News 5 Mar 2013

Off-Road Observations: 9

MotoOnline's weekly enduro and desert feature, presented by Yamaha's WR450F.

The Australian Off-Road Championship may just be around the corner, but for defending champion Toby Price, his season starts this week.

The likeable Motorex KTM Off-Road Racing team leader jetted back overseas late last month in preparation for his first official desert race with the factory team in America.

Fresh back from recent testing at Finke, Price has been in Mexico of late in preparation for this weekend’s San Filepe 250 – the first of three major Baja races he’ll contest in 2013.

There’s been a bit of attention over there on Price in these early stages, obviously entering the event as a rookie, but a highly credentialed one at that.

Toby Price will be part of the factory KTM Baja assault in 2013.

Toby Price will be part of the factory KTM Baja assault in 2013.

It’s a credit to the Australian off-road industry when you look at the performances of our internationals on the world stage over the years, because the combination of AORC, the A4DE, select desert races and the Safari really do make for all-round racers capable in a variety of events across the world.

Whether it’s Team Australia at the Six Day, our many impressive Dakar competitors, Josh Strang in the US, our multiple talents in Europe’s WEC, or now Price at Baja (to name a few), the Aussies are a versatile bunch.

And let’s not forget that in between all this, many of our top enduro guns take time out to enter the odd Australian Motocross Championship round here or there on their weekends off!

For Price in particular, he’s determined to make a career in America, challenged by the financial situation in previous years, but now definitely knocking on the door to become discovered once and for all.

“That’s what I was holding out for, the Americans had been speaking to me for a little while now, so it’s nice to do another deal with the guys at KTM Australia as well,” Price said of his double duty in 2013.

“We’ll try do what we usually do, get some more wins on the board and then hopefully end up racing overseas full time after this Baja deal.

Price will be back next week to defend his AORC number one at Bulahdelah's season opener.

Price will be back next week to defend his AORC number one at Bulahdelah’s season opener.

On his Baja campaign, Price has high hopes after debuting as a support rider last year at the 1000 and cannot wait for his official race debut. He hopes the deal will springboard him to America full time in 2014.

“I’m glad to get a deal done with the factory KTM deal, which will see me compete in the Baja 250, 500 and 1000,” he said. “I’m hoping it will open doors, it’s definitely a good stepping stone across to the States to try and show what I can do in some of the desert racing.

“We’ll just wait and see, but that’s my goal to race over there full time, hopefully by 2014.”

It all starts this weekend for Toby over there, albeit in a desert role for now, but I’ve got a feeling he’s only going to get strong from this point. And by next week, he’ll be back here in New South Wales ready to defend his AORC number one plate!