Dakar Rally 2017: Toby Price faces altitude test to defend crown

Toby Price will need to conquer a new navigation system and six stages above 3500 metres in altitude if he is to defend his Dakar Rally motorcycle crown in South America next year.

The 2017 race will start in the Paraguayan capital, Asuncion, on January 2 and end 12 days later in Argentina. Along the way riders will face a week in the mountains of Bolivia and redesigned waypoints aimed at making navigation harder.

The waypoints are GPS coordinates vehicles must pass through along each stage. 

“They’ve brought in new waypoints, and they’re the ones that are going to make it a little bit difficult. You’ll have to navigate pretty much 100 per cent and spot on,” Price said. 

“It’s just trying to bring the pace back down a little bit. The last two years of Dakar the pace has really risen to another level, and unfortunately at this year’s Dakar we saw a fair few injuries, and even through this whole year of the world championship there’s been a lot of injuries on the way.

“Just a bit of a thing to slow that pace down and make sure you read and navigate the way.”

The Hunter-bred KTM star, who now spends much of the year in Spain, said he would take a conservative approach early in the rally.

“It’s going to be difficult. It’s going to be testing on us and the bike. Just play a really smart first week and get through unscathed and look after the bike and ourself, then hopefully the second week we can push and make some damage.

“You never know what’s going to happen in 14 days of racing.”

Toby Price and his Red Bull teammates talk about the 2017 Dakar Rally