Price relieved to avoid opening next Dakar stage

Toby Price

Toby Price

KTM rider Toby Price is relieved to not have to open Stage 12 of the Dakar Rally after setting the third-fastest time on Stage 11.

The two-time Dakar champion regained one position to sit second overall at 28 seconds behind Skyler Howes with just three days to go in the 2023 edition.

Price and Howes have essentially run in lockstep in recent days, in a see-sawing battle with the former’s Red Bull KTM team-mate Kevin Benavides, who dropped from first overall to third on Stage 11 having done the exact opposite on Stage 10.

Road order position has been a major factor as Dakar 2023 moved into the dunes during its second week, and riders are not keen to blaze the trail for their rivals.

“For sure, starting further back was a little bit better option today,” said Price, who was 19th to set off for the latest special stage.

“It looks like there was a bit of a navigation error earlier on, which I kind of avoided. I went a little bit right again, but fixed it quite quickly so I feel like we didn’t lose too much.

“Looks like it’s not a bad result, having to be able to not open out tomorrow.

“We’ll just keep fighting, there’s still a long way to go and see what we can come up with.”

Howes thought much the same after finishing fourth-quickest on the day.

“The stage was really fast, also lots of dunes and really big dunes too,” said the factory Husqvarna rider.

“I felt the rhythm pretty good and had a good pace going. I got stuck on a couple of dunes, had to turn around, and fell over on one of them while I was turning around, so kind of a bummer there to lose some time.

“Also, I had to search for one waypoint for a little bit. I didn’t get it really like perfect, but otherwise it was not really such a huge deal.

“So, a couple of small little mistakes today that slowed me down just a bit, but it actually puts me in a good position for tomorrow and the bike’s overall in really good condition.”

Stage 12, the second half of the Marathon phase of the event when external assistance is not allowed, will also take place in the Empty Quarter.

Luciano Benavides, on the other Husqvarna Factory Racing entry, is set to open after he was quickest on the latest special.

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