News 4 Dec 2012

Off-Road Observer: 48

Alex Gobert focuses on the world of off-road, presented by Yamaha's 2012 WR450F.

Toby Price has established himself as the number one off-road rider in Australia since switching to the discipline in 2009, winning the Australian Off-Road Championship as a rookie and then backing that title up in 2010 when he switched from Kawasaki to Motorex KTM Off Road Racing.

Apart from injury and a few minor set backs last year, Price has been near untouchable. This year he was back to his best riding the 500 EXC off-road, winning back the AORC title and then also winning the Hattah and Finke desert races. He missed out on the A4DE Outright win, but still ranked as top E3 rider before setting off to the US for a trip to Baja.

Right now, Price is yet to commit to a deal for 2013. He is Australia’s most wanted, but as of today, he’s most likely to re-sign with Motorex KTM. The catch is, he is waiting to see if he could potentially gain a few races in America, including the Baja 1000.

Price loved his Baja experience last month, completing the pre-run with KTM before witnessing the race as part of the support crew. Now, he wants to race and says it’s unlike any race in Australia specifically, but more so a combination of many leading races.

Toby Price in action at the Finke Desert Race earlier in 2012.

“It was a cool thing to be a part of, to learn a bit about it, so hopefully I can get my foot in the door and be part of the KTM team in 2013,” Price said. “It was a good experience, a bloody long way with good views, but a lot different to Finke. It’s a variety of everything we have in Australia, really.

“There are some high speed sand sections, then there are also some pretty rocky sections where you’re going at a pretty slow pace just making sure you get through without damaging the wheels or anything. There are wide-open straights, massive whoops, a wide variety of everything. You just have to stay away from the trees and everything – it’s basically all cactus and stuff!”

With Price working on a deal with KTM to race over there next year, he’s not ruling out the possibility of riding both here in Australia with the odd appearance overseas. He hasn’t always had the greatest luck in the US, but he still has his sights set on racing there fulltime before his career’s out. When will a decision be made? Probably a week… this month sometime at the latest.

If he's back in Australia next year, expect Price to re-sign with Motorex KTM Off Road Racing.

“I’m just waiting roughly within a weeks time I should know what I am doing,” Price explained. “Hopefully I will know if I’m able to race in the Baja with KTM, so it will be about a week or so until I know. It’s all starting to come together pretty late, but I’m just trying to sort something out over there.

“KTM Australia has been really good with everything, they want me to sign here, but I want to see if I can ride overseas – maybe I will race both here and in America for a few races. I’m not sure yet.”

Early speculation that Honda was courting Price seems to be fading, while Yamaha’s off-road operation is undergoing a major restructure since Geoff Ballard is retiring from running the race team. These factors bode well for Price to remain at KTM, plus the ‘early’ word is that current teammates Chris Hollis and Ben Burrell will likely remain in orange again.

It is December right now, movements are slow, but finally we should see some light at the end of the tunnel this month. No doubt Price’s signature will trigger a lot of progress within the teams and you can’t blame KTM for holding out for him – he’s worth every week they wait.