Despite starting 14th due to his position in the 2017 World Championship, Australian Toby Price has charged into the lead of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. After kicking off with a demonstration opening stage around the famous Yas Marina road circuit, the second and first timed stage covered 418.38kms.
The first half of the stage proved to be faster and harder on tyres than anticipated and Price and his the two KTM teammates were forced to swap wheels at the refuelling stop. The following half of the stage was made up of the soft sand characteristic of the area and the trio were able to push much harder and ultimately claim the top three positions on the day.
Not having tested with the rest of the team in Morocco, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge marks the first time back on a KTM 450 RALLY since the Dakar for Toby Price. Starting further down the field, the Australian was able to maximise the advantage and eventually crossed the finish with a time close to three-minutes ahead of team-mate Sunderland.
Toby Price: “The day was really good today. We had a little issue with the fast hard-packed piste at the beginning of the stage, the tyres got really warm and we had to change them at the fuel stop. After that it was just sand and then more sand. The bike performed perfectly, the team have done an excellent job preparing it for me, it’s handling beautifully in the dunes. I’m feeling comfortable even though it’s my first time back on a rally bike since Dakar. I’m looking forward to tomorrow now and seeing what the rest of the rally will bring.”
Prices team mates, Sam Sunderland and Matthias Walkner finished second and third.
1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 3:13:00
2. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 3:15:51 +2:51
3. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 3:20:20 +7:20
4. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 3:22:36 +9:36
5. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 3:23:42 +10:42