Rallye

Toby Price and Red Bull KTM team ready to defend Dakar crown

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Australian Toby Price is physically fit and keen to get his title defence off to a strong start on Sunday. Photo: Rally Zone
The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team of Toby Price, Matthias Walkner, Sam Sunderland and Luciano Benavides have arrived safely in Saudi Arabia ahead of this year‰Ûªs Dakar Rally.

Joined by KTM Factory Racing‰Ûªs Mario Patrao, the five-man team have successfully completed their shakedown tests ahead of Sunday‰Ûªs opening stage.

Proudly riding with the Dakar number-one plate, Toby Price is physically fit and keen to get his title defence off to a strong start on Sunday. The Aussie star is feeling confident but knows the magnitude of the task ahead of both himself and his teammates.
Toby Price will carry the number one plate in the 2020 Dakar. Photo: Rally Zone
‰ÛÏIf what we saw yesterday in the shakedown is anything to go by, the terrain is going to be quite different to what we have raced before," Price said. "The sand was really soft and will make for some really tough stages. I‰Ûªm hoping for some faster, hard-packed pistes too, but you can never really know what to expect. The bike is great ‰ÛÒ my mechanic and the whole team have done an amazing job as usual. I‰Ûªm excited to see what the rally brings and looking forward to getting started.‰Û
2019 runner up Matthias Walkner is almost 100% fit after suffering an injury and will be looking to go one better in 2020. Photo: Rally Zone
Second to Price at the 2019 Dakar Rally, Matthias Walkner also spent the majority of last year recovering from injury. Now close to being 100 percent, the Austrian rider is looking forward to getting started and hopes to secure his second Dakar title at the end of the tough 12-stage event.

‰ÛÏIt‰Ûªs been good to get a taste for the terrain here," Walkner said. "The shakedown test went really well ‰ÛÒ there was a good mixture of rocky tracks in the mountains with softer dunes at the base of the hills. From what we have seen so far, the land looks really nice. I think the event is going to be very tough, but it‰Ûªs a new year, a new challenge and I‰Ûªll go out there and do my best.‰Û
After claiming the 2019 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion Brit Sam Sunderland is in top form. Photo: Rally Zone
Reigning 2019 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion Sam Sunderland comes into the 2020 Dakar on form and hoping to carry his winning momentum to the dunes of Saudi Arabia. A former resident of Dubai, Sam is an experienced sand specialist and will also be aiming to secure a second win at the iconic race.

‰ÛÏIt‰Ûªs always good to get out on the bike and tune yourself in. The area we used was not so big and I think it won‰Ûªt be a real indication of the terrain we‰Ûªll face over the course of the race," Sunderland said. "Everything went well though and things are good here in Saudi. These days before the race always seem to drag on ‰ÛÒ you‰Ûªve been working so hard on the lead up to the event and now you just want to get started. Everything is packed up and ready now, we just have to complete the admin side and then we‰Ûªre off. It‰Ûªs looking like it‰Ûªs going to be a tough one though and I‰Ûªd say there will be quite a high rate of attrition. The 12 long stages are going to be a real challenge, but the goal is the same as always ‰ÛÒ making it safely to the finish is the priority and hopefully if everything goes well, we‰Ûªll be somewhere near the front.‰Û
With another year‰Ûªs experience under his belt the FIM Junior World Champion Luciano Benavides is focused on a strong finish in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Rally Zone
This year‰Ûªs race marks the third Dakar Rally for Luciano Benavides. Crashing out in 2018, the young Argentinian went on to claim a top-10 finish at the 2019 event. With another year‰Ûªs experience under his belt the FIM Junior World Champion is focused on a strong finish in Saudi Arabia.

‰ÛÏI‰Ûªm really excited to be here for this new-look Dakar," Benavides enthused. "The country is very different here ‰ÛÒ the culture, the people, the food. The shakedown test went well, but the terrain we saw was different to anything I have ever ridden on before, especially compared to back home in Argentina. The sand and dunes are so soft here and it‰Ûªs really easy to get caught out and have a crash because it‰Ûªs difficult to tell which parts are soft and which parts are harder. I think in the race, things will be different and we‰Ûªll be able to push a little harder, but it‰Ûªs definitely going to be a new experience for all of us.‰Û
Joining the team once again for the Dakar Rally, KTM Factory Racing‰Ûªs Mario Patrao is hoping for a strong result at this 42nd running of the race, while also providing an invaluable support role to his teammates on what looks to be one of the toughest editions yet. Photo: Rally Zone

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