It was a remarkable turnaround for Rodrigues who 24 hours earlier had mechanical problems which saw him plunge from contention and required the sweep team to return him to the bivouac.
However, his brave effort did not make any any dent on the top of the overall standing, with the top three again riding virtually in tandem for much of the stage.
Price, who won the first leg, reclaimed the lead, although his advantage over KTM team-mate, Dubai-based Sam Sunderland, is a slim 57 seconds, with Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla is just 18 seconds further away. The UAE’s Mohammed Al Balooshi maintained his fourth position despite a crash on the stage, while Dubai-based challenger Dave McBride remained in ninth place.
Price said: “There’s more and more and more sand, but it was a good trip and I caught the guys ahead. It was a long day but a great one, and I’m always having fun.”
On completing the stage, Sunderland said: “After Toby caught us, he led the way for most of the stage and we just had to follow him.”
Al Balooshi set up a steady and fast pace during the day and maintained a leading riding rhythm until a crash on the 218km mark made him lose several minutes to his rivals.
He explained: “Today was a great day and felt very comfortable with the bike. Unfortunately, I hit a plaque of concrete – probably the only one in the middle of the dunes – and damaged the bike severely.
“I continued the remaining 60km with a destroyed front suspension, bent front wheel and also bent handlebar… but I made it to the bivouac and my team is working hard on rebuilding the bike for tomorrow.”
Taking place under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Western region, the 26th Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Powered by Nissan is organised by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATC UAE).