Australia’s indomitable motorcycle star Toby Price has won his first stage at this year’s Dakar Rally and refuses to give up on his dream of a third overall triumph.
The double champion landed victory in the 10th stage of the rally by two minutes nine seconds over the rest of the field after 375km of racing in Wednesday’s slog from Wadi Ad Dawasir to Bisha.
It thrust him from ninth to sixth overall, still 27 minutes 43 seconds behind Adrien van Beveren, the French leader in the bikes’ category, with only two stages remaining in the two-week endurance race that snakes around the dunes and rocks in the Saudi Arabian desert.
Yet even though the 34-year-old’s charge appears too little too late in a race where he’s been playing catch-up since a calamitous first stage cost him over 45 minutes, Price won’t give up.
“It’s been a really good day,” said the Red Bull KTM rider.
“Still two days to come and, honestly, anything can happen, it’s not over until the finish, but it’s definitely slowly starting to get out of reach.
“We won’t give up, we’ll keep trying until the last day.”
The race’s fickle nature was evident again as reigning bikes’ champion Kevin Benavides suffered technical problems and had to retire.
“It was Kevin who unfortunately had to stop today. It’s not over until it’s done. Just got to keep charging and hopefully tomorrow we’ll have a really good day,” added Price.
It was the Australian’s first win of the 2022 Rally. He thought he’d won the fifth stage last week only to later have it taken from him for a speeding violation on a public section of the course that cost him a six-minute penalty.
Price, winner in 2016 and 2019, had been lying second overall last year but ended in hospital after a bad crash that left him with arm and shoulder injuries and requiring three operations.
This year’s edition, thankfully, has apparently cost him only a damaged tooth.
“I’m really stoked now – I can get my chipped tooth fixed and go from there, so happy days,” said Price.
In his seven previous races, Price, from Hillston, NSW, has always been on the podium whenever he’s made it to the finish – five times in all – and he’s hoping to keep up that record in Jeddah on Friday.
Australian duo Molly Taylor and Dale Moscatt had a tough day in the SSV category for four-wheel side-by-side vehicles, losing over an hour and a quarter as they came home 41st of the 43 remaining competitors and dropped back from 10th overall to 13th.
In the cars’ category, France’s ‘Mr Dakar’ Stephane Peterhansel won the stage with Qatar’s Nasser Al Attiyah still leading the race by 32 minutes 40 seconds from nine-time world rally champion Sebastian Loeb.