Price reveals navigational scare after pivotal Dakar stage

Toby Price is now three seconds off the lead of the Dakar Rally

Toby Price is now three seconds off the lead of the Dakar Rally

Toby Price says he “hoped and prayed” he was on the right path during the stage in which he closed to three seconds off the Dakar Rally lead.

The Red Bull KTM rider’s prospects of a third Dakar crown continued to solidify with the first action after the rest day, when he was second-fastest on Stage 9 and moved into what is essentially now a tie for top spot with Husqvarna’s Skyler Howes.

Both are just over five minutes ahead of another factory KTM rider in Kevin Benavides but Adrien Van Beveren (Monster Energy Honda), who holds fourth overall, is now more than 15 minutes off the pace.

For Howes and Price, the thinning of the Bikes contenders was arguably the more significant development on the Riyadh to Haradh stage, considering how close the field had been bunched at the rest day.

At the conclusion of Stage 8, Price had been fourth overall, yet only 1:58s behind Howes, with less than eight minutes covering the top eight.

For most of the other riders who are or at least were in that top eight, the blowout was caused by getting lost between the Kilometre 85 and Kilometre 123 waypoints, and Australia’s two-time Dakar champion nearly joined them in doing so.

“It was a little bit of a tricky one,” said Price, who started 17th in the road order.

“I did go a little bit right, just from the lines that I’d seen, and was starting to notice we were going off the cap a little bit.

“So, once I kind of got a little bit close to the waypoint, I knew we were too far to the right and kind of got a little lucky.

“I went across one big bank and could see two trees that were marked with the waypoint.

“Basically, I just hoped and prayed that it was that one and went that direction and it validated pretty much straight away.”

While there appears to now be three genuine contenders, among which two are standouts, Price remains wary.

“All in all, we’re happy, [but there is] still a long way to go,” he added.

A few boys had some crashes today, so it’s not over until we get to that finish line.”

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