Drama struck the Dakar rally on Thursday as defending bikes champion Toby Price suffered a heavy crash late in Stage 4 of the event, from San Salvador de Jujuy in Argentina to Tupiza in Bolivia.
The Australian was leading the leg but sustained a broken left femur in the crash with just 45 kilometres of the 416km test remaining.
He was airlifted to hospital and was forced to withdraw.
Price’s KTM teammate Matthias Walkner from Austria went on to claim the stage win while Joan Barreda from Spain was second extending his overall race lead to over 18 minutes over Chilean Husqvarna rider Pablo Quintanilla.
But it was not to last. On Friday, organisers announced that Barreda had been given a one hour penalty for refueling outside the authorised zone which made Quintanilla the leading rider.
Frenchman Cyril Despres took the overall lead in the car category following his first win this edition.
The five-time Dakar bikes champion steered his Peugeot across the line first as former leader Sebastien Loeb lost time and Carlos Sainz rolled his Peugeot.
Former World Rally Championship driver Mikko Hirvonen was second while multiple Dakar Rally winner and defending champ Stephane Peterhansel was fourth on the day and now second overall.
Sainz, who had been in second place overall at the beginning of the stage, later confirmed that he was withdrawing, saying: “It is obviously devastating to have to retire.”