Lockdown on the Gold Coast is giving Toby Price all the time he needs, and more, to prepare for the 2021 running of the Dakar Rally.
No racing means he has moved to a new workshop and is focussing on fitness as he looks forward to the biggest off-road race in the world.
The course for Dakar 2021 is revealed this week and shows a completely new route in Saudi Arabia with 11 stages and a rest day.
“We’re good to go for Dakar . I’m looking forward to getting over there and getting into it,” Price tells Race news.
“I’m back with the factory KTM 450, so it’s the same bike as we’ve had this year. I’ve a proven bike and given good results, so we’re sticking with what we know.”
Price has a brilliant record in Dakar and will be one of the favourites again in January.
“I’ve started six and finished five on the podium. Not too shabby, I cannot complain,” he laughs.
“I’ve got two first places and three thirds. Anyone would give a left nut just to get a little one of those.”
Price has varied his racing over recent years, graduating to four wheels for the Finke Desert Race and in a series of Stadium Super Truck events, but has been completely sidelined by COVID-19.
Without Finke, or the World Championship for Cross-Country Rallies, he cannot wait to get going again.
“Anything we can race, I’ll have my hand up for it,” he says.
“I’m trying to do anything at the moment. We’re definitely working a lot in the shop, getting prepped so we’ll be ready when it does get going.
“Normally there would have been two or three events in the the world championship already. But we won’t do any rounds until the end of the year, which will probably be Abu Dhabi and Morocco in October and November.
“I’m not sure about Stadium Trucks. When they do resume I’ll have my hand up.”
Early Dakar details from the Amaury Sport Organisation show it is pushing ahead with plans for an event from January 3-15 in Saudi Arabia.
The country has had more than 125,000 cases of Covid-19, with just under 1000 deaths in a population of 33 million, a relatively low figure.
However, plans to expand the Dakar beyond the borders of Saudi Arabia have been axed.
Originally, the ASO had been hoping to add stages in Jordan, or even in Egypt, although this would have required a boat trip across the Red Sea and back as Saudi Arabia and Egypt do not share a land border.
In the end it was decided the expansion would be too much at this time, but the ASO has created a completely new route. Only 80 kilometres remains from the course in 2020, with a full distance for 2021 around 7200 kilometres.
It will start and finish in Jeddah, with 11 stages and a rest day in the city of Ha’il on January 9.
The ASO says moving the Dakar in Saudi Arabia has been a success, after a downturn in interest – particularly in France – when it was held in South America.
The contract with Saudi Arabia runs until at least 2025, although there are still plans to expand into other countries.