Marc Coma’s words ahead of the 2017 Dakar Rally seem almost prophetic right now, with the five-time winner and now Dakar Sport Director saying that this year’s edition of the iconic rally raid race would be the toughest ever held. The first four stages of The Dakar have proved this point, quite well.
As of Stage 3, eight motorcycle competitors had already retired, and Stage 4 claimed the Dakar’s first high-profile victim: KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price.
Just a few kilometers from the end of the stage, Price had overtaken Honda’s Joan Barreda on the course, and while navigating a tough riverbed, the KTM rider crashed and broke his left femur.
The Dakar medical team responded to the incident, and Price was ultimately helicoptered to a hospital in La Paz, Bolivia for further treatment. Unfortunately for Price, this will mark the end of his 2017 Dakar Rally campaign, and dash KTM’s hopes for a repeat of last year’s result.
This also puts into the question KTM’s ability to keep its winning streak at the Dakar Rally alive, with the Austrian brand looking for its 16th consecutive rally win this year.
Right now, Matthias Walkner is KTM’s best hope, with the Austrian rider currently sitting second in the standings, just two minutes behind Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla.
Once the massive penalties that were handed to Honda’s factory rally team have been counted, four KTM riders should be in the Top 5 spots.