Red Bull KTM’s Toby Price pulled it off today, reaching the finish line of the 2016 Dakar Rally in Rosario, Argentina to take the overall victory. Price rode to a modest finish in today’s final stage, with his fourth-place in Stage 13 more than enough to cinch the victory. This year was only Price’s second attempt in the Dakar Rally (he finished third overall in 2015), and he celebrated a commanding win with a margin of nearly 40 minutes over second place Stefan Svitko. Price’s Dakar victory marked the 15th for KTM but a first for an Australian.
“Winning in just my second participation is awesome, but being the first Australian to with the Dakar is just insane,” exclaimed Price. “I would’ve never imagined this two years ago. Finishing the rally is already a triumph. Winning it is amazing!”
Price collected a total of five stage wins in the 2016 Dakar Rally, which was fraught with intense weather conditions. Thunderstorms, severe downpours, raging rivers and washed out roads wreaked havoc on this year’s Dakar Rally, as well as intense heat, dusty high-speed sections and sky-scraping altitudes of over 15,000 feet.
“I tackled the race in true Aussie style,” Price said. “I attacked when I had to, when the time was right, and I kept an eye on my bike during the all-important marathon stages. I also navigated quite well. I hope this is just the start, to win again. It won’t be easy, so I’ve got to savor this victory.”
Red Bull KTM Rally Team Manager Alex Doringer gave special thanks to “an old friend” in celebrating the Dakar victory with Price.
“I could see Toby was a top guy with potential and good navigation skills,” Doringer said. “He did an amazing job and I am very happy for him. When I brought him into the team I was very happy to do something for my old friend Kurt Caselli. He was the one who encouraged me to try to get Toby to the Dakar and today we see the results.”
KTM rider Stefan Svitko collected a commendable second-place finish. The Slovakian rally specialist raced his first Dakar in 2010, and finished fifth overall in 2015. Svitko celebrated a stage win in Stage 10, and aside from a small setback in Stage 11, he was consistently in the top-three all the way to the finish.
The race for the final podium position was on today between Pablo Quintanilla, Kevin Benavides and Helder Rodrigues. Although Quintanilla held the advantage, the others were only four minutes behind, and committed to attacking on the final stage. The stage win went to Quintanilla, who secured third overall, but the battle was the toughest of the entire rally for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider.
“The last stage was extremely hard,” said Quintanilla. “There was a lot of tension and nerves before the start. The entire race came down to this one stage. I started fast and thanks to today and the team’s work we defended our third place. I’m delighted. The investment paid off today.”
Kevin Benavides collected fourth overall after finishing second in today’s final stage, and was the top-finishing Honda rider in the rally. The 2016 Dakar Rally marked Benavides’ first-ever attempt in the race, and he also became the first-ever Argentine to win a stage.
“It has been a really hard, difficult Dakar but I have been able to learn a lot from the race,” said Benavides. “I have arrived at Rosario, which is a dream, and in addition I was able to win a stage and be the top rookie in the Dakar. In spite of some mistakes I have learned a lot and I believe that for the next one I will do even better.”
Factory Yamaha’s Helder Rodrigues rounded out the top-five overall, and considering he was sick during the first week of the rally, and then popped his shoulder out in the second week, the Dakar veteran had a respectable finish, picking up a win in the toughest stage of the 2016 Rally.
Although Benavides was the top Honda in the rally, American rider Ricky Brabec was the top HRC rider, making for an exceptional Dakar Rally debut for the 24-year-old Californian. Hear what Brabec had to say upon finishing his first-ever Dakar Rally in the HRC video below.
“I’m really excited to finish my first Dakar,” Brabec commented. “I want to come back and do better. This is my third rally ever, so that is a huge accomplishment for me. Finishing in the top-10 in my first Dakar Rally is pretty good and I’m the only rider on the team to get a top-10.”
Brabec’s finish is even more impressive given the severe injury he had to overcome in 2015 – one that was not only life threatening, but that took him out of competition for much of the year.
“Back in June I had a broken neck and it took a good six months to heal,” Brabec explained. “I was talking to a doctor, eating some special foods and trying to get as much calcium and vitamins as I needed to get back to racing. This is my second race back and the biggest race in the world and I’m happy to have accomplished the goal and get a finish.”
American riders Iam Blythe, Alexander Smith and Scott Bright all also reached the finish in Rosario today. All three U.S. riders rode brilliantly, with consistent results and steady progress in the overall ranks. Blythe carded 26th place overall with Smith (son of off-road legend Malcolm Smith) finishing 37th. Scott Bright finished 53rd overall, out of 84 finishers in the bike category (136 riders started the 2016 Dakar Rally).
Dakar Rally Stage 13 Results:
- Pablo Quintanilla (Hus) 1:51:27
- Kevin Benavides (Hon) +1:41
- Helder Rodrigues (Yam) +2:37
- Toby Price (KTM) +4:22
- Stefan Svitko (KTM) +6:24
- Gerard Farres (KTM) +10:52
- Ivan Cervantes (KTM) +11:50
- Ricky Brabec (Hon) +12:43
- Adrien Van Beveren (Yam) +14:09
- Mario Patrao (KTM) +14:43
- Laia Sanz (KTM) +16:10
- Ian Blythe (KTM) +17:48
- Alexander Smith (Hus) +28:57
- Scott Bright (KTM) +32:43
- Antoine Meo (KTM) +48:19
Dakar Rally Final General Ranking:
- Toby Price (KTM) 48:09:15
- Stefan Svitko (KTM) +39:41
- Pablo Quintanilla (Hus) +48:48
- Kevin Benavides (Hon) +54:47
- Helder Rodrigues (Yam) +55:44
- Adrien Van Beveren (Yan) +1:46:29
- Antoine Meo (KTM) +1:56:47
- Gerard Farres (KTM) +2:01:00
- Ricky Brabec (Hon) +2:11:27
- Armand Monleon (KTM) +3:27:49
- Laia Sanz (KTM) +4:33:28
- Ian Blythe (KTM) +7:51:51
- Alexander Smith (Hus) +10:50:44
- Scott Bright (KTM) +16:28:14