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Bad Dakar day for Price as Sanders thrives

Australian Toby Price's uneven bid to win a third Dakar Rally title in Saudi Arabia suffered a slump after he followed up his victory on the third stage with a 22nd place finish on the fourth.

The 33-year-old Price, who has won two stages but suffered on another couple, moved back to eighth place overall on Wednesday, now seven minutes 47 seconds off the lead held by Frenchman Xavier de Soultrait.

It proved, though, a much better day for Price's Australian compatriot Daniel Sanders, who finished second on the stage between Wadi Ad-Dawasir and Riydah to lead the rookies' standings in the race's motorcycle class.

"It was a good day, today, for me," said Sanders. "(There were) only a couple little mistakes.

"At the end there were some rocky canyons. I think it went pretty well, even though I must have lost a minute looking for a waypoint near the finish."

KTM rider Sanders finished six minutes nine seconds down on Honda's Joan Barreda, who took his second stage victory to move up to second in the overall standings, just behind new leader de Soultrait.

The Frenchman is the fifth different rider to have held the lead in the bikes category since the start of the event following Ricky Brabec, Price, Barreda and Skyler Howes.

Honda's Kevin Benavides dropped to third after finishing 11 minutes off the pace.

In the cars section, Qatar's triple champion Nasser Al-Attiyah took his third stage win in a row to chip away at Stephane Peterhansel's overall lead.

The Toyota driver ended the fourth day of action four minutes and 58 seconds adrift of Peterhansel, the veteran 'Mr Dakar' who has won the event a record 13 times on two wheels and four but has yet to take a stage this year.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz, Peterhansel's team mate and the defending champion, climbed back to third overall but 36 minutes off the lead.

Nine-times world rally champion Sebastien Loeb was fourth, another 12 minutes behind.

© AAP 2021