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Memory of mate fuels Price’s Dakar dream

TOBY Price is sure the mate who inspired him to take on the Dakar Rally, the late Kurt Caselli, will be watching over and helping him to the finish line when the 9000-kilometre test of man and machine starts this weekend.

DRIVEN: Toby Price reflecting on last year’s third place at the Dakar Rally. This year he is the only Australian rider in the race. Picture: Simone De Peak

Price will be one of the favourites to take out the motorcycle section of the Dakar after finishing thirdon debut last year and earning a deal with the dominant Red Bull KTM Factory Rally team.

It has been a meteoric rise for the 28-year-old from Aberglasslyn and one he says started with the help of American off-road starCaselli, who died in November 2013 in a crash at theBaja 1000 in Mexico.

“He was a big force in starting to get my name taken international,” Price said.

“He helped me go do the Baja races and pretty much putting my name down to start doing Dakar rallies.

“He’d seen a lot of videos of me racing in the desert. Heknew Ihad the speedand what I was doing in the desert was definitely capable of going in the direction he wanted to go.

“Wewere mates and he was more than happy to help me out, but his credibility in the motorcycling world was bigger than mine and it was amazing to see him throw my name about and help me to get to that same level.”

Seven months before Caselli’s death, Price rode with the American atthe AMA Hare and Hound National Championship in California andcrashed, breaking three vertebrae in his neck. His comeback from the near-crippling accident to the podium at Dakarhas been remarkable and Price said Caselli continues to be a source of inspiration.

”We met at the international six-day enduros and always hung out. We got along really well and had the same personality,” Price said.“He was a renowned desert racer in America and won a lot of championships.He would have been a strong contender in the Dakar for years to come.

Toby Price and Kurt Caselli

“His support was amazing and I’m sure he’s still with me somewhere and keeping an eye over everything and making sure we get to the finish line.”

Also driving Price on is the chance to create history. Last year’s third place was the equal-best effort by an Australian in the Dakar, and now he wants more.

”If winning Dakar happens this time or five, six, 10 years’ time, it’s never certain,but I’ve got my goals set on being the first Australian to win the Dakar Rally,” he said.“I know with my speed, I’m capable of doing that.”

Theprologue will be held January 2(Saturday night AEDT) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Stage one of 14 in the rally, whichtakesinArgentina and Bolivia, starts thefollowing day,

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