Rallye

Toby Price has declared himself ready for the 2023 Dakar Rally.

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Photo of 2023 Dakar Rally rider Toby Price
With five podiums and two wins, Australian Toby Price is looking to make it three Dakar wins in 2023. Photo: Sebas Romero

With less than one month to go before the start of the 2023 Dakar Rally, Toby Price and teammates, Matthias Walkner and Kevin Benavides will soon complete their final preparations before heading to Saudi Arabia to compete in the 14-stage event, which starts on December 31.

Toby Price, a duel winner of the iconic event, endured a tough 2022 season that saw his massive potential knocked by a road book issue at the Dakar, followed by a crash in Morocco later in the year, which forced him to withdraw from the Rallye du Maroc while fighting for the win. However, the experienced Australian knows that anything can happen in rally and has already put his difficult year behind him to focus on the Dakar. Happy with the development carried out to his machine over the summer’s testing, and confident that the navigation-focused 2023 Dakar will suit his skillset, Toby is fired-up to attack the formidable event.

Photo of 2023 Dakar Rally rider Toby Price
Photo: Sebas Romero

“The 2022 Dakar didn’t quite go as planned for me,” Price reflected. “I had an issue right at the beginning on day one with one note in the road book, and that made it really tough to get back in contention with the front runners for the rest of the event. I know my pace was there, but rally can be tough and sometimes things just don’t go your way. We had a big gap in the middle of the year and put that to good use testing with the team. I felt great going into the Rallye du Maroc and my pace there was good, it’s just unfortunate a crash put an end to my race. We’ve got some more testing to do now in December ahead of a short break over Christmas, but then it’s straight back to it at the end of the year. I’ve had five podiums at the Dakar, and I know I have the pace to win – everything just needs to come together and I’m sure I can be up there fighting for another title.”

Photo of 2023 Dakar Rally rider Matthias Walkner
Matthias Walkner is almost 100% fit after recent shoulder surgery and will be gunning for his second Dakar win. Photo: Sebas Romero

Matthias Walkner returns to rally competition for the first time since the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, where he matched his Dakar result of third place. The Austrian rider then underwent much-needed surgery on a shoulder injury that had been plaguing him for some time. Now, close to 100% fit, the 2018 Dakar winner will be aiming to secure a second title at the world’s toughest cross-country rally.

“I’m really excited to take on my next Dakar Rally,” Walkner enthused. “It’s always a massive event for us and it’s the one you always want to win. With so many days racing, over so many kilometers, it’s definitely the toughest race on the calendar. It sounds like the organizers have planned an especially tough route for 2023, and with a few rule changes thrown in, I think the race will present a massive challenge. I’m still coming off a year where I missed a lot of races after receiving surgery to my shoulder, so hopefully I don’t get any issues there. But of course the goal is to win. I know I have an amazing team around me, and the bike is working really well right now – all the testing and development has really come together. The Dakar always throws up a few surprises, but I feel I’m super prepared for this one and I’m looking forward to getting started.”

Photo of 2023 Dakar Rally rider Kevin Benavides
Kevin Benavides goes into his second Dakar with the Red Bull KTM. Photo: Sebas Romero

Looking forward to racing his second Dakar Rally with Red Bull KTM, Kevin Benavides is also focused on rewarding all the hard work put in by the team with a win. The Argentinian has enjoyed a solid 2022 season with podium results in Chile and at the final world championship round in Spain. With another year of experience gained racing the KTM 450 RALLY, Benavides feels comfortable on the bike and with the team and heads to Saudi Arabia confident and highly motivated for success.

“2022 has been really good for me and I’m excited to carry this feeling into the 2023 Dakar. Although my final result wasn’t great at the 2022 race, I know I had the speed to do better,” Benavides said. “Abu Dhabi was also tough with a technical issue near the end, but again I was well inside the top three on pace. After spending the summer testing with the team, we made a lot of changes to the bike, and they paid off with a podium at the Atacama Rally and a strong result in Morocco. Finishing as runner-up at the final round of the year was great and really helped to build my confidence ahead of 2023. I’ve been doing a lot of work with my trainer throughout the year and feel prepared both physically and mentally ahead of such a long Dakar. I’m looking forward to it and can hopefully secure another podium result for myself and the team.”

The 2023 Dakar Rally kicks off on December 31st, 2022.

Photo of 2023 Dakar Rally rider Toby Price
Photo: Sebas Romero

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