Smith's first top-10 finish in Dakar Rally

GREAT RESULT: Australian KTM rider Todd Smith has had a top-10 finish in stage seven of the Dakar Rally.
GREAT RESULT: Australian KTM rider Todd Smith has had a top-10 finish in stage seven of the Dakar Rally. DAVID FERNANDEZ

MOTORSPORT: Australian rider Todd Smith has clocked the seventh fastest time on stage seven in Bolivia but was promoted to sixth for his first top-10 stage finish in the Dakar Rally.

American Honda rider Ricky Brabec had his first career win, while Sam Sunderland and Stephane Peterhansel extended their overall leads in the motorcycle and car categories.

Organisers had cut the competitive section of the route from La Paz to Uyuni to 161km due to the recent rains.

The 31-year-old Smith, taking part in his first Dakar aboard a non-official KTM bike, was seventh across the line, but was promoted to sixth and 14th outright after a five-minute penalty to French rider Xavier de Soultrait.

The Australian continues to show plenty of speed and caution, especially on a Dakar rally that has tripped up many of the favourites.

He was nine minutes behind on the stage and is 1h46m55s behind overall.

A top-10 finish is not out of reach.

Fellow Australian Matthew Hart, still nursing a shoulder injury from an earlier crash, was 52nd on the stage to be 62nd outright.

Riders and driving crews will have no help from their crews at the overnight stop at Uyuni, with no replacement parts available, while any repair work or maintenance will need to be done themselves.

The Peugeots continued to extend their advantage at the front of the field, Peterhansel and Sebastien Loeb putting over three minutes into their nearest rival on the day.

"It was a short but very serious stage,” Peterhansel said.

"The lead is better than nothing. The overall classification is still very close, but it's a really interesting race for everybody, I think. We're still in the fight and that's the most important thing.”

The rally, which finishes in Buenos Aires on Saturday, re-enters Argentina on Tuesday.

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