Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price has claimed an impressive third-place finish at the close of a very demanding 2020 Dakar Rally. Held in Saudi Arabia for the first time, the 42nd edition of the event saw many challenges for all competitors. Successfully completing the rally, Matthias Walkner claimed fifth with Luciano Benavides securing his best ever Dakar result in sixth.
Lying third overall going into the 447-kilometer 12th and final stage of the event it was always going to be a huge ask for Toby Price to make up the necessary time on the race leader. The 2019 champion didn’t give up, giving his all on the final 374-kilometer timed special, ultimately posting the third-fastest time.
Claiming two stage wins during the course of the event, the outgoing champion has shown incredible pace, resolve and compassion to bring his KTM 450 RALLY home safely and inside the top three.
Toby Price: “I’m really happy with another podium at the Dakar – every time I’ve made it to the finish at this event I’ve got onto the podium. So far, I’m either a number one or a number three guy. The most important thing is to be here safely at the finish. Obviously, we came here to win, but it just wasn’t our year. Yeah, after 18 wins in a row it would have been nice to get a 19th, but I think KTM’s winning streak won’t be topped for a very long time. We’ll go away now, regroup and come back stronger for 2021 and take that number one plate back.”
The majority of Matthias Walkner’s 2019 season was spent recovering from injury, with the Austrian working hard to arrive at this year’s Dakar fit and strong and ready to take on the new chapter in the event’s history. Showing great pace throughout the event, Matthias’ consistency paid off, claiming four top-three stage results on his way to securing fifth overall. Happy with his result on what has been an extremely demanding event, the 2018 Dakar Champion is now aiming to be back stronger than ever next year.
Matthias Walkner: “Firstly, it feels really good to cross the finish line, especially after such a fast Dakar in a new country. For sure, I’m not so happy with my result as my goal was to reach the podium. I know I made some mistakes in the first week where I lost some time, and it was very difficult to make that back up – especially as so many riders were competitive this year. The good thing is, I felt good with my speed and my navigation for most of the rally. Unfortunately, even with 11 good days, one bad day can spoil your race in rallying. Overall, I’m happy because I know I did my best and the team and the bike have been perfect.”
Luciano Benavides put in another strong ride on the final stage of the event to place fourth and move himself one place higher in the overall standings to sixth. In what has easily been his best Dakar to date, the young Argentinian’s run of consistency was impressive – only once finishing outside the top eight over the entire event. By focusing on his navigation where necessary and knowing when it was safe to push, Luciano demonstrated great maturity and skill and now looks forward to the remainder of the 2020 season and his return to Dakar early in 2021.
Luciano Benavides: “It’s been a really tough Dakar and a very crazy race with lots of ups and downs. Overall, I have really enjoyed it and I’m happy to be here at the finish line. I knew this year would be a big challenge and would be a new experience for everyone, so my plan was to take it day by day and the main goal was always just to finish safely. I’m very happy with my pace, I have learnt so much and was able to really use that knowledge at this year’s event. So many riders were competitive, with times very close on a lot of the stages, so to come away with sixth overall is great. I’m really looking forward to the coming season now.”
Jordi Viladoms – KTM Rally Team Manager: “Obviously, we didn’t get the result here in Saudi Arabia we were hoping for, but if we are going to take one positive from this it’s that it will give us more energy over the coming season to improve and come back even stronger. I am incredibly proud of the whole KTM team – it has been a tough two weeks here for all members, but we have worked hard and secured some excellent results. The Dakar is a long race and as we have seen in the past anything can happen. The second week started terribly for everyone after losing Paulo, but despite the setbacks, everyone battled through to the end – no one more so than Toby. He has maintained his focus and has come out of it on the podium. It was always going to be hard to keep up our winning streak at such a tough event, but we accept the result, congratulate the winners and promise that we’ll be back even stronger next year.”