The 43rd Dakar Rally struck again on Tuesday. Thanks to a particularly technical and sand-heavy 2021 route, the world’s toughest race has become a war of attrition. After Hero MotoCorp rider CS Santosh’s campaign ended in Stage 4, numerous other competitors have also relinquished their bid for the desert crown. Most notably, Toby Price of Red Bull KTM had to surrender his attempt to capture a third Dakar title after a Stage 9 crash.
Just 96 miles into today’s leg, Price sustained injuries to his head, shoulder, and wrist. The collision required medical services to airlift the Australian rider to a nearby hospital in Tabuk. Luckily, Price remains conscious and will undergo x-rays and further evaluation over the next few days. The crash comes after a marathon stage fraught with tire issues for Price. With a large gash in his rear tire, the Red Bull KTM rider had to fashion a patch out of duct tape and zip ties. He managed to limp to the Stage 8 finish line (with one zip tie intact), but the following stage proved too much for the two-time Dakar champ to overcome.
Price’s exit comes after a flurry of race-ending injuries and mechanical problems for fellow competitors. Recently, Husqvarna rider and leader after four legs Xavier De Soultrait crashed out in Stage 8. Just one day later, Rockstar Husqvarna’s Luciano Benavides also called it quits due a shoulder injury and Monster Energy Yamaha’s Ross Branch had to cancel his race as a result of engine issues.
After nine stages, Monster Energy Honda’s Kevin Benavides, Ricky Brabec, and Jose Ignacio Cornejo stand atop the leaderboard, respectively. Close behind, Toby Price’s Red Bull KTM teammates Sam Sunderland and Matthias Walkner are less than 15 minutes behind the leader. With three more legs to go, the standings will surely shuffle before the final finish line. We just hope as many racers as possible can complete all 12 stages and avoid further injuries.