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Australian rider Sanders was declared the winner of Stage 6 as the day’s 421km loop around Riyadh was cut short at the first neutralised zone after 101km.
That was due to safety concerns regarding the degradation of the terrain, which had been used by the cars and trucks competitors on Thursday and further worsened by heavy rain.
Sanders led at each waypoint to finish 2m26s up on Sunderland, who in turn finished just 10 seconds ahead of his nearest rival in the general classification, KTM’s Matthias Walkner.
It means Sunderland takes a lead of 2m39s over Walkner into the rest day, with Sanders moving up to third place, just 5m35s back from his teammate.
Third overnight, Adrian van Beveren slipped a place in the overall rankings after finishing eighth on the stage, 4m10s down on Sanders.
Honda’s Pablo Quintanilla completes the top five, surpassing Sherco rider Lorenzo Santolino with the fourth-best time on the stage.
KTM’s reigning champion Kevin Benavides goes into the rest day eighth, behind privateer Stefan Svitko, while Joan Barreda sits ninth, having elected to continue in the rally despite hurting his shoulder in a crash on Thursday.
There was drama for Yamaha’s Ross Branch, who started the stage seventh overall but had to be transported by road to the bivouac for medical treatment following an early crash.
Likewise suffering an incident early on was Thursday’s stage winner Danilo Petrucci (KTM), but the ex-MotoGP racer was able to continue and finish 40th, 12m44s off the pace.
Fellow KTM man Toby Price, who lost Thursday’s stage win due to a speeding penalty, was ninth on Friday and heads into the rest day 12th overall, while 2020 champion Ricky Brabec (Honda) lies 15th.
Standings after Stage 6:
|4||42||Adrien van Beveren||YAMAHA||20:03:42||+00:07:43||00:00:00|
|6||15||Lorenzo Santolino||SHERCO FACTORY||20:14:21||+00:18:22||00:00:00|