Toby Price loses W2RC lead in cliffhanger finale

Toby Price has lost the W2RC lead on a tie-break. Image: Supplied

Toby Price has lost the W2RC lead on a tie-break. Image: Supplied

KTM’s Toby Price has dropped to second as live in the World Rally-Raid Championship despite extending his lead in the season-ending Rallye Du Maroc.

With just one stage to go in 2023, Price and Husqvarna’s Luciano Benavides are tied on 96 points on the live championship table, but the latter would take the title on a countback.

Both would finish the season with one event win each but, on the second tie-break of event second place finishes, Benavides would prevail, two-one.

The championship will therefore come down to tomorrow’s Merzouga loop stage but, in the Argentine’s favour, it is a relatively short, 152km special.

He will have the burden of opening the road, having won Stage 4 from Zagora to Merzouga, but is also poised to collect bonus time for doing so.

Benavides prevailed by a margin of 1:18s over Honda’s Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo on the day, with Red Bull KTM’s Price bringing his KTM 450 Rally home at 2:24s off the pace.

Overall, the Australian is in the box seat to win the rally given he will start the final stage with a 5:56s lead over Hero rider Ross Branch.

However, Benavides is just 28 seconds further back, and has a 1:36s buffer over fourth-placed Pablo Quintanilla (Honda).

“It was definitely a long day out there today,” said Price.

“I had a good day on the whole, I did make a couple of little navigation errors, but was able to fix them pretty quickly and didn’t lose too much time.

“It’s the last day tomorrow and things in the championship fight are getting really close.

“It looks like my issue in Argentina might come back to haunt me.

“All I can do here in Morocco is keep on fighting and let the race come to me. One day left, so I’m all in.”

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