Aussie Price only a second adrift in Dakar

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Australian motorcycle star Toby Price has had the lead snatched away from him in the Dakar Rally by Chile's Jose Ignacio Cornejo.

Halfway leader Price had a two minute 16 seconds gap on the field but saw it disappear on the 453km seventh stage in the Saudi Arabian marathon test from Ha'il to Sakaka on Sunday.

America's defending champion Ricky Brabec won the stage but he still lies eighth overall, 15 minutes behind Honda teammate Cornejo, whose runner-up spot on the day was enough to see him move ahead of Price in the overall standings by a single second.

Price, on his Red Bull factory KTM, finished seventh on the stage, five minutes behind Brabec after the four-and-three-quarter hour slog.

The 33-year-old two-time winner Price had warned that his narrow halfway lead had meant little and sounded happy enough with his performance, noting on Twitter: "Marathon stage was good.

"7th in stage and all in one piece! Bit of an underlying issue with the bike but all in all we are in a pretty good position with Stage 7 down, looking forward to another one..."

There was also another fine performance from Australian KTM rookie Daniel Sanders, who finished fifth on the stage and now lies ninth overall.

Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel extended his lead in the cars' section to nearly eight minutes as the rally mourned the passing of former champion Hubert Auriol, the first to win on both two wheels and four.

Organisers said former race director Auriol, who triumphed on a motorcycle in 1981 and 1983 and in the car category in 1992 when the rally was held in Africa, had died after a long illness. He was 68.

Peterhansel, winner of the gruelling event a record 13 times with six of those victories on a motorcycle before switching to cars, finished the stage in second place behind Toyota's Saudi driver Yazeed Al Rajhi.

"In the last 40km we had a big impact on the rock and we destroyed the rim. It was really complicated to remove the wheel because it was blocked on the caliper." said Peterhansel.

"Normally we take two or three minutes but I think we stopped seven or eight minutes."

Stage seven was the first part of a two-day marathon stage, with competitors having to get through it without external assistance.