Toby Price’s lead on the Dakar Rally has ballooned to almost half an hour after his only real rival for overall honours struck trouble on Stage 9.
While Price set a searing pace to claim his fifth stage victory aboard his KTM, Paulo Goncalves’ challenge for victory ended when a branch pierced his Honda’s radiator halfway through the test.
Exacerbating Goncalves’ woes is that, as it is the first leg of a marathon stage, his bike can’t be repaired by his crew nor does he have access to spare parts to repair his bike.
Goncalves wasn’t the only rider to strike trouble in hot temperatures the dunes on the 285km test in the deserts outside of Belem in Argentina, and organisers elected to declare the stage results after the second checkpoint
By that point, Price had already but the boot to the field.
He already had a seven-minute advantage over Honda’s final hope Kevin Benavides, second fastest on the stage, and 10 minutes over third-quickest Stefan Svitko.
The result leaves Price’s overall lead at almost 25 minutes over Svitko with four stages remaining.
Goncalves’ plight highlights that Price’s own hopes of victory could still easily be undone by just one small mechanical problem or riding mistake.
“We’ve got through pretty good,” Price said.
“We made a couple of little mistakes around the 100km mark. We got a little bit lost but luckily we found the way point and got ourselves back on track and going again. Other than that, we’ve had a fairly decent day, a fairly solid day.
“It was just good that we didn’t get lost. It was definitely tricky navigation today. I still feel solid, I still feel really good. It’s definitely hot right now at the moment, but we’ll suit up again, get going, get some air flowing and it shouldn’t be too bad.”
In the car category, Peugeot’s Carlos Sainz took command of the overall rally lead.
Though he scored only a narrow stage win over the Minis of Erik van Loon and Mikko Hirvonen, he beat home Peugeot teammate Stephane Peterhansel by over nine minutes to move into a seven-minute lead in the overall standings.