Dramatic day at Dakar Rally 2017 with Al-Attiyah, Price and Sainz out of contention.
Things can change in a blink of an eye at the Dakar Rally and after Nasser Al-Attiyah’s confirmed retirement earlier in the day, defending motorbike champion Toby Price joined him in exiting the brutal race with Team Peugeot star Carlos Sainz on the brink of abandoning.
Thursday’s 416 kilometre special stage from San Salvador de Juluy in Argentina to Tupiza in Bolivia, the longest timed section so far, again took the drivers and riders above 3500 metres.
With dangerous sand dunes and tricky navigation to deal with as well, many got lost along the way.
After being set to land another stage win having recovered from losing time earlier in the day, Price’s race ended after 371 kilometres of Stage 4. The Australian fell heavily and had to be airlifted to hospital where it was confirmed he suffered a break to his left femur
His retirement ensures there will be a new winner to the motorbike race this year. Another KTM Factory Team rider, Austrian Matthias Walkner, took the win two minutes ahead of Joan Barreda, but the Spaniard still leads the overall standings.
Walkner said: “I’m happy with the victory, but for now I just hope Toby is OK.”
Frenchman Cyril Despres recorded his first victory at the Dakar behind the wheel of a car and took a big chunk of time out of his rivals in the process.
The big story of the day on four wheels came late in the day though when 2010 winner Sainz rolled his car and ended up in a ravine, bringing a premature end to his race.
After a 1-2-3 on Wednesday, Sainz wasn’t the only Team Peugeot driver to hit big trouble with Stéhane Peterhansel losing 15 minutes having taken a track in the wrong direction and Sébastien Loeb coming in 22 minutes down the road after engine trouble.
Ignacio Casale dropped down to second in the overall rankings as home favourite Walter Nosiglia stormed to victory in front of some passionate supporters in Tupiza.
The Bolivian reached the finish line after six hours and six minutes, beating new race leader Sergey Karyakin into second place.
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