Not even Stéphane Peterhansel, Marc Coma and Cyril Despres, the most decorated competitors in the history of the Dakar, managed to do what Toby Price did this year —winning the most prestigious rally raid in the world in his second participation.
“It’s an amazing record”, blurted the KTM rider at the finish in Rosario. “To be the first Australian to win the Dakar in all divisions is crazy.” Price built his success on a surprising degree of maturity. The 28-year-old lad read the two weeks of racing like an open book.
“I pushed the days I needed to push and I looked after the bike the most in the marathon stages”, he explains. Toby Price made no mistakes in this department. The Australian made the most of a reliable KTM that won its fifteenth Dakar in a row, skilfully avoiding the pitfalls that swallowed his main rivals and seizing the lead just after the rest day.
Joan Barreda and Paulo Gonçalves, both pretenders to the crown, failed to reach the finish. The Spaniard was hit by a mechanical near Uyuni, while the Portuguese rider saw his hopes go up in smoke in Fiambalá, also due to engine troubles. Bolivia was also the graveyard of Ruben Faria and Matthias Walkner’s podium ambitions. The Portuguese suffered a broken hand and the Austrian a broken femur. Slovak Štefan Svitko and Chilean Pablo Quintanilla had a better Dakar and escorted Toby Price on the final podium.
The 38th Dakar also consecrated a new generation of riders who made their debut this year. Argentinian Kevin Benavides was the South American revelation and finished fourth overall after winning the third stage. Antoine Méo fought Kevin Benavides and Pablo Quintanilla for a podium place for most of the race.
However, a heavy fall on the day before the finish in Rosario pushed the five-time enduro world champion down to seventh place overall. The two-time winner of the Enduropale du Touquet, Adrien Van Beveren, also rode strongly and overtook Méo for sixth place in the closing stage. American Ricky Brabec, who flew the flag in the general classification for Honda, and Spaniard Armand Monleón rounded off the top 10.