Danilo Petrucci enjoyed his best Dakar performance since Saturday's midway rest day, clocking the eleventh fastest time on Stage 10, with the end of the Saudi Arabian event now in sight.

The 759km ride from Wadi Ad Dawasir to Bisha included a 375km timed special on fast sandy tracks, with the odd dirt and dune section.

Petrucci completed the stage 7min 53s behind fastest man and factory KTM team-mate Toby Price, but was only 1m 25s from a place in the top 5.

“Today was tough because it became very hot as the day went on and then it’s easier to make mistakes," said the former MotoGP rider, who made history by winning Stage 5 before suffering an elbow injury on Stage 6.

"I’m pleased with my result, but I didn’t push too hard because I’m really close to the end now and my main goal has always been to finish the race," he said.

Just two more stages now separate the Italian rookie, out of the overall Dakar running due to an early electrical problem, from reaching the finish.

"Two more days to go, and I’m looking forward to getting to the end.”

At the front of the field, the bike category leader changed yet again with Yamaha's Adrien Van Beveren now back in front, by 5m 59s from GASGAS rider Sam Sunderland.

Matthias Walkner, the leader at the start of the day, has dropped to fourth overall after sinking to 27th position on Stage 11.

“Today after I hit the front, I lost some time with a couple of small mistakes," he said. "The sun was really high and it made visibility quite bad, which in turn made the pistes really difficult to see when you’re out front.

"It’s frustrating, but that’s always the way it is. Up to that point I think I was riding really well and making up good time. We still have two very long stages to go, so I’ll get some rest tonight and then be ready to attack again tomorrow.”