British rider Sam Sunderland has won a gruelling stage to move up to second overall in the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia, two days after stopping to help injured Australian Toby Price.
Sunderland won the penultimate 11th stage on Thursday on his KTM bike and is four minutes and 12 seconds behind Honda’s Argentine leader Kevin Benavides with one stage left.
“I knew that today was one of my last chances to try to win and I gave my all,” said Sunderland.
“I didn’t quite manage to take enough time, but I’m happy with my effort. We still have one day to go and many things can happen on one stage.
“What a really tough day and a really difficult Dakar, but I’m super grateful for the team and everybody that put all the work in.”
Price’s bid for a third Dakar title ended on Tuesday when he crashed, breaking his collarbone.
Price had been in second place in the bike category, a minute behind the leader, Chile’s Jose Ignacio Cornejo.
Sunderland and American rider Ricky Brabec stopped to help Price, who was airlifted to hospital in Tubuk in the country’s north-west.
They lost several minutes while assisting Price, but later had their lost time restored by race organisers.
In the car category, French veteran Stephane Peterhansel is one stage away from a record-extending 14th Dakar Rally triumph after ending the day with a 15-minute lead over Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah.
Toyota’s Al-Attiyah won Thursday’s shortened 464km stage but Peterhansel kept him in check with the second-fastest time.
“There’s only one day to go. It’s time to cross fingers and hope that we will be in first place at the end,” said Peterhansel, whose record 13 previous wins came on both motorcycles and in cars.
Friday’s 12th and final stage to Jeddah will feature chains of dunes before reaching the shores of the Red Sea.
But it offers less scope for Al-Attiyah and Sunderland to close their respective gaps unless their rivals hit problems.
“It’s exactly like last year, we are really struggling with the tyres,” said the Qatari after clawing back a minute and 56 seconds from Peterhansel to secure his sixth stage win of the event.
“There’s still one day left, but this time we have really had a lot of punctures. I’ve had more than 16 tyres punctured.”