A New Dakar Legend Emerges
This year again the Dakar lived up to being the toughest race in the world with half of the 168 bikes entered not finishing. Grit, determination, experience and skill in the face of adversity are standard requirements just to complete this gruelling race.
The are lots of stories that come out of the Dakar but one riders story stands out in 2015 and will become the stuff of legend.
In a race won by 38-year-old KTM Spanish legend Marc Coma, taking his fifth Dakar victor, enter Dakar 2015 3rd place finisher and stage winner, Aussie rookie Toby Price.
Toby Price’s Dakar challenge began in earnest in April 2013.
While competing in the AMA Hare and Hound, Toby crashed and was slammed in the ground. Ask most racers what their biggest nightmare is and the answer will be a spinal injury. Toby Price had just broken his neck. The 27-year-old broke his C6, C7 and T1 vertebrae, leaving him precariously close to becoming a paraplegic. Two days later the uninsured Price was told to leave the US hospital as he could not come up with the $500k for the necessary surgery.
Toby, with little choice, took a massive risk leaving the hospital in a halo brace and flew 14-hours back to Australia for his operation. On Anzac Day Toby had two rods and eight screws fused into his vertebrae at a Brisbane Private Hospital. After seven months of unimaginable physical and mental rehabilitation, Toby was back to full training albeit $80k out of pocket. Another significant factor in this remarkable story is that Toby was not in a full factory team, something that will certainly be remedied for Dakar 2016.
Three Australian Off-Road Championship wins, three Hattah Desert Race titles and two Finke Desert Race victories prove that Toby Price is fast. But it takes more than speed to win a Dakar. Navigation skills, mechanical sympathy and mental toughness are key aspects. Before the Dakar Toby had completed just one navigation event. At the Rally of Morocco last October he finished with a stage podium and eighth overall.
Not surprisingly, Toby had plenty of navigational issues in the 2015 Dakar; regularly stopping in the early stages to double check his route.
Speed, grit, determination and ticker, Toby Price has these in abundance. Add navigation experience plus a factory team and you can only imagine where Toby will finish in Dakar 2016.
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