Aussie Price down to fourth in Dakar Rally

Toby Price is still in the thick of the hunt for a third motorcycle triumph at the Dakar Rally despite the Australian star slipping out of the podium places in the Saudi Arabian desert.

Second overnight, the 35-year-old Gold Coast rider slipped out of the frame to fourth overall after finishing 17th in Sunday's eighth stage of the celebrated endurance race.

But in a tight, keenly fought contest, Price - the event's overall winner in 2016 and 2019 - is still less than two minutes behind the US leader Skyler Howes going into Monday's rest day.

The Red Bull KTM rider would have been even closer if not for a one-minute speeding penalty he picked up on Sunday.

The overall rankings have Price one minute, 58 seconds behind Husqvarna's Howes, and 1:45 adrift of his Argentinian Red Bull KTM teammate Kevin Benavides and American BAS World KTM rider Mason Klein.

Botswana's Ross Branch (Hero Motorsports) took the stage victory with a fine second place for Price's Australian colleague Daniel Sanders, the Red Bull GasGas rider who finished 3:15 behind.

Sanders, the race's early pacesetter, is seventh in the overall standings, 7:03 behind leader Howes.

Having fought off a bout of illness, the Victorian is keen to relaunch his challenge in the Saudi Arabian desert.

"I'm really happy to achieve this result today before moving on to the second part because these last few days were not nice," he said.

"We had sort of a rest day yesterday. We got to switch off the brain and try to eat a little bit, get the energy levels back up.

"I'm still fighting this stomach bug a little bit. Hopefully I'm on the mend now, and tomorrow is another rest day.

"I'll rest up and come out swinging on stage 9."

In the cars battle, Sebastien Loeb enjoyed his second stage win of the week after Carlos Sainz had been penalised for speeding.

Last year's overall winner Nasser Al-Attiyah was bumped up to second after the 346-kilometre stage between Al Duwadimi and the capital Riyadh, retaining his commanding overall lead of one hour, three minutes and 46 seconds.