Australian Toby Price has taken the lead at the halfway mark of the 2021 Dakar Rally.
The former Hunter-based dual Dakar champion described the pace as crazy on stage six as he kept pace and then eclipsed Honda's Kevin Benavides.
Price finished seventh on the stage but it was enough for him to establish a 2 minute and 16 seconds lead over Benavides going into Saturday's rest day.
Benavides' Monster Energy Honda teammate Jose Florimo is a further 41 seconds behind in third.
"Today they cut about 100km out of the stage and that definitely helped us because it's still been a really tough day out there," Price said
"It took a while, but I managed to catch the two guys ahead of me and luckily we were able to keep up a really good pace right at the front. I did have one little get-off that twisted the road book tower a little bit but apart from that there were no problems.
"It feels great to have taken the overall lead, but after such an up and down week the most important thing is we're fit and in good shape for the second half of the rally. The plan now is to enjoy the rest day and then hopefully more of the same next week!"
It has been an eventful week for Price who won the opening stage and third stage of the rally punctuated by a disappointing stage two when he dropped 32 minutes and finished 28th after problems with his rear fuel tank forced him to conserve fuel.
After costly mistakes Price finished 22nd on stage four, but a strong performance on stage five saw him finish third and rise to fourth overall.
- T. PRICE AUS KTM 24:08:43 0:00:00
- K. BENAVIDES ARG HONDA 24:10:59 0:02:16
- CORNEJO FLORIMO CHL HONDA 24:11:40 0:02:57
- R. BRANCH BWA YAMAHA 24:12:24 0:03:41
- X. DE SOULTRAIT FRA HUSQVARNA 24:12:24 0:03:41
- S. SUNDERLAND GBR KTM 24:13:06 0:04:23
- J. BARREDA BORT ESP HONDA 24:15:08 0:06:25
- L. SANTOLINO ESP SHERCO FACTORY 24:22:29 0:13:46
- S. HOWES USA KTM 24:23:55 0:15:12
- P. QUINTANILLA CHL HUSQVARNA 24:23:56 0:15:13