Toby Price Sixth overall in Merzouga Rally | News
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price has brought his KTM 450 RALLY home in third place on the final stage of the 2018 Merzouga Rally.
Suffering a small crash during the timed special, Laia Sanz finished a very creditable 30th. At the close of the six-day event in Morocco, Price finished sixth overall with Sanz placing 14th.
The fifth and final stage of the Merzouga Rally comprised a short 50km timed special through the dunes of the Chebbi erg. With 80 riders setting off together motocross style it took a few kilometres for the pack to spread out. Despite being shorter than the others on the rally, stage five still threw up some challenges.
Unhappy after the decision by the organisers of the rally to scrap the final waypoints of Thursday’s stage four, Toby Price went into today’s special with a point to prove. After making his way to the front of the group, the Australian put in a strong performance to eventually cross the line in third position.
The decision to disregard the final waypoints of the stage relegated Toby to sixth place in the overall standings. Despite his superb performance on the final stage, it simply wasn’t enough to regain a podium position. Although disappointed, the 2016 Dakar Champion was still positive about his, and the team’s, performance on the rally.
Toby Price: “Today was a good stage with the mass-start. 80 bikes taking off at the same time is a little bit chaotic and it took a few kilometres for it all to settle down. It was really good fun and I enjoyed the ride. I’m still a little upset about the outcome of yesterday’s stage and I don’t believe the final results tell the true story of the rally. Nevertheless, I am here in one piece and we were able to test a lot of things on the bike and get some good training for the Dakar at the beginning of next year. I’m looking forward to the next rally now in the middle of the year and then we have a few more to contest on the run up to the Dakar.”
Laia Sanz also suffered from Stage 4 decision. The Spaniard had ridden an almost flawless stage finishing as fifth fastest. By scrapping the final waypoints, Laia was relegated to 14th at the end of the day. Relishing the chance to race with the front runners on today’s short sprint Laia set off well, keeping up with the leaders. Unfortunately, a small crash ended up costing the multiple enduro world champion even more time when another rider collided with her fallen bike. Crossing the line in 30th position, Laia was still upbeat about her performance.
Laia Sanz: “I enjoyed today at first, it was good fun to race with everyone. I thought if I could tag on to some of the faster guys I would be able to keep to their pace. I made a small mistake on one of the dunes but ended up losing more time when a rider behind collided with me when I was picking up the bike – I wasn’t able to catch up after that. The rally has not been so good for me, my results have not been quite what I wanted for various reasons. On the plus side we were able to do a lot of constructive testing and we’ll go into the next rally even stronger now.”
The next rally to be contested by the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team will be the Atacama Rally held in Chile from August 11-19.
Provisional Results Stage Five – 2018 Merzouga Rally
1. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, 38:12
2. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 38:15 +3 seconds
3. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 38:18 +6 secs
4. Lorenzo Santolino (ESP), Sherco, 38:36 +24 secs
5. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 38:38 +26 secs
29. Laia Sanz (ESP), KTM, 44:54 +6:42
Provisional Final Standings – 2018 Merzouga Rally after 5 of 5 stages
1. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 13:28:19
2. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 13:34:29 +6:10
3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, 13:39:44 +11:25
4. Franco Caimi (ARG), Yamaha, 13:47:08 +18:49
5. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 13:48:23 +20:04
6. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 13:49:23 +21:04
14. Laia Sanz (ESP), KTM, 15:23:19 +1:55:00