Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Toby Price has won the 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship with victory at the final round of the season – the Rally du Maroc.
With victory at the last round of the 2018 Cross-Country Rallies World Championship in Morocco, former Dakar winner Toby Price overtook 2017 champion Pablo Quintanilla to take his and Australia's first ever world title.
“What an amazing season – I can’t believe it.” Said Price at the Morocco Rally finish. “It’s been a tough one and I didn’t expect to be at the top of the list at the end of it. I had some bad luck back in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of the year, but after that every rally has gone well and I’ve finished on the podium at every round.
“To win the world championship with a win here in Morocco makes it all that little bit sweeter. If I am honest, I was nervous out there on the final stage today, there are no guarantees in rally racing, especially when I had to lead the stage out. This is my first world championship in any category, so I am so, so happy.
“It’s all credit to my team and everyone at Red Bull KTM, without them behind me I wouldn’t be standing on the top step. I’m standing on the top of the world and it’s the best feeling ever.”
Price began the Rally du Maroc clearly in determined mood. Taking opening Prologue in tricky conditions set him up for the strong week in which he took two of the five stages but was never off the leader board. Price secured the overall win in Morocco ahead of his teammate Mathias Walkner with a comfortable margin of over seven minutes.
Nearest title rival Pablo Quintanilla, entered the Morocco rally with the points lead and seemingly the championship in his grasp. Quintanilla only needed to finish behind Price to reclaim the title but had a tougher than usual week before eventually climing to fourth place overall. Price leapfrogged from an eight-point deficit to the Chilean rider in the standings to claim the championship by a six-point margin.
Toby's journey to the 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship title has not been an easy one. A crash at the 2017 Dakar Rally forced him to retire early from the event with Price subsequently spending much of the year recovering from the broken femur he sustained. Returning to competition at the 2018 Dakar last January, Price impressed with his outright speed, ultimately taking two stage wins and finishing in third position overall.
Riding with great consistency throughout the 2018 season has paid off for Price. Multiple stage wins as well as podiums at the Atacama Rally and Desafio Ruta 40, added to his win in Morocco, have resulted in the 31-year-old becoming a worthy 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion.
Jordi Viladoms – KTM Rally Sport Manager: “Winning the rally world championship is a great result for Toby and KTM. Last year was really tough with the injury to his leg. He wasn’t even fully fit when he arrived at the Dakar at the beginning of this year but he did an amazing job and took third position. This was already a great success considering what he had been through.
“As the 2018 season has progressed, Toby has shown more speed, more confidence and all his hard work has paid off by dominating this race and winning the championship here in Morocco. We are really happy for him and he deserves this title. We still have some time to improve even further and hope to arrive at Dakar even stronger.”
The next competitive outing for the new World Champion Price and the major rally players will be the 2019 Dakar in Peru, starting January 6, 2019.
Provisional Standings – 2018 Rally du Maroc after 5 of 5 stages
- Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 16:08:37
- Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 16:16:09 +7:32
- Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 16:25:12 +16:35
- Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, 16:43:29 +34:52
- Paulo Goncalves (PRT), Honda, 16:56:51 +48:14
Final Standings – 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship
- Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 91 points
- Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 85pts
- Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 75pts
- Paulo Goncalves (POR), Honda, 70pts
- Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 56pts
Jon PearsonEnduro21 Editor and Bike Testerjon.firstname.lastname@example.org