Toby Price scored his second stage win of the 2021 Dakar Rally on Tuesday’s third stage, as American privateer Skyler Howes took the lead in the overall classification.
After struggling on Monday’s second stage, KTM rider Price was locked in battle with Honda’s Kevin Benavides throughout Tuesday’s 403km loop around Wadi Ad-Dawasir.
The day’s running followed the pattern seen in both of the opening two stages, as those riders opening the road lost chunks of time early on, while those lower down the running order – namely Price, Benavides and Matthias Walkner – had a much easier day.
Benavides managed to stretch out a one-minute advantage over Price at the 183km mark, but in the second half of the test the Australian responded, edging ahead after 292km.
By the end of the special, Price had eked out 1m13s over his Argentinian rival to grab his second stage win in two days and the 13th of his Dakar career.
Price’s KTM teammate Walkner, who lost upwards of two hours on Monday’s stage due to a clutch problem, rounded out the top three, 2m36s back, while Howes – the 28-year-old from Utah riding for the non-factory Bas Dakar KTM squad – was a strong fourth ahead of the Austrian marque’s third works rider, Sam Sunderland.
The upshot is that Howes, who had gone into the stage eighth overall, now holds a slender lead of 33 seconds over Benavides at the head of the general classification.
Husqvarna privateer Xavier de Soultrait has leapt from fifth to third ahead of Price, who began the day down in 16th, Sunderland, and top Yamaha man Ross Branch.
Overnight leader Joan Barreda (Honda) meanwhile has slid to eighth overall, nine minutes off the lead after losing nearly 25 minutes to Price, while teammate and defending champion Ricky Brabec gave away over 21 minutes and dropped out of the top 10 overall.
Another rider to suffer was Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla, fourth at the start of the day but now languishing down in 12th, one spot ahead of Brabec.
Standings after Stage 3 (top 10):
1 Skyler Howes KTM
2 Kevin Benavides Honda
3 Xavier de Soultrait Husqvarna
4 Toby Price KTM
5 Sam Sunderland KTM
6 Ross Branch Yamaha
7 Luciano Benavides Husqvarna
8 Joan Barreda Honda
9 Adrien van Beveren Yamaha
10 Jose Ignacio Cornejo Honda