Australian Dakar Rally racer Todd Smith continues to impress after a sixth-place finish of Stage 7, from La Paz to Uyuni, Bolivia, overnight.
Smith sits in 16th place overall.
The seventh stage was the first of the Dakar’s gruelling ‘marathon stages’, where competitors have to tough it out without team help overnight.
Riders could still work on their bikes for repairs or modifications, although no replacement parts were available.
The timed section was also modified to 161 kilometres after poor weather cancelled Stage 6.
Ricky Brabec took the stage win, his first, while Sam Sunderland (KTM) extended his lead.
Recently released KTM press material said Smith is one to watch this year and into the future:
“Taking part in his first Dakar behind the handlebars of a KTM bike, the Aussie undoubtedly did not expect to be in with a shout so early on, especially on a Dakar rally that has tripped up many of the favourites.
“However, with every special he completes, Smith seems to be more and more comfortable, as he showed today with a magnificent sixth place in Stage 7 which sees him 14th in the overall standings.
“He is unquestionably a rider to watch, up to Buenos Aires and in the years to come.”
The Condobolin local is a 2013 Finke Champion, most recently taking second place at the Condo 750, behind brother Jake.
Compatriot Matt Hart (Husqvarna) finished the stage in 53rd, and is sitting 100th overall.