Third place in stage 12 promoted KTM’s Toby Price into provisional control of the 2023 Dakar Rally with just two days left of action.
The Red Bull rider began the 185 km special from third, a position he held until the end with Nacho Cornejo claiming the victory aboard the Monster Energy Honda through the Empty Quarter’s dunes.
The Chilean secured victory by just under a minute from Australian Daniel Sanders with Price now 28 seconds clear of Husqvarna’s Skyler Howes overall.
“The Empty Quarter has delivered what they said it was going to do,” Price said on Friday afternoon. “There was a lot of sand and a lot of nothing out here. All in all, it’s been a good day.
“I think the stage has been good for us. At the moment we’re second, so I’m not sure who has won, it could be Daniel who has won the stage. I was just trying to keep a good smooth consistent pace and now it’s just two days to go, so there’s not long.
“I’m not sure if I’ve caught up time on Skyler,” he continued before the result was finalised. “I just felt that I pushed where I was comfortable and it’s going to be what it’s going to be. At the end of the day, if it works out in my favour, that’s all well and good, if it doesn’t then I guess we’ll just wait and see what unfolds for the race.
“I think that trying to have a strategy for the race at this point in time is completely out of the window. I’ve just got to stay on two wheels and stay healthy. Tomorrow, I’ll try and push really hard, because on the last day it’s a reverse grid. We need to try and see if we can make some really good time tomorrow, but then again you don’t want to push too crazily and risk an injury or being out of the race completely this close to the finishing line. But other than that, the body feels good, the bike feels good. It’s been a long two weeks.”