TOBY PRICE’S TWO CONSECUTIVE NEAR MISSES
You can’t help but feel for Toby Price, whose 2023 rally-racing campaign has been defined by bad luck and agonisingly near misses. Back in January, the big Aussie was deprived of his third Dakar Rally victory after finishing runner-up by the smallest margin in the iconic event’s history to his KTM teammate, Kevin Benavides. Then, to rub salt into his wounds, Price has just had to settle for second place in the 2023 FIM World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC) by a measly 4 points – this time to Kevin’s brother, Husky-mounted Luciano Benavides.
Remember also that Price was well placed to win his second W2RC title, until a problem with his shock absorber early in Argentina’s five-day Desafio Ruta 40 rally, and that misfortune turned his 7-point lead into an 8-point deficit heading into the final leg of the W2RC in Morocco.
Price did all he could to claw back the differential to Luciano Benavides in the standings by winning the Rallye Du Maroc by an impressive margin of more than three minutes, meaning Benavides needed a third-place finish or better to secure the championship. Which, to the Argentinean’s credit, he managed to do. Price, therefore, had to settle for second in the championship.
According to Price’s KTM team, “2023 has been a year of mixed fortunes for Toby, but the two-time Dakar Champion has carried his fight all the way to the final round. Second at the Dakar Rally, missing out on the win by just 44 seconds to Red Bull KTM teammate Kevin Benavides, Price then took the world championship lead with third place at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. A fourth place at the Sonora Rally saw him extend that lead before an unfortunate technical issue at the Desafio Ruta 40 cost him time and his championship advantage.
“Knowing he had to win at the Rallye du Maroc, Toby gave it everything and came out on top. Disappointed not to have taken the title, but happy with his performances throughout the year, Price now looks ahead to the 2024 Dakar Rally where he will challenge for his third victory at the world’s toughest rally-raid.”
As always, Price remained humble and philosophical about the title outcome. “Yeah, I’m happy to have won the round here in Morocco. The championship is a hard one to swallow though. We put up a good fight and did everything we could, but 2023 just hasn’t been the greatest season for us. I’m happy in the fact that I never gave up and put in 100 percent right to the finish. I’ll take a little time now to get some rest but then we’re soon looking ahead to the Dakar in January. For sure, it’s going to be another tough one, but I’m feeling good, the bike is great, and I’ll do my best as always,” Price went on to say.
Given everything that’s gone down this year, we’re chancing a guess there’ll be an extra dose of motivation for the 36-year-old Price at the 2024 Dakar Rally, which gets underway this coming January.