Australia’s Toby Price has overcome a broken wrist to secure victory in a dramatic Dakar Rally final stage to hoist his second motorcycle title in Lima.
Price came into the race under a significant injury cloud, having broken the scaphoid bone in his right wrist just weeks prior to the flag going down in Peru, and believed he would only be able to endure two stages of racing.
The Australian held only a minute’s lead over Chilean rival Pablo Quintanilla heading into the 10th and final stage, after racing almost 5200 kilometres.
Then just 10km into the dune-heavy, 112km course from Pisco to Lima, Quintanilla, Price fell off his bike and injured his foot, losing 19 minutes to drop to fourth overall.
Price, who previously won the Dakar Rally in 2016, claimed the stage win – his first of this year’s race.
— DAKAR RALLY (@dakar) January 17, 2019
“It’s very crazy to sit here and say that we won the Dakar Rally with no stage victories until today. It’s really crazy. I’m over the moon,” Price said after 10 agonising days of being jolted and bumped across the dunes and desert.
“It’s not very comfortable, it’s not very enjoyable. Now I’ll just wait and see what damage I’ve done to my wrist.
“Pretty much all I can say is that it feels like there are about five people driving a knife in my wrist.”
“At the end of the day, the pain and torture has been worth it.
Price also finished third in 2015 and 2018.
Defending champion Matthias Walkner – who started the stage only six minutes behind overall – threatened early but faded on the stage and arrived two minutes behind in third.
That was enough for the Austrian to finish second overall, nine minutes behind, with Sam Sunderland in third, 13 minutes down.
Sunderland was penalised an hour before the stage on Wednesday for deliberately causing an electrical fault in his navigation tracker on Tuesday so he would not have to open the way, but the Briton won his appeal to finish only his second Dakar in six attempts. The other was when he won the title in 2017.
The top three riders rode KTMs, which won an 18th successive motorbike class.
Al-Attiyah regains Dakar crown
Nasser Al-Attiyah won his third Dakar Rally crown in the car division, taking a 51-minute lead into the final stage. He let others race for the stage win, which went to Carlos Sainz, last year’s champion.
Al-Attiyah rolled in nine minutes later in his Toyota, and won the Dakar by 46 minutes from Nani Roma, the 2014 champion.
Runner-up to Sainz last year, Al-Attiyah regained the title he earned in 2011 and 2015, when the Qatari also won with French co-driver Mathieu Baumel.
“It’s fantastic, no mistakes,” Al-Attiyah said.
“The good thing was that from day three we were leading and we built on our time every day until we came to the last day with a big, big lead. We felt that a 100 per cent Peru rally, with no other country, there would be a lot of sand dunes, so we could do what we know we’re good at.”
Roma — who won two motorbike titles before switching to four wheels in 2005 — was second after a busier-than-usual year of rallying to rebound from crashing out early in the Dakar last year.
Nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb — who was in title contention until electrical problems on Monday — was third at his fourth Dakar.