Hunter-raised Toby Price’s dream of a third Dakar Rally title is shattered after the two-time champion was forced to exit the race prematurely overnight.
The former Singleton Sports Star of the Year winner, who captured the prestigious Saudi Arabia event in 2016 and 2019, crashed around the 155km point of stage nine.
The 33-year-old was looking well set to battle for victory again in 2021, with successes in the first and third legs of the gruelling odyssey.
Price, in second place in the general standings at the start of the day (Tuesday 12 January), set off at a lightning pace over the first portion of the stage.
But, his campaign ended not long after when he fell heavily from his bike.
Team-mate Sam Sunderland and titleholder Ricky Brabec stopped, to come to his aid, as he awaited the medical team.
Price was then airlifted to hospital in Tabuk where he was diagnosed with a fractured collarbone.
Apart from a couple of withdrawals in his six campaigns, he has always finished on the final podium.
It caps off a frustrating couple of days for the plucky racer.
After noticing a cracked tyre, Price repaired it to the best of his ability, using a solo zip tie to alleviate the issue.
“I tried to fix as much as I could,” he said afterwards.
“When I got to refuel at 229km, I saw I still had the zip tie on.
“The rest had come off; but I just tried to keep momentum, not accelerate too hard and ride smart.
“I lost some time.
“However, I didn’t think I would make it to the finish, let alone second in the stage and still be in second overall.
“It was good to see the Michelin Motorcycle tyre could get me to the line even with a big gash in it.”