Dakar Champion Toby Price will suit up for the biggest gamble of his career when he takes on the 41st running of the legendary Finke Desert Race this coming Queens Birthday weekend.
The first challenge will be to take his hat-trick after victory in 2014 and 2015; the second being to match Alice Springs hero Randall Gregory’s long standing record of five victories.
Not content with the prospect of holding out 600 two wheeled challengers – including identically mounted KTM team-mate Tye Simmonds and 2013 winner Todd Smith – on arrival at Finke, Price will then change his jocks on a quick chopper flight back to Alice before taking on all comers in the Auto Division. At the ready will be a custom built, ARB sponsored Trophy Truck. The following day he’ll reverse the procedure, effectively competing against himself for the title ‘King of the Desert’.
A decade has passed since local Alice Springs rider Jason Hill made an unsuccessful attempt to compete in both divisions. Over that time the Finke has evolved into the fastest and, some say, most dangerous desert race on the planet; with in excess of 20,000 revellers lining the 230km course to view the carnage.
It wasn’t until 1999 that a four wheeler won Finke, the motos fought back but inevitably lost out to 6 litre V8 power and 600mm suspension travel. Price has already tasted success on street circuits in the Stadium Super Truck Series but had yet to determine the limits of the Geiser Brothers built Trophy Truck. Having built back-to-back Baja 1000 winners the Geiser Bros. unit should survive the massive whoops of the Finke course and Price is confident of his ability despite still recovering from a back injury. “I’ve just got back from pre-running the course, we’ve a similar setup on the bike (KTM 500 EXC) to last year and it feels comfortable. My back has been good though I still have a little pain but nothing is getting worse, that’s the main thing.” However Price has doubled his chances of a DNF in this gruelling test of man and machine.
With his next World Cross Country Championship commitment not until August KTM have let Price loose tackle both Finke and Hattah here at home and we can only hope the truck ride doesn’t aggravate his back injury. But Price cannot resist the challenge. “I want to do Finke in both categories while I’m fairly young and if anyone had the chance to do what I’m doing I’m sure they’d jump on it as well.” Too right!
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