Red Bull KTM’s Toby Price becomes the first Australian ever to win a category in the Dakar Rally; KTM ups motorcycle win streak to 15 straight!
Toby Price may not be a miracle man, but his Dakar rally record of one overall motorcycle win is already one for the history books.
The 28-year-old Price achieved it by rolling trouble-free into Rosario, Argentina, after two grueling weeks of battling all manner of terrain in Argentina and Bolivia. In doing so, he added his name to the history books as the first Australian ever to claim a Dakar win in any category. Not only that, but he also one-upped Dakar rally demigods Stéphane Peterhansel, Marc Coma and Cyril Despres by claiming his first Dakar win in only his second start, something none of them were able to accomplish. Granted, Price still has a long way to go to match their amazing individual records in the Dakar, but if that ultimately happens, 2016 will likely be remembered as the year he got off to a damn good start.
“I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to think,” Price said. “I’m in shock. I never would’ve thought I could win this race in my second participation. This is incredible for my family, my friends and my fans back in Australia! Winning in my second participation is awesome, but being the first Australian to win the Dakar is just insane. I would’ve never imagined this two years ago. Finishing the rally is already a triumph. Winning it is amazing…To be the first Australian to win the Dakar in all divisions is crazy.”
In all, Price claimed five stage wins in the 12 of 13 stages that were run; the opening stage was cancelled outright due to rain, and other stages were significantly shortened throughout the weather either due to rain or extreme heat. He ultimately finished with a winning time of 48 hours, 9 minutes and 15 seconds, a comfortable 39 minutes and 41 seconds ahead of Slovnaft KTM rider Stefan Svitko of Slovakia.
Perhaps more importantly was how Price maintained the maturity of the aforementioned Coma throughout the event, staying out of trouble and doing only as much as he needed to in order to run near the front of the field, capitalizing as his main competitors–most notably Team HRC Honda riders Joan Barreda and Paulo Goncalves–suffered misfortune. The rally did not come to Price. He simply displayed the same type of Coma-like generalship that saw the Spaniard dominate the event over the past half decade.
“I attacked when I had to, when the time was right, and I kept an eye on my bike during the all-important marathon stages,” Price said. “I also navigated rather well. I hope this is just the start, to win again. It won’t be easy, so I’ve got to savor this victory.”
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla improved from his fourth-place finish of last year to give the factory Husqvara team a podium in its first attempt at the Dakar Rally. The Chilean won the final stage to secure the third spot even though Benavides made him earn it. Benavides tried to make up the ground he had lost earlier in the week, but he ended up second in the stage and ultimately came 5 minutes and 59 seconds short of passing Quintanilla for third place overall. Quintanilla was obviously pleased to land third overall.
“The last stage was extremely hard,” he said. “There was a lot of tension and nerves before the start. The entire race came down to this one stage. I started fast and, thanks to today and the team’s work, we defended our third place. I’m delighted. It was such a tough Dakar that we had to fight for the podium the last day, which is usually an opportunity to kick back and relax. For me, the last stage was the toughest, the most nerve-wracking one in the entire rally. I was hurt before the rally, but professional work helps you overcome that. The investment paid off today.”
Indeed, with the retirement of Coma in 2015, it appears that the Dakar and the rally world stands have its stock affected by a new generation of riders, including Price, Barreda, Svitko, Quintanilla, Austria’s Matthias Walkner and at least three Dakar rookies: Red Bull KTM’s Antoine Meo, Honda South America’s Benavides and Team HRC’s capable American, Ricky Brabec. Rally raid racing is more and more becoming recognized as the sport of kings in the off-road racing world, and fans can expect the competition to be hotly contested among those who want to become the next Coma, Despres or Peterhansel.
Not to be forgotten is Yamaha Factory Racing Yamalube rider Helder Rodrigues, who returned to the blU cRU after stints at KTM and Honda and put his factory YZ450F Rally into fifth overall thanks to a strong surge during the second half of the rally. Rodrigues also gave the Yamaha brand its only stage win of 2016, during the penultimate Stage 12.
“I am very happy to cross the finish line of my tenth Dakar,” Rodrigues said. “Today’s reverse departure order made it hard for me to push for a better placement in the overall classification, as the dust thrown up by the first competitors made the stage dangerous. The challenge was more on not to take any risks, in order to cross the timed section finish and complete the liaison section to Rosario’s podium in good shape.This top-five position is a true satisfaction for me, regarding my bad physical conditions during the first week. It was such a tough Dakar Rally, but we did a great job with Yamaha and I think we had a pleasant journey altogether…Thanks Yamaha!”
America can definitely rest its hopes on Brabec, who clearly carries on the work benchmarked by the late, great Kurt Caselli. In just his rookie Dakar, the Californian was impressive, finishing has high as second in one of the stages and coming home ninth overall even after seeing his overall time suffer as a result of his dutiful assistance to Goncalves very early in the rally. Brabec never complained, and he never faltered, and he fought his way back inside the top 10 to stay during the second week of the rally. If things go his way, a podium finish certainly is not out of the question in the future.
“I’m really excited finishing my first Dakar,” Brabec said. “I want to come back and do better. I’m excited to be on the [Team HRC] team. This is my third rally ever, so that is a huge accomplishment for me. So, finishing in the top 10 in my first rally is pretty good, and I’m the only rider on the team to get a top 10. So, we’ll see if we can improve and come back next year and do better. Back in June 2015 I had a broken neck, and it took a good six months to heal. I was talking to a doctor, eating some special foods and trying to get as much calcium and vitamins as I needed to get back to racing. This is my second race back, and the biggest race in the world, and I’m happy to have accomplished the goal and get a finish and my medal.”
2016 Dakar Rally
Villa Carlos Paz to Rosario, Argentina
Results: January 16, 2016 (stage 13 of 13)
1. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL)-Hus/1 hour, 51 minutes, 27 seconds
2. Kevin Benavides (ARG)-Hon/+00:01:41
3. Helder Rodrigues (PRT)-Yam/+00:02:37
4. Toby Price (AUS)-KTM/+00:04:22
5. Stefan Svitko (SVK)-KTM/+00:06:24
6. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP)-KTM/+00:10:52
7. Ivan Cervantes Montero (ESP)-KTM/+00:11:50
8. Ricky Brabec (USA)-Hon/+00:12:43
9. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA)-Yam/+00:14:09
10. Mario Patrao (PRT)-KTM/+00:14:43
2016 Dakar Rally Overall Standings (after 13 of 13 stages)
1. Toby Price (AUS)-KTM/48 hours, 09 minutes, 15 seconds
2. Stefan Svitko (SVK)-KTM/+00:39:41 (1-minute time penalty)
3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL)-Hus/+00:48:48
4. Kevin Benavides (ARG)-Hon/+00:54:47
5. Helder Rodrigues (PRT)-Yam/+00:55:44 (5-minute time penalty)
6. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA)-Yam/+01:46:29
7. Antoine Meo (FRA)-KTM/+01:56:47
8. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP)-KTM/+02:01:00
9. Ricky Brabec (USA)-Hon/+02:11:27
10. Armand Monleon (ESP)-KTM/+03:27:49
11. Michael Metge (FRA)-Hon/+03:50:05
12. Jacopo Cerutti (ITA)-Hus/+04:11:40
13. Mario Patrao (PRT)-KTM/+04:14:32 (1-minute time penalty)
14. Emanuel Gyenes (ROU)-KTM/+04:18:48
15. Laia Sanz (ESP)-KTM/+04:33:28
16. Ivan Cervantes Montero (ESP)-KTM/+04:45:23 (2-minute time penalty)
17. Jordi Viladoms (ESP)-KTM/+04:51:04 (7-minute time penalty)
18. David Casteu (FRA)-KTM/+05:18:04
19. Frans Verhoeven (NLD)-Yam/+05:19:28 (17-minute time penalty)
20. Jakub Piatek (POL)-KTM/+05:48:09 (16-minute time penalty)