‘Stoked’ Price thought he could only last two stages

Toby Price

Toby Price is “so damned stoked” to finish the 41st Dakar Rally with his second title having feared not making the second week due to a fractured wrist.

Price broke the scaphoid in his right hand in a training accident midway through December but rode through “pain and torture” for 10 stages to deliver KTM its 18th straight Dakar in a one-two-three for the Austrian marque.

While he put on a brave face in the days leading up to the first stage on January 7, the Australian was already suffering as soon as he got going.

He got lost on Stage 3 but managed to stay near enough to the overall lead, only to feel as though he was “starting to fade” as the second half of the event began after the rest day.

Still without a stage win to that point, Price hit the front of the general classification for the first time on Stage 8 and remained there until the end.

“It’s very crazy to sit here and say that we won the Dakar rally with no stage victories until today,” he said.

“I’m over the moon, I’m so damned stoked. It’s been a long 10 days.

“Now I’ll just wait and see what damage I’ve done to my wrist. At the end of the day, the pain and torture has been worth it.

“I thought I would only be able to do two stages and then pull out and that would have been me done, but the support from everyone back home in Australia and then having some things go my way and a bit of luck, it just worked out in the end.

“It’s been an unreal rally.”

Having described his wrist as being “on fire” after Stage 8, the 31-year-old had an ever more colourful turn of phrase to describe the pain after winning Stage 10.

“Pretty much all I can say is that it feels like there are about five people driving a knife in my wrist now,” explained Price.

“It’s not very comfortable, it’s not very enjoyable, but at the end of the day the victory has paid off. I’ll forget about the pain now, that’s for sure. The win takes away all the pain.

“For sure, if it wasn’t for this victory it wouldn’t have been as sweet, but at the end of the day I was just happy to make the finishing line. I didn’t think I was even going to be able to do that.”

Price started the final day with a 1:02s margin over Pablo Quintanilla, but was handed a big free kick when the Chilean crashed his Husqvarna as a result of a hard landing off a dune.

Quintanilla remounted and made the finish despite injuring an ankle, but was ultimately put back to fourth in the general classification, in part due to Sam Sunderland having a one-hour penalty from days ago overturned.

As such, the 2016 champion Price was joined on the podium by 2018 champion Matthias Walkner in second position and 2017 champion Sunderland.

He paid tribute to each of them, as well as the hard-charging American Ricky Brabec, whose Honda’s engine failed in almost identical circumstances to those of a year earlier.

“I’m not the new boss of the rally, that’s for sure,” declared Price.

“There are so many guys that can win this race and we had strong competitors like Pablo and Ricky Brabec, Sam Sunderland, Matthias Walkner… everyone is strong. You can never count anybody out.

“Kevin Benavides did a great job and at the end of the day we all fight to the finish line and it’s been a hard rally.

“I just don’t like giving up, I don’t like quitting, that’s for sure. That’s about it.

“I love being out on my bike and I love riding and to be here with all the Dakar family and the KTM team it’s amazing. So, yeah, we’re pumped.”

Price’s win comes 12 months after another major effort to make the podium following his recovery from a broken leg.

On that occasion, he started training only six weeks before Dakar following the injury sustained in the 2017 edition, but was still an outside chance to win on the final day.

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