KTM's Finke Desert Race winner reflects upon his 2014 success.
You could say Toby Price’s recovery from a broken neck sustained last April is almost complete, following a third-career Tatts Finke Desert Race win in the Northern Territory over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. The KTM Desert Racing team rider was dominant on his way to victory aboard the bulletproof KTM 500 EXC, topping the Prologue and stretching a comfortable lead on the 226-kilometre run down to Finke. Come Monday he ‘cruised’ back to Alice Springs and the overall, taking another step in cementing himself as one of the race’s all-time greats. MotoOnline.com.au tracked Price down this week to recall his journey.
Well done on the win at Finke, Toby. It’s your third Finke Desert Race win, a great result, and a great way to come back from what has been a big year for you.
Definitely, where all stoked with it, the KTM Desert Team has put in the hard work and effort for it, so to come away with the win is really with after everything we have been through. It was definitely a great win!
Where does this win rate in your career, considering last year you were up there watching from the sidelines and supporting the team? To come back and win what is a really important race and to get the job done first time back is a massive achievement.
It’s definitely high up there. Every win has its own special own meaning to it, but this one was good to get back, especially after year being up there watching it in a neck brace last year to winning it this year. It definitely means a lot and I’m just stoked with it on how it all worked out.
You were quickest in the Prologue and then got into the lead early and asserted yourself at the front on the run down to Finke. How was that first sector of the race?
Yeah, the whole weekend started off really well. We got the quickest time in the Prologue, which set me up well for day one. It was a good clean run. There was a couple of moments through there which got the heart rate racing through the roof, but other than that we got down there with just over a two-minute lead. We just had to try and control the race from day two. On day one it was a pretty rough track; it was pretty much by far the worse I have ridden down the Finke track. It was just real square edge, real sharp, like whoops this year. It made it pretty interesting and very hard.
For those who aren’t familiar with the race, what do you once you actually get down there? What goes on overnight?
We get there roughly at the 2:00pm mark and there is not much else to do than chill out with your mates and hang around the campfire. There are no McDonald’s or big hotels… there’s pretty much nothing down there. There is about three to 10 buildings out in the middle of nowhere, just a little community in Finke. But it’s good to just chill out and have a bit of a BBQ at the end of the day. You sleep in your swag at the end of the day, then get up in the morning and go for it again the next day.
It took just under two hours to get down there and was a bit quicker to get back this year. How was that return trip? It seemed as though you were doing exactly what you had to just to get the job done.
Yeah, that was it. On the way home we were getting a few messages relayed to show me where I was at – I was just making sure I was controlling it and getting home safely. It was a quicker trip back, compared to how the track was going down. The actual bumps where a bit smoother and a bit more rolled off, I thought. You could just get up on top of things a bit easier and it was a good run home. To cross that finish line first was definitely a big achievement for myself and the KTM team.
It’s a huge event for KTM with all the bosses there including Jeff Leisk. They really get involved and behind this event; no doubt it’s a special one for them to win. This year you were on the 500 EXC, so tell us about that bike and what’s that like to ride in desert racing trim.
Like you said, it was good to have all the bosses there and all the big sponsors that chip in to help out with Finke this year. It definitely is a nerve-racking race having those guys there. They’re all watching you and you want to try and do them guys proud. This year we chose to go with the KTM 500 EXC, mainly due to the reason because we could get the bikes registered and basically they’re good for desert racing as they are, nearly off the showroom floor. We only changed a few things like the tank and the Steg Pegz, the steering damper, exhaust, seat and a few other internals just to make the motor a little bit stronger and to put up with the abuse. The bike is good as they are! We were stoked with the way the new bike was this year. They were definitely fast and they got up on the sand really good. The KTM 500 EXC is definitely the bike of choice for desert racing at the moment.
And you had a new team manager this year, Ben Grabham, who’s in charge of the desert racing team now. It must be pretty fun to work with him in that sort of role, considering your racing history. You’re closing in on his four wins at Finke now…
Yes, having Ben as a team manager now is good and he’s actually still competing in the race, doing well. But I think he is getting a little bit excited about the future of racing out there and taking over the manger’s role. He’s enjoying the desert stuff and it’s good to have him in our corner. Having him with four Finke titles to his credit, he knows himself what can be done to the bike to make it better. It definitely helped me a lot to get me to the point of winning my three Finke championships, so it’s really good to have him on board and we can’t thank him enough.
Well congratulations again, awesome win and like so many, we’re really proud of you coming back as strong as you have with this type of success.
Perfect mate, thanks heaps and thank you to everybody who helped us along the way.