Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price has placed fourth on the final stage of the 2023 Desafio Ruta 40. After a tough start to the event, where a technical issue cost Price around an hour on his rivals, the two-time Dakar winner fought back to ultimately finish in ninth overall and earn himself nine valuable FIM World Rally-Raid Championship points.
The final day of the Desafio Ruta 40 led riders from Belen to the finish at Salta. Totaling 563 kilometers, the stage included a 258-kilometer timed special predominantly made up of fast, WRC-style tracks and climbed to an altitude of 2,500 meters.
Setting off as the fifth competitor into the special, Toby trailed the early leader by just one second at kilometer 42. Keeping his head down and pushing hard on the rocky tracks, the Australian soon opened up an advantage on his rivals, which he further increased all the way to the finish to post the fastest stage time by just under two minutes. However, a six-minute penalty awarded after returning to the bivouac unfortunately dropped the two-time Dakar winner down to fourth.
Despite completing the event strongly, the Desafio Ruta 40 was a frustrating one for Toby. The issue he suffered early on cost him around one hour to the front runners, and although the experienced racer was able to climb back up the leaderboard, he had to settle for ninth overall at the finish, adding nine championship points to his tally. The result drops Toby to second in the series standings where he trails the new leader by nine points.
Toby Price: “Yeah, I’m happy to get through the race all in one piece, but that day two really knocked us back. Unfortunately, it’s probably wrecked the championship for us too. It is what it is, so you just have to swallow it and move on to the next round. Obviously, there’s still a chance and you can be sure I’ll be giving everything in Morocco, but for now it’s frustrating.”
Matthias Walkner, who stepped in to assist his teammate on stage two, was subsequently forced to withdraw from the event due to FIM regulations. The Austrian star will be back in action at round five of the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship, the Rallye du Maroc, in mid-October.
Provisional Results – 2023 Desafio Ruta 40, Stage 5
1. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 2:39:44
2. Ross Branch (BWA), Hero, 2:40:42 +0:58
3. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 2:41:23 +1:39
4. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 2:42:43 +2:59
5. Bradley Cox (ZAF), KTM, 2:43:19 +3:35
Provisional Standings – 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 (after 5 of 5 stages)
1. Tosha Schareina (ESP), Honda, 15:58:46
2. Luciano Benavides (ARG), Husqvarna, 16:10:22 +11:36
3. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 16:20:02 +21:16
4. Ross Branch (BWA), Hero, 16:25:31 +26:45
5. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 16:27:38 +28:52
9. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 17:24:00 +1:25:14
Provisional Standings 2023 FIM World Rally-Raid Championship (after 4 of 5 rounds)
1. Luciano Benavides (ARG), Husqvarna, 80 points
2. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 71 pts
3. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 66 pts
4. Ross Branch (BWA), Hero, 45 pts
5. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 43 pts
12. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 13 pts