Toby Price is one stage away from becoming the first Australian to win the Dakar Rally, holding a huge lead in the motorbike category going into the final day.
The 28-year-old from Singleton in NSW’s Hunter Region finished second in stage 12, enjoying a trouble-free ride to Villa Carlos Paz to finish seven minutes behind Portuguese rider Helder Rodrigues.
Price is set to claim the title in Rosario on Sunday with the Aussie holding a 37 minutes and 39 seconds lead in the motorbike division over Slovakia’s Stefan Svitko.
“This was a long stage with 480 kilometres. It was on really sharp shale-like rock,” said Price who was happy to get through the ride unscathed.
“It was really sketchy, really skatey and it felt like I was riding on ice. We had a couple of excursions off the track a couple of times so we thought we’d whack it down and make sure that we get to the finish.”
After finishing third in his Dakar debut last year, Price refused to get carried away with his amazing effort to lead going into the final stage in just his second attempt at the coveted race and that he set to become the first Australian winner.
“I haven’t really looked into the history of results yet,” Price said.
“I’ll look at that tomorrow once it’s all done. If that happens it will be a bit of history and I’ll be pretty stoked with that. See you tomorrow, cheers.”
Meanwhile, French rally legend Stephane Peterhansel will take a 41-minute overall lead into the final stage, enough to win the world’s toughest rally a record-extending 12th time.
Peugeot driver Peterhansel, in control of the race since Wednesday, was content to take it relatively easy and avoid problems on the 12th and longest stage of the rally between San Juan and Villa Carlos Paz.
The stage was won in five and a half hours by Mikko Hirvonen, the Finn on his Dakar debut.