Aussie Toby Price may not have won, but he certainly proved beyond doubt that he’s every inch a worthy Dakar hero, finishing third in his comeback ride in the world’s toughest off-road event.
Price broke his leg in the same event last year and lengthy rehab and further complications kept him off the bike for most of 2017, landing at the start line of this year’s Dakar with little more than a month’s riding time.
The wily Gold Coast resident carefully played himself into overall contention, until a navigation error during Stage 10 of the Rally dropped him almost 50 minutes behind the overall leader.
The KTM rider went on the rampage from that point, adding to his earlier three podiums with two wins and a second place from the remaining three rounds, and hauling himself back from fifth to third, to within just 23 minutes of Dakar Rally winner and Red Bull team mate Matthias Walkner.
“The final stage is over and it went really well,” said Price. “I’m happy to get to the finish line, that was always the main goal right from the start. I tried to push today to make up the time on Kevin (Benavides) but halfway through I knew five minutes was just too much and so I just aimed for a safe finish. To finish the Dakar is an achievement in itself, to come away at the end of this year’s race with a podium is unbelievable, especially after the year I’ve had. The whole team have come together and worked so hard, none of us could do it without them. I’ll concentrate on the 2018 season now and try to get a little stronger and come back here next year looking for the top-step.”
Walker won from Honda racer Kevin Benavides with Price third, while the other Queensland resident in the motorcycle category, Rodney Faggotter, who finished 16th overall.
The Yamaha Yamalube rider from Longreach finished off his 2018 odyssey with his fourth top-twenty result of the event, securing a well-deserved 16th place in the General Classification.
"The race is over and I'm happy I crossed the finish line,” said Faggotter. “Today we raced a shorter stage and it all went pretty well for me. The starting order this morning was reversed so we had to pay extra attention when passing riders in front. I am happy with my top-20 result for the day and with my 16th position in the final overall standings. Its been a long two weeks of racing and I'm happy to be here at the finish line. This has been a demanding Dakar so to reach the finish is a feat in itself. I really had a great time racing with the team here in South America."
2018 Dakar Rally General Classification after 14th and final round.
1 Matthias Walkner Red Bull KTM Factory Team 43h 06' 01''
2 Kevin Benavides Monster Energy Honda Team + 00h 16' 53''
3 Toby Price Red Bull KTM Factory Team + 00h 23' 01'' <span style="mso-tab-count:
16 Rodney Faggotter Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team + 03h 58' 16''
Dakar final stage results:
1 Kevin Benavides Monster Energy Honda Team 01h 26' 41''
2 Toby Price Red Bull KTM Factory Team + 00h 00' 54''
3 Antoine Meo Red Bull KTM Factory Team + 00h 02' 49''
minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
EN-US;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">19 Rodney Faggotter Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team + 00h 12' 18''