Toby Price has become the first Australian to win any category of the gruelling Dakar Rally, taking out the motorcycle division in this year’s race just three years after a broken neck threatened his future in the sport.
The 28-year-old from Newcastle dominated the contest, finishing 39 minutes, 41 seconds ahead of Slovakian KTM team-mate Stefan Svitko.
He finished fourth in the 180km final stage in Argentina to clinch the victory, a 15th Dakar win in a row for Austrian maker KTM.
French Dakar veteran Stephane Peterhansel claimed victory in the car section of the contest for the sixth time since 2004, equalling his tally of six motorcycle wins.
Price’s father John Price told ABC on Sunday that his son’s triumph had come despite serious setbacks.
“In 2013 he broke his neck competing over in America, where you sort of think ‘his lifelong dream is over’ – to come back with the sheer guts and determination that he has, he got himself back riding but not racing only six months after the surgery on his neck,” Price’s father said.
“[Toby] just worked and worked that hard just to get himself back so he could continue his dream.”
Price said he had spoken to his son in Argentina earlier in the day.
“We were just keeping track of it knowing that Toby had a reasonable lead leading into the last stage but being the Dakar as it is, anything can happen.”
“You just hope and pray it all goes well and he has a good run, which he did.
“It’s great, we’re blown away. We cracked a bottle of champers when we heard the result at about 1:30am.
“We were pretty wrapped with the way it all went down, we couldn’t go to sleep after that.”
Winner stunned by runaway success
Earlier, the stunned motorcyclist was still coming to terms with his triumph after the race.
“Being the first Australian to win the Dakar is just insane,” Price said.
“I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to think… I’m in shock, I never would’ve thought I could win this race in my second participation.
“This is incredible for my family, my friends and my fans back in Australia!”
Price started racing when he was four years of age, and it had always been his dream to be the best in the world.
Now that dream is a reality.