The competitors have finally reached Córdoba, the home of rally in Argentina and final destination for the 2018 Dakar Rally.
Stage 13 was the last major opportunity for riders and drivers to attack and go for glory in a bid to make a late move in the overall standings.
Saturday is time to celebrate. A brutal 40th edition of the Dakar Rally comes to a close in Córdoba. Competitors have one final 120km special stage to conquer though before party time.
There were mixed fortunes for Nasser Al-Attiyah and Stéphane Peterhansel as they tried to close the gap to leader Carlos Sainz.
Toyota driver Al-Attiyah raced to a second consecutive stage win but 13-time champion Peterhansel crashed early in the stage, damaging the Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi and seeing his hopes all but fade away.
Sainz finished 19 minutes back from Al-Attiyah and has just one more day to protect his comfortable 46-minute lead.
The Spaniard said: “Since the start, there has been a lot of drama in this race and it’s not over until we’ve crossed the finishing line.”
Toby Price was the first rider to start Stage 13, and the first rider to finish Stage 13. The Australian led almost throughout the 424km special for his second victory in three days to consolidate his third position overall.
Leader Matthias Walkner knew he had it all to lose so was in safety first mode as he bids for a first ever Dakar victory, finishing fourth behind Kevin Benavides and teammate Antoine Meo.
Walkner, who has a 22-minute overall lead, said: “I didn’t want to do anything crazy as it was a really long day with the guys behind pushing like crazy. It can still all change really quickly and there is still one day to go.”
Ignacio Casale continues to cruise to a second Dakar title, finishing third on the stage to extend his overall lead to more than 90 minutes.
Argentine Jeremias González Ferioli came in first in front of his home crowd with Nelson Augusto Sanabria Galeano in second.
Eduard Nikolaev led Federico Villagra by just a single second going into Stage 13. Villagra attacked from the off but the Argentine suffered a mechanical at the 79km point and despite battling on for as long as he could, had to abandon the rally leaving the Russian in total control.
© Red Bull Content Pool