Although he had little chance of overtaking fellow Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team rider Matthias Walkner for the win, 2016 victor Toby Price gave it a go, as they’d say in his native Australia, and sped to the quickest time in stage 13 of the 40th Dakar Rally, leading nearly the entire 424 kilometers of the special stage.

In addition to the 483 kilometers of liaison or transfer section, the stage from San Juan, Argentina, to Córdoba was the longest of the entire race.

Price began the stage third overall, 39 minutes and 17 seconds behind Walkner in the standings, and with just stages 13 (long) and 14 (short) left, he knew there was no realistic chance of putting almost 40 minutes on the former MX3 world champion from Austria.

Toby Price Dakar Rally 2018 Day 14
Toby Price was on it all day, keenly aware that time is running out for him to climb past Kevin Benavides and finish second. But after winning his second consecutive stage, he’s still very satisfied.Dakar.com

But he could possibly catch Monster Energy Honda Team’s Kevin Benavides for second, as the Argentine favorite was a slightly closer 7:17 ahead of him.

So he went for it.

By the end of the stage, Price and Benavides seemed to have their own private battle, the former setting the pace but Benavides not far off it. Ultimately, Price won the day with a time two minutes and three seconds faster than Benavides after nearly five hours of pushing the limit.

“That was a great stage,” Price declared. “I was leading from the front, and it was really good fun. The tracks were fast and rough in places so I pushed on as much as I could in those sections.

Matthias Walkner Dakar Rally 2018 Day 14
All day, the only thing on Matthias Walkner’s mind was being careful in order to protect his overall lead, so he breathed a sigh of relief when he finally rolled into Córdoba after a good 14 hours on the bike. Fourth in the stage wasn’t a bad result either.Dakar.com

“Navigation wasn’t too difficult today; I made a couple of mistakes along the way but nothing huge. There were a lot of speed zones so you had to be careful not to overdo it there, but I did what I set out to do and won the stage. It would have been nice to take a little bit more time off Kevin, but there’s still one day left.

“If you’d told me six weeks ago I’d be here fighting for the podium, I would’ve laughed at you. I’m really happy with how things have gone so far, and I’ll see what I can do tomorrow.”

Antoine Méo made it a Red Bull KTM 1-3 with Walkner the fourth fastest on the day, 11:32 behind Price, to keep his overall lead safe. Walkner’s total time is now 41:33:42 to the 41:56:13 of Benavides, with Price third at 42:01:27.

The race leader shared, “That was a really long day today. The guys at the front are pushing really hard and I’m feeling a little nervous so my aim is just to take things steady and get to the [finish] line safely.

Ricky Brabec Dakar Rally 2018 Day 14
Unfortunately for Ricky Brabec and his many fans, stage 13 proved to be his undoing, an electrical issue and resulting fire doing enough damage to prevent him from repairing his works CRF450 Rally within an hour and resulting in a DNF while gunning for fifth overall.Rally Zone/Eduardo Bauer

“It was a really fast stage and just a small mistake could cause a big crash. I have got a 20-minute gap over the guys behind, but even that amount of time can disappear easily if you get lost or have a problem with the bike. Tomorrow we still have 120 kilometers to race and anything can happen. I’ll start thinking about the win when I cross the finish line tomorrow.”

Unfortunately for American fans, Monster Energy Honda Team’s Ricky Brabec had an unlucky Friday the 13th (stage) and will not cross the finish line tomorrow. His bike caught fire early in the stage, and although he managed to keep it from burning up completely, there was enough damage done that he couldn’t repair it on the trail, even after rookie teammate José Ignacio Cornejo stopped and tried to help. (Despite losing a massive 45 minutes or more, Cornejo retained 10th overall in the rally.)

At the time, Brabec was fourth fastest in the stage and sixth overall as he tried to rebound from getting lost a few days ago and dropping back to 11th. (Ironically, he was forced out of last year’s Dakar with a bike issue, the end practically in sight.)

“It was very unfortunate on the penultimate day for me to have an electrical issue and they forced me to quit, as they only gave me an hour to get moving again,” Brabec said. “We’ll just have to keep working hard toward next year. I’m sorry to all friends and fans whom I haven’t been able to keep up to date recently. Thank you all very much for the support.”

Brabec’s retirement leaves Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team’s Andrew Short as the top-placing American in 17th overall at 45:38:22.

A very cautious 35th in today's arduous stage, the Dakar rookie remarked, "Today was tough—really tough. The stage was so long and at this point in the rally it was especially tiring. The beginning of the special was really soft and it was difficult to get a good rhythm going. The latter half was on much faster tracks and it was flat out for a lot of the way. I didn't push too hard because a crash there would've been pretty extreme. Now, with only one day left, I'm looking forward to completing my first Dakar Rally."

Andrew Short Dakar Rally 2018
Although he finished back in the field from his usual spot in the top 20, Andrew Short was glad just to make it to Córdoba after a very, very long day. He was 35th fastest in the stage and sits 17th overall.Dakar.com

Mark Samuels enjoyed his best day yet, finishing the stage 15th best aboard his MEC Team Honda CRF450 Rally works bike. He’s now 21st overall at 47:38:45, though to break into the top 20, someone ahead will have to DNF or have a horrible final stage, which isn’t out of the question.

Not far behind Samuels (almost eight minutes), Duust Rally Team KTM 450 Rally Replica-mounted Shane Esposito also had a pretty good day, finishing the stage 18th. That sets him up for a finish in the top 25, which is where he sits going into tomorrow’s last stage with a total time so far of 45:09:32.

Bill Conger rolled into Córdoba this evening with the 68th fastest time and is 66th overall at 67:47:35.

The remarkable Laia Sanz is as tough as they come and pretty fast as well, proven by her 13th-fastest time in the stage, which helped move her up a spot to 12th overall at 44:24:19.

Laia Sanz Dakar Rally 2018 Day 14
Although beat up and sore from a few crashes over the past week, Laia Sanz kept on rolling in stage 13, posting the 13th-best time and moving up to 12th in the provisional overall order.Dakar.com

“I had a good day today,” the KTM Factory Racing Team/KH-7 rider shared after spending a total of 14 hours on her works 450 Rally. “The start of the stage was really tough; the sand was extremely soft and there were a lot of whoops. I found that really hard on my body, especially after having a couple of crashes recently.

“The second half of the day was a lot better. It was very fast but easier to push so I kept to a good, safe pace and made it to the finish without any mistakes. Tomorrow I will try to stay safe and hopefully enjoy the final stage of the rally.”

Tomorrow’s last stage will be a short one, beginning and ending in Córdoba, with 166 kilometers of liaison and 120 of special. It won’t be a cakewalk though. In that 120 kilometers lie some 30 river crossings so riders will still have to be careful, both with navigating and preserving their bikes. At this point, however, KTM appears well poised to win for the 17th time in a row.

Ranking Rider Number Rider Team Overall Time Time From Leader Penalty
1 2 Matthias Walkner Red Bull KTM Factory Team 41:33:42 00:01:00
2 47 Kevin Benavides Monster Energy Honda Team 41:56:13 00:22:31
3 8 Toby Price Red Bull KTM Factory Team 42:01:27 00:27:45
4 19 Antoine Méo Red Bull KTM Factory Team 42:23:59 00:50:17 00:01:00
5 3 Gerard Farrés Guell Himoinsa Racing Team 42:35:01 01:01:19
6 40 Johnny Aubert GasGas Motorsport 43:27:54 01:54:12 00:19:00
7 10 Pablo Quintanilla Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing 43:40:31 02:06:49
8 61 Oriol Mena Hero Motosports Team Rally 43:57:11 02:23:29
9 29 Daniel Oliveras Carreras Himoinsa Racing Team 44:13:15 02:39:33
10 68 Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo Monster Energy Honda Team 44:13:59 02:40:17
17 54 Andrew Short Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing 45:38:22 04:04:40
21 64 Mark Samuels MEC Team 47:38:45 06:05:03 01:00:00
25 103 Shane Esposito Duust Rally Team 49:05:32 07:31:50 02:05:00
66 105 Bill Conger Klymciw Racing 67:47:35 26:13:53