Daniel Sanders reverted to a conservative approach on Stage 10 of the Dakar Rally after navigational issues left him following Skyler Howes.
The Australian nevertheless occupies sixth in the general classification with just two stages to go in his first Dakar, after the withdrawal of erstwhile leader Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo due to concussion.
Sanders was sixth-fastest on the 342km special between Neom and AlUla, on which an early mishap meant the KTM Factory Team rider got stuck in the dust of Howes.
The 26-year-old then opted to save himself for the 464km of competition which follow on Stage 11.
“It was rough going out there today,” said Sanders.
“Not the best stage for me, I got lost a couple of times early on and that cost me some minutes.
“Towards the end there, Skyler came past me and I was in his dust then and decided to settle for a safe finish.
“I managed to conserve a bit of energy over those last 100 kilometres as we have got a really long day tomorrow and it’s going to be a tough one.”
Sanders is 30:55s away from the head of the general classification, as well as being one position and 1:17s behind Howes, who rides for the BAS Dakar KTM Racing Team.
The second-last stage of Dakar 2021, which originally included a 511km special before that was snipped due to weather, starts this afternoon (AEDT).