Price in fightback mode on Dakar Stage 2

Toby Price

Toby Price is pleased to have made up some ground on the front-runners after finishing fifth on Stage 2 of the 2022 Dakar Rally.

The two-time Dakar champion started the day a full 47 minutes off the pace after being one of several to get lost on the day prior due to a confusing roadbook note, which he described as “a bit of a shit way to start the rally”.

While he did not trouble Joan Barreda Bort for stage honours in the latest special, between Ha’il and Al Qaisumah, Price was able to cut almost 15 minutes from his deficit to the overall lead.

Officially, the Red Bull KTM rider is 15th, 32:48s behind new event leader Sam Sunderland.

“Today went a lot better than yesterday, and I was able to claw back a little time on the leaders,” said Price.

“It’s always tough when you lose a big chunk of time early on, but it’s still very early days and there’s a lot of racing left.

“The bike is really good – I’m feeling really comfortable – so let’s continue tomorrow and see what happens.”

Price will, of course, have four riders starting ahead of him on Stage 3, and a favourable road position will also be a positive for KTM team-mate Matthias Walkner, who had a mixed day.

The Austrian could only manage 14th on Stage 2 after he strayed off-course, and dropped one spot to fourth in overall classification.

However, drama for erstwhile event leader Daniel Sanders, among others, means Walkner is almost seven minutes closer to top spot at 4:08s back.

“I had a good stage today, I started third so that was always going to be quite tough,” said the 2018 Dakar champion.

“After the refueling, the guys in front made a mistake, I stayed on the wrong line too for a little while, but then realised my mistake and was able to get back on course.

“For the rest of the stage, I was riding with another couple of riders with us taking it in turns to open. Navigation was really tricky, but I think we did a good job.”

Kevin Benavides was Red Bull KTM’s best on the day in third spot, and now occupies 11th overall.

“Today was a good day, especially after such a tough day yesterday,” said the man on Bike #1.

“I started near the back and was able to push really hard. The special today was really fast in places, but also quite complicated – you had to know where to attack and where to focus on your navigation.

“It’s only Day 2 and everything can happen at the Dakar – there are always ups and downs. I’m looking forward to the next few days.”

On the fourth factory KTM, former MotoGP rider Danilo Petrucci failed to make the finish due to a technical problem.

Stage 3 starts this afternoon (AEDT).

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