Price fastest in Finke prologue

Toby Price/Joseph Weining. Picture: Finke Desert Race

Toby Price has secured pole position for the 2021 Tatts Finke Desert Race with the fastest lap in the cars division on Method Race Wheels Prologue Day.

Price, alongside navigator Joseph Weining, will be first out for the outbound leg to Aputula after driving his Mitsubishi Triton trophy truck to a 4:38s time around the 8.3km prologue track.

The Dakar champion’s impressive effort was 2.8s faster than that with which he took pole in 2019, although he admitted that it was not perfect.

“It was a little nerve-racking,” said Price.

Being a brand-new truck, we just didn’t really quite know how it would perform through the whoops, [and on] the sighting lap, you’re just out there with another 150-odd cars.

“We pushed as hard as we could, and made a couple of little mistakes, but truck performed really well. The boys have done a great job prepping it and getting it sorted.”

A six-time King of the Desert on two wheels, Price looked like adding a four-wheeled Finke crown when the event was last run, in 2019, having been fastest on the out leg by eight minutes.

However, a rear gear failure on the return journey to Alice Springs cruelly brought him unstuck.

The 33-year-old is hoping for a change of luck this time around, as well as “scaring” Mark Dutton when the Triple Eight Race Engineering team manager takes navigation duties tomorrow.

“This is the first part of the whole weekend; two years ago it didn’t go so kind to me, so hopefully this year we’ll be able to get a good run and have a bit of fun down through the track,” added Price.

“Dutto’s in with us tomorrow morning and we’ve got a good clean track, so hopefully we can scare the hell out of him.

“For sure, you’ve got to be playing it smart, but we’re going to go full send and have a good go of it.

“Track’s a little smooth at the start, so we’ll just try and look after it there, but once we get into the whoops, it’s going to really shine. We should be good.”

Aaron James. Picture: Finke Desert Race

The 2019 runners-up, Josh Howells and Eric Hume, took the same position in this year’s prologue with a time 3.8s slower than Price’s.

Rounding out the top five were Beau Robinson/Shane Hutt, John Towers/Bruce Young, and Aaron James.

Price and Weining earned $5000 for the outright fastest lap, while Toby Whateley and Simon Herrmann bagged $2,500 for being the fastest UTV competitors, in 20th outright.

The 140-strong field will set off for the 226km trek from Alice Springs to Finke tomorrow from 07:30 local time/08:00 AEST.

Results: Prologue Top 10

Pos Cls Car Driver/Co-Driver/Navigator Vehicle Time Gap to leader Int
2 PRO 15 JOSH HOWELLS ERIC HUME JIMCO 3500TT NISSAN 3500cc 00:04:43.7 + 00:00:05.0 + 00:00:05.0
3 X2WD 413 BEAU ROBINSON SHANE HUTT GEISER BROS TROPHY TRUCK CHEV 6000cc 00:04:47.0 + 00:00:08.3 + 00:00:03.3
4 PRO 27 JOHN TOWERS BRUCE YOUNG JT LUSTRUM HONDA 3.2Lcc 00:04:48.7 + 00:00:10.0 + 00:00:01.7
5 PRO 93 AARON JAMES ALUMICRAFT FORD 3500cc 00:04:54.0 + 00:00:15.3 + 00:00:05.3
6 X2WD 410 GREG GARTNER JAMIE JENNINGS MARK HANNAFORD FORD RAPTOR GEISER FORD 6000cc 00:04:54.1 + 00:00:15.4 + 00:00:00.1
7 PRO 23 PETER COSTELLO BEN BROOKS JIMCO AUSSIE SPECIAL 3500 CC TOYOTA 3500cc 00:04:54.7 + 00:00:16.0 + 00:00:00.6
8 PROLITE 135 ANDREW MOWLES TEEGAN MOWLES LEE BAUWENS JAG RAZORBACK 2010 BMW 3.5cc 00:04:55.9 + 00:00:17.2 + 00:00:01.2
9 X2WD 454 BRAD GALLARD DEAN KEYES SCOTT MODISTACH GEISER BROS TROPHY TRUCK CHEV 6000CC CHEV 6000cc 00:04:56.6 + 00:00:17.9 + 00:00:00.7
10 PRO 16 TALBOT COX CRAIG KING RACER ENGINEERING TOYOTA 5600cc 00:04:57.7 + 00:00:19.0 + 00:00:01.1

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