Toby Price wins Dakar 2016
Toby Price took Dakar 2016 victory after more than 9,000km of competition and 48 hours of timed stages the 28-year-old took victory ahead of fellow KTM rider Stefan Svitko of Slovakia. Chilean Husqvarna rider Pablo Quintanilla rounded out the podium ahead of top Honda rider Kevin Benavides, while Yamaha’s Helder Rodrigues took fifth.
“I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to think… 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 at my second go 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!
“I tackled the race in true Aussie style. 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. 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 savour this victory.”
Toby Price was a dominating presence throughout the rally, which this year so had to deal with extreme weather conditions ranging from thunderstorms and flooding to intense temperatures.
Price scored a Dakar outright podium at his first attempt last year, thus he was more prepared this year, and with the benefit of full factory backing from KTM, Toby picked up his first stage win in the second stage after the first one which washed out by thunderstorms.
Price went on to survive the high altitudes of Bolivia, won Stages 5-6 and before the rest day in Salta he had moved into second overall.
Refreshed and recharged, Price went on to win the eighth and ninth stages to firmly establish himself as the man to beat.
As the rally went into more difficult navigation and at times blistering temperatures, Price continued to manage the final four stages to start the final day with an impressive 37-min 39-second advantage. By the chequered flag Price had added another minute-and-a-half buffer.
Dakar 2016 also saw the best ever result for Svitko. The Slovakian raced his first Dakar in 2010 and as fifth overall last year. Svitko won stage ten and despite a small setback in the next stage was consistently among the top three all the way to Rosario.
Third placed Quintanilla cemented his spot on the podium after a great rivalry between him and Red Bull KTM’s Dakar rookie Antoine Meo.
“The last stage was extremely hard. 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.”
“It has been a really hard, difficult Dakar, but I have been able to learn a lot from the race. I have arrived at Rosario, which is a dream and in addition I was able to win a stage and be the top rookie in the Dakar.
“In spite of some mistakes, I have learnt a lot and I believe that for the next one I will do even better. I’m going to continue working to improve every day.”
Right up to Stage 12, third place could have gone to either Quintanilla, Benavides or Meo, but the Frenchman crashed hard only 40km from the end of the penultimate stage. Meo struggled through to the end of the final stage clearly suffering from the effects of the crash but still managed to finish seventh overall. Meo, a multi Enduro world champion, has made a smooth and impressive transition into Rally Raid and leaves the competition as the stand out rookie and a double stage winner.
Adrien Van Van Beveren, a two-time winner of the Enduropale du Touquet, got stronger as the race went by and steadily climbed up the general classification and finished with an impressive sixth outright, the second Yamaha home in Dakar 2016 while Portugal’s Helder Rodrigues scores the honour of top finishing Yamaha WR450F pilot with fifth outright.
KTM factory rider Laia Sanz finished an impressive top 15, thus achieving her pre-rally goal. She did it after riding the last two stages with a high temperature and a broken collarbone and in doing so underlined her skill and her enormous fighting spirit.
Jordi Viladoms laboured during the first week with the effects of a fever and although his health improved in the second half of the rally, he had to settle for overall 17th.
Factory KTM Team Manager Alex Doringer said he was happy and proud of all of his team, but underlined the two weeks of the rally had been very, very tough. He said that the retirement of five-time Dakar winner Marc Coma last summer had in fact opened the door to a new generation and the reward which to be seen on the podium.
“I could see Toby was a top guy with potential and good navigation skills. He did an amazing job and I am very happy for him.
“When I brought him into the team I was very happy to do something for my old friend Kurt Caselli. He was the one who encouraged me to try to get Toby to the Dakar and today we see the result.
“I am so very proud of Antoine (Meo). He did so well in his first Dakar and he will be very good in the future. An incredibly brave ride to the finish today after he had a very big crash yesterday, but he wanted to be with the team at the end.
“It has therefore great to see the team spirit and the friendship that has built up between Toby and Antoine. Even though Toby was heading for the win, today he rode all the way behind Antoine to make sure he was going to make it to the finish.
“Jordi (Viladoms) had a tough two weeks because he was sick almost the whole time and he was not able to get back his strength to have a good result. But he is incredibly important for the team, and especially the way he helps and advises the young guys.
“And Laia (Sanz), well, she is unique the way she is able to fight, and we all have a huge respect for her. Everybody likes her and we’re so happy and proud indeed she is riding with us. It was not the result she perhaps what hoping for, but considering she had a big crash and also was sick, she did an amazing job.
“We are also super happy to have with Stefan Svitko on one of our customer bikes on the podium and this is what we work for.”