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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Price shows grit to win second Dakar

It’s billed as the ultimate test of man and machine.

Australian Toby Price likely won’t argue with that assessment after he fought through a broken bone in his wrist and battled some of Peru’s most unforgiving terrain to claim his second Dakar Rally crown.

The former Singleton sports star fractured his scaphoid bone weeks before the 41st edition but showed remarkable grit and consistency to stick with the leaders in the early stages.

Price, who won his first Dakar title in 2016, eventually took the overall lead with two days left as the previous leader, American Ricky Brabec, went out of contention in stage eight with an engine failure.

Price with the trophy.

He then finished runner-up in stage nine – a 313-kilometre loop of Pisco – one second behind Chilean Pablo Quintanilla and with the exact same time as KTM teammate Matthias Walkner.

The trio led the rest of the pack by more than half an hour going into the final stage – a short 112-km timed special.

The reverse grid stage meant Price was the last rider to begin the stage.

However, he pushed hard to claim his only stage win of the rally and win his second title, finishing more than nine minutes ahead Walkner, while Great Britain’s Sam Sunderland placed third.

“It feels amazing to stand here knowing I have won the Dakar, I don’t think it has really sunk in yet,” Price said.

“It was so tight going into the [final stage], both Pablo and I knew we would have to push right from the start.

“Unfortunately for him, he went too hard off a dune, but he really deserves a win too – everyone that starts this race deserves a win.

“The plan now is to go home and relax for a little while; I know I need to have my wrist seen to, so I’ll get that sorted and then it won’t be long before we start it all over again.”

The Dakar Rally kicked off in 1978.

This year’s event was the first time it took place in one country.

Starting and finishing in Lima, Peru, competitors faced more than 5,000-kilometres of the traditional elements – gravel, sand dunes and desert – over the 10 stages.

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