Reigning Dakar Champion Toby Price set the fastest time on day one of the 2020 rally despite a broken road book and a looming penalty.
The opening day of the rally presented riders with a huge challenge right from the start. Comprising 433 kilometres of liaison and a 319-kilometre timed special, the gruelling route led competitors north from Jeddah along the Red Sea coast to Al Wajh.
With a mixture of fast, rocky pistes and soft sand dunes, the first day of racing in Saudi Arabia gave the riders a taste of what is to come in this new chapter of the Dakar.
Carrying the number one plate, Price had the advantageous position of being the 23rd rider to enter the day’s stage. The Aussie star immediately pushed hard from the start, posting the second fastest time to the first waypoint.
A small issue with his navigation equipment looked set to reduce Price’s pace with a seized road book making navigation difficult. Thankfully he was able to tag on to the back of teammate Walkner and the pair brought their KTM 450 RALLY machines home safely and in good time, with Price fastest overall.
“It went well. It was a hard day, but it went well. My road book walked out on me after 15-odd kilometres, so it was strange. I was quite lucky in one way because I managed to follow on some dust and just keep up with the guys,” said the Red Bull KTM rider.
“Once the road book is gone, then you’re pretty much driving blind. At the moment it looks good on paper, but I think we have a bit of a penalty coming. It’s not the greatest start, but it’s still a long rally to go. We’re in good shape, we feel good on the bike and we’re happy.”