Toby Price of Australia rides his KTM motorbike during the third stage of the Dakar Rally.
Toby Price of Australia rides his KTM motorbike during the third stage of the Dakar Rally. Martin Mejia

Aussie slips from lead in Dakar Rally

THE first day of the 2017 Dakar Rally at high altitude has turned the leaderboard on its head.

Overnight leader Toby Price, from Australia, fell to fifth overall in the motorcycle category after a getting lost early on stage three, costing him 20 minutes.

Joan Barreda went the opposite way, grinding his rivals under the heel of his boot with a sublime ride to take a dominant first stage win of 2017 and surge into the overall lead.

The third stage took competitors on a 780km run from San Miguel de Tucuman to San Salvador de Jujuy in Argentina, the 364km competitive section split by a neutralised section.

The route featured plenty of off-road running, while taking competitors up to 5000m above sea level.

Price led out on to the stage but made his mistake early, dumping 18 minutes to the inspired Barreda by the first waypoint and setting only the 45th fastest time to that point.

He lost two more minutes by the second but thereafter rode at his Honda rival's pace, charging back up the stage classification and minimising further damage to his overall hopes.

"The first part of the road-book was definitely tricky and I think we all got a little bit out of whack there and a little bit lost,” Price said.

"I went a little bit too left in the first one and then I couldn't find it. I ended up doing an extra 10-12km more than I needed to today.”

In the car category, After a slow start to the 2017 event, Peugeot's reigning Dakar victor Stephane Peterhansel charged into contention with his first stage victory of the rally.

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