Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price has delivered an outstanding ride on the fifth and final day of the 2023 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, taking the stage win to secure himself a third-place overall result. His hard-fought podium finish moves the Australian into the lead of the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship standings.
After opening the stage on day four, through the toughest conditions seen at this year’s race, Toby Price came into the final day of the ADDC lying sixth overall and with a seventh-place start position. The two-time Dakar Champion had no option but to use the tracks left in the sand ahead of him to push as hard as he could and try to make up the maximum time on his rivals over the 206-kilometer timed special. And that’s exactly what he did!
Leading on time for the entire stage, Price steadily increased his advantage over the field to ultimately finish close to two and a half minutes ahead of the second-placed rider, Jose Ignacio Cornejo. That gap was crucial as it was Cornejo who Price edged out of podium contention by a mere two seconds after well over 17 hours of racing.
Toby’s podium result at round two, added to his runner-up finish at the Dakar Rally, move him into the lead of the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship standings. However, with three rounds left to contest, there’s still a long way to go, starting with round three, the Sonora Rally in Mexico, from April 22-28.
Toby Price: “I had to push really hard today. Opening on the long day four really knocked me back in the overall such were the conditions. I knew my only choice today was to push hard, and so I went as hard as I could possibly go for the whole 206 kilometers! To only just make the podium by two seconds is crazy. It shows the level of the riders at the moment in rally, with the results often coming down to seconds and not minutes – I think that’s really good for the championship. Lastly, the bike and the whole team have been great here in Abu Dhabi, working so hard to give us the tools we need. There’s a little bit of a gap now but then it's on to Mexico for the next round.”
Norbert Stadlbauer – Rally Team Manager: “Toby did an incredible job today. We hoped for a podium, but also knew it would be a huge ask on this shorter, final stage. However, Toby put in an incredible ride to take third place by just two seconds – a true testament to his skill and speed. The race here in Abu Dhabi has been a big success with the whole team doing great work as always. We’re already looking forward to the next round.”
Provisional Results – Stage 5 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2023
1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 2:24:45
2. Ignacio Cornejo (CHI), Honda, 2:27:08 +2:23
3. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna, 2:27:14 +2:29
4. Ross Branch (BWA), Hero, 2:27:46 +3:01
5. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 2:28:07 +3:22
Provisional Standings – Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2023 after 5 of 5 stages
1. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 17:13:39
2. Luciano Benavides (ARG), Husqvarna, 17:17:57 +4:18
3. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 17:18:52 +5:13
4. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (CHI), Honda, 17:18:54 +5:15
5. Ross Branch (BWA), Hero, 17:19:56 +6:17
Provisional 2023 FIM World Rally-Raid Championship Standings after 2 rounds
1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 46
2. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 42
3. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 38
4. Luciano Benavides (ARG), Husqvarna, 35
5. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna, 34