Aussie Price has Dakar win taken away
Ian Chadband |
Australia’s two-time champion Toby Price has been left frustrated after his hard-earned stage triumph at the Dakar Rally was overturned by officials because of a speeding violation.
Off-road motorcycle star Price, who took the bikes class at the celebrated endurance race in both 2016 and 2019 title, thought he’d picked up the 14th Dakar stage win of his career after a demanding 346km loop around the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh on Thursday.
But though he finished four minutes ahead of his competitors after taking the lead at the penultimate checkpoint, hours after the race his win was ruled out as he was hit with a six-minute penalty.
Officials ruled that the 34-year-old Gold Coast rider had exceeded the speed limit set for the race in certain public sections of the rally.
Red Bull Factory KTM rider Price, whose chances of a third overall victory evaporated after a bad start earlier in the two-week race, was thus relegated to fifth place overall on the stage, with victory awarded instead to Danilo Petrucci.
The Italian is the first MotoGP rider ever to win a stage at the Dakar.
Price’s compatriot Daniel Sanders finished 13th on the stage, falling off the pace only in the final section, to keep in the hunt for the overall title as he lay fourth.
The Victorian is just over eight minutes behind the British race leader and his GasGas teammate, Sam Sunderland.
In the cars section, South African Henk Lategan won despite his driver’s door flapping open, as Sebastien Loeb trimmed Nasser Al Attiyah’s overall lead to 35 minutes.
“I was driving until the first control point with the door flapping open. Then I managed to solve that, I strapped myself in and couldn’t open the door,” Lategan said afterwards.
“Then we had a puncture, so I had to climb out of the navigator’s door and change the puncture. So we’ve had just the craziest day. I can’t actually believe that we have won the stage. It doesn’t make sense.”