Toby Price has become the first Australian winner in Dakar Rally history after claiming an emphatic victory in the motorbike category.
The 28-year-old from the NSW Hunter Valley finished 39 minutes 41 seconds in front of his nearest rival after extending his lead with fourth in the 13th and final stage to Rosario in Argentina.
“I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to think … I’m in shock, I never would’ve thought I could win this race in my second participation,” said Price after the 180km stage.
“This is incredible for my family, my friends and my fans back in Australia. Winning in my second participation is awesome, but being the first Australian to win the Dakar is just insane.
“I would’ve never imagined this two years ago.”
He established himself as a star of the future after finishing third on debut last year, the equal best result for an Australian, and was signed to the Red Bull KTM team.
Price dominated the gruelling event, taking out five stages on his way to a historic win.
“Finishing the rally is already a triumph, winning it is amazing,” he said.
“I tackled the race in true Aussie style. I attacked when I had to, when the time was right, and I kept an eye on my bike during the all-important marathon stages.”
Meanwhile, French veteran Stephane Peterhansel took out his sixth victory in the car category after six wins on a motorcycle.
The 50-year-old beat Qatar’s 2015 winner Nasser Al-Attiyah by 34 minutes and 58 seconds to secure Peugeot’s first victory in the endurance event since Ari Vatanen won in 1990.
“Some of my wins count more than others, but this one’s definitely in the top three,” said Peterhansel.
“It’s too early to think about the future. One thing’s for sure, getting the same number of victories on a bike and in a car was the last big goal in my career. Now that it’s done, I don’t think there are many things left to motivate me.”
The victory will remain provisional, however, pending an appeal by the rival X-raid team who have argued that Peterhansel illegally refuelled midway through an earlier stage of the 38th edition of the event.