Toby Price has shaken off the effects of a fractured wrist to win the 41st Dakar Rally after taking out the relatively short final stage from Pisco to Lima.
The title is his second in the iconic rally raid, having become the first Australian to win the Dakar when he triumphed three years ago, and KTM’s 18th in a row.
While Price seized control of the 2016 event in its second week, he started Stage 10 on the final day of the 2019 Dakar as one of three contenders.
After a cagey mass start stage the day before, it was Price with a 1:02s advantage over Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factor Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla, and 6:35s over Red Bull KTM Factory Team team-mate Matthias Walkner.
However, the final 112km special stage was all but over as a contest when Quintanilla went down just 10 kilometres in.
Having gone out hard in an attempt to overhaul Price, the Chilean crashed and injured his ankle, losing around eight minutes.
Price started three minutes later than Quintanilla at 0833 local time as the field were let loose in reverse order of general classification, and arrived at Waypoint 1 with the second-fastest split, 14 seconds down on Honda’s Kevin Benavides (Argentinean).
By the time he got to the second waypoint, the stage lead had switched to another factory KTM rider and former champion in Sam Sunderland (British), with Price 11 seconds slower.
The Australian hadn’t yet won a stage in this year’s Dakar, after going close on Stage 8 when he took the general classification lead for the first time in 2019, but he finished off in style with the fastest time back to Lima.
Competitor #3 reached the finish line 2:21s faster than Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo (Honda, Chilean), while third on the day for Walkner by another 17 seconds saw the Austrian hand over the #1 plate as Dakar runner-up for 2019.
The general classification thus reads, after 10 stages and around 3000 timed kilometres, Price 33 hours, 57 minutes, and 16 seconds; Walkner 34 hours, six minutes, and 29 seconds; and Sunderland 34 hours, 10 minutes, and 50 seconds.
Quintanilla pushed through pain of his own to make the finish 19:44s down on Price but slipped to fourth in the general classification, while fifth went to his American team-mate Andrew Short.
Sunderland’s leap onto the podium came after his one-hour penalty for altering his Iritrack system was reversed.
Australia’s two rookies in Ben Young and James Ferguson also made it all the way back to Lima, from which the field set out on January 7.
Young, the Melburnian riding the private Duust Rally Team KTM, takes home 51st in class.
Ferguson, who counted his local KTM Newcastle dealership among his sponsors, was 67th all told.
He was, however, also 11th of 15 finishers in the Original by Motul subclass which sees riders compete without assistance from anyone except each other.
Yamaha’s ‘water carrier’ Rodney Faggotter was the sole Australian not to make the finish in the Bikes after he was trapped by a technical problem three stages in.
Price’s triumph, meanwhile, comes after he broke the scaphoid in his right wrist during training for the Dakar just a month earlier.
General classification: Bikes
|6||Xavier DE SOULTRAIT||FRA||Yamaha||+00:54:00|
|7||Jose Ignacio CORNEJO FLORIMO||CHI||Honda||+01:08:06|
|10||Daniel NOSIGLIA JAGER||BOL||Honda||+02:31:53|