[Features]

Passed By Toby Price. And Proud of It!

1 month ago | Words: Andy Wigan | Photos: Donat O'Kelly, Troy Pears

Toby Price is a busy man. These days, the two-time Dakar Rally winner spends so much of his time in the world’s far-flung deserts that we only catch a glimpse of him back in Oz a few times a year: at the Clipsal 500, where he hucks a stadium truck into orbit; on the Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend in June, when he lines up for the Finke Desert Race; and at a Transmoto Enduro event, where he rocks up with a bunch mates to have a laid-back whale of a time.

Over the years, Price has raced at a bunch of Transmoto events, and last year, while still recovering from the wrist he’d mangled en route to winning the 2018 Dakar, he used the Transmoto 6-Hour at Nabiac for a sand-terrain shakedown. And funnily enough, we’re still hearing entrants’ stories about meeting the super-approachable Toby Price at a Transmoto event – either around the campfire, or out on the track, where people generally only see him for a nanosecond as he blows by and gives them a hoot!

Every time I hear one of these stories, it reminds me of my own story of being passed by Pricey a few years back at Conondale’s Transmoto 6-Hour

I’ve made three passes in the space of five minutes, and I’m feeling pretty good about myself. The sun is shining. Everyone seems happy. I’m aboard KTM’s lightweight new 350XC-F cross-country weapon. And I’ve found a window between organisational duties at the Transmoto 6-Hour – staged on the hallowed hillsides surrounding Conondale’s iconic Green Park MX track – to cut a few cheeky laps. But just as I’m enjoying the fact I haven’t been in anyone’s dust for a minute or two, I sense a bike on my tail. It’s got a throaty exhaust note, and I can hear the bloke has good throttle control, but I’m not about to let him past. Not immediately, anyway. I mean, it would dangerous to do so in the middle of this gnarly, off-camber singletrail, right? (translation: ‘I’m acting like a dick cos I’m not into the idea of sitting in your dust so soon after reaching this rarefied fresh air, pal’).

Anyway, by the time the goat-track opens up into flowing firetrail, it sounds like I’ve opened a decent gap on my pursuer. Chest out and elbows up, I fire the Kato off a downhill section’s first erosion mound. Next thing I know – and literally within a second of first hearing the return of that throaty exhaust – boom, I’ve been passed! The guy is doing what seems twice my speed, and I just catch a glimpse of a Red Bull logo on the side of his bike. Yep, there goes Toby Price…

Now, under normal circumstances, being overtaken by Toby Price wouldn’t rate a mention. After all, he’s as quick as they come, and I’m … not so much. The multiple enduro, desert-racing, and now Dakar Rally champ could ride rings around me with one hand tied behind his back. But the pass that Price put on me was memorable for another reason. It wasn’t so much that Pricey blew by me so fast that the force of the wind almost took my jersey with him; nor the fact he passed me on a downhill with so many loose rocks that it was all I could do to apply the front brake without washing out. It was the fact Price managed to dismantle my illusion of speed by passing me aboard his KTM 450 Rallye; the mega machine he took to that historic Dakar Rally win earlier that year (2016).

While I’m wondering how I’m going to pull my featherweight 350 up before spearing off at the bottom of this sketchy hill, Price is casually jumping his big-tanked behemoth off each erosion mound and two-wheel drifting the thing as if he’s riding a mountain bike. All I can do is laugh to myself and marvel at this stark reminder of how Toby Price operates on an entirely different level to everybody else. Well, to a majority of us, anyway.

Later that afternoon, as everyone is gathered for the presentation, I give a few people my account of being passed by Price. Funnily enough, they each fire their own ‘passed by Price’ story straight back at me. And unlike most stories about being passed – the ones we tend not to share with the world – this time around, we all seem to wear them like a badge of honour.

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