Carlos Sainz has stayed in front at the Dakar Rally as the leading drivers struggled with navigation on Monday in the absence of the motorbike riders, who cancelled their stage in homage to Paulo Goncalves.
Australian reigning bike champion Toby Price was among the riders who honoured the popular Portuguese who died on Sunday following a crash on the seventh stage.
The bikes sat out stage 13, leaving the cars with some navigational issues.Credit:AP
"Worst day for the rally sport, rest and ride in peace Pablo Goncalves you will be missed by many," Price said via his Twitter account.
"Thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. This one hurts and is tough to swallow."
The quad bikers also sat out the stage with the cars racing on without the benefit of motorcycle tracks to judge the 477km loop around Wadi Al-Dawasir.
Sainz gradually fell off the pace, and lost time to title rivals Nasser Al-Attiyah and Stephane Peterhansel.
However, the Spaniard stayed in their dust trails and saw his lead over defending champion Al-Attiyah cut by more than three minutes to less than seven, and his 19-minute lead over 13-time winner Peterhansel down to 13.
There are four stages to go.
"It's the first time we've driven without the bikes' tracks and … the navigation is complicated when you have to follow a course in the dunes, there is always a tendency to deviate," Peterhansel said.
"On the hardest part, Nassar was out in front and we followed him. It's impossible to go fast opening the way. The bikers give us a lot of help with the navigation."
The eighth stage was a first-time win for French driver Mathieu Serradori, who became the first amateur to take a stage in 32 years.
Former Formula One champion Fernando Alonso achieved his best stage finish, second despite a puncture, and Orlando Terranova was third.
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