Queenslander Toby Price has navigated his Factory KTM for the Stage 1 victory in the 2012 Dakar, Jeddah to Bisha Saudi Arabia, 03 January 2021.
Stage 1: 622km in the saddle for the motorcycle athletes, which includes 277 of special sections, six checkpoints, an average of 1200 metres above sea level with most of the terrain Stable Sand or Tere Soil with minimal Cailoux Stones which could be a flat tyre area.
Being the ninth athlete to start, Toby Price finished the Stage 3 hours 18 minutes and 26 seconds winning the Stage by 31 seconds, an achievement with a navigational error near the end of the special section. Argentinian Kevin Benavides (3:18:57) was second, and Austrian Matthias Walkner (3:18:58) thrid.
“It’s just the first Stage, so today [was] quite difficult with the navigation. I got lost a little bit about 7 kilometres from the finish. I took a little bit of time just trying to get back on track here. It’s been a good, clean day for us. I think you’re gonna see a lot of chopping and changing in the standings in this race. You just gotta stay calm and let it cruise along and make it work.” Stated Price.
Victorian Daniel Sanders was third to start the Stage due to his impressive Prologue. The Rookie finished twenty-fifth for Stage 1 in a year of learning opportunities.
“It was really cool to start off third after the Prologue yesterday. I saw the Honda guys turn left on this point… I wasn’t too sure because it’s my first year, not much navigation, but I should’ve followed my instincts…” Stated Sanders.
There aren’t many opportunities in Australia to learn and practice navigation in a racing environment. Navigation is a weakness that Sanders is aware of, and the longer he is in the saddle, the better he will be.
Victorian Rookie Michael Burgess completed Stage 1 in thirty-third position with a journey of 3 hours 56 minutes and 45 seconds.
New South Welshman Andrew Houlihan has recovered well after his navigation equipment issues during Prologue which caused a 5-minute penalty, and the Rookie finished 68th for the Stage (5 hours 25 minutes and 27 seconds).
Possible withdrawal from the bikes, ‘another crushing blow for Willy Jobard, who seems poised to withdraw from the Dakar for the fifth year in a row. The veteran biker, who was racing on a hybrid hydrogen-powered motorbike, will have to call it quits after hurting his left hip in a crash after 93 kilometres.’ One Hundred and One two-wheeled bikes started the 2021 Dakar.