JUST finishing the brutal 452km Finke Desert Race, whether you’re competing in a tough off-road truck or, even less sanely, on a motorbike, is an impressive achievement. To do both, on the same weekend, is beyond staggering.
Yet that’s exactly what Australia’s first Dakar champ Toby Price did at this year’s Finke Desert Race, held on June 11-13, in which competitors blasted 226km from Alice Springs to Finke one day, then blasted back the next.
For this country boy from Singleton, NSW, who started winning motorbike races at age four, merely completing the socalled ‘Iron Man Challenge’ wasn’t freakish enough. Despite it being his first serious off-road race in a truck (he’s won the bike event four times), he damn near won both the bike and truck categories.
He won this year’s two-wheeled title and finished an improbable second in the trucks, only eight minutes behind the winner, despite having rolled his 6.0-litre V8 Geiser Brothers machine three times in practice, then run off the track twice in qualifying, so he’d had to start from 18th.
On the first day (Alice Springs to Finke) Price overtook 13 rivals, quite often by nudging them from behind – “just a love tap”, as he put it – because he didn’t realise this was illegal. At the end of that first body-battering stage he ran straight to a plane and flew back to the startline to do it all again on his bike. Then he repeated the process the following day.
But the last word should go to one of his many awe-struck fans at Finke: “He’s got problems, that kid; I think he needs to see a doctor.”
Looking like a surfer who had just spent a relaxing afternoon at the beach rather than two days eating dust, Toby Price, 28, told us his secret had been barrel-rolling his truck in practice.
“I lost count of how many times it rolled, so I was pretty pumped to get out of it and feel alright.
Not even a broken fingernail. I wish I could fall off my bike and feel like that,” he laughed.
“After that I realised how safe I was in the thing, that I wasn’t going to get hurt, and I thought I might as well have a real crack.”