Australia’s first Dakar Rally winner Toby Price is first overall after stage 8, zeroing in on a kiss with KTM Factory teammate Laia Sainz but risking the loss of his mullet.
The long-time friends made a bet before the Peruvian rally that if Toby finished better than fifth he could kiss Laia for five seconds and if the Spanish rider finished getter than 15th, she could chop off Toby’s trademark mullet.
Toby finished the 323km beach-and-dunes stage eight overnight in third and despite not yet winning a stage, his consistency has landed him in first outright, a minute in front of Husky rider Pablo Quinanilla.
With just three stages to go, his five-second kiss with Laia is looking good.
But his mullet is also in serious danger.
Laia is currently 13th outright, but almost three hours behind Toby.
Both are not in prime physical condition with Toby nursing a wrist he broke in training last month and Laia recovering from Q fever which prevented her training most of 2018.
Toby started racing the Dakar in 2015, finishing an astounding third. He became a KTM factory rider in 2016 and was the first Aussie to win the rally. He broke his leg in 2017 and last year finished third despite not racing for a year due to injury.
Not only is he the first Aussie to win the gruelling rally, but last year he also became the first to win the world rally title.
Laia is a 13-time Women’s Trial World Champion and 10-time Women’s Trial European Champion in outdoor trials.
She is competing in her ninth Dakar, having finished top 20 in five. Her best finish was a ninth in 2015.
(Details on the Aussie rookies, Ben Young and James Ferguson will be available later today when the rest of the riders finish.)