Toby Price has become a three-time King of the Desert on four wheels after taking out the prestigious Tatts Finke Desert Race as part of the Polaris Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship.
Having won Method Race Wheels Prologue and the race down to Finke earlier this weekend, Price was in a league of his own on Monday as he enjoyed a trouble-free run back to Alice Springs.
The Queenslander and navigator Jason Duncan ended up crossing the line with an impressive time of 3:21:46.268 – just four tenths short of their record win last year – and more than six minutes ahead of the next crew.
“We’re stoked. We came into this one a little bit unprepared after coming back from the Baja race and we didn’t know what to expect,” Price said race.
“We just wanted to go flat out and put on a show for everyone, try and see if we can ring the neck of this truck. It’s done an amazing job and we’ve got a go to three in a row.
“It was a bit of a perfect run for me. Honestly, it was a good clean run yesterday and we had push pretty hard.
“It’s so hard to start at the front because you don’t know what people are doing behind you, but yeah, it all went really well and then we just did a quick little check over in the truck overnight and then just baby the thing home.
“It was a nice, good, smooth, clean run. And Duncan did an amazing job.”
Finishing the third round of the Polaris Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship in second place was Greg Gartner and Jamie Jennings, while Travis Robinson and Andrew Pinto picked up the final podium place a further six and a half minutes off.
It was a mighty performance from Gartner and Jennings, who went fourth fastest overall on the way down to Finke on Sunday before making two solid passes on the way back up to Alice Springs to record the second fastest time overall.
One of those passes included Robinson and Pinto, and while the West Australians were unable to close Price down or hold off Gartner, it was a remarkable run considering they had multiple mechanical issues throughout the weekend.
Adding to the drama was the tight finish for the final podium place as Robinson and Pinto crossed the line just 11 seconds ahead of Brent Martin and Andre De Simone, with the duo having pushed them right down to the final corners.
Martin and Simone didn’t walk away empty handed though as they claimed Prolite class honours in the process.
Rounding out the top five in an outstanding performance was Beau Robinson and Shane Hutt after the duo overcame a difficult day yesterday to record the third fastest time for the day behind only Price and Gartner.
Starting the day ninth, Beau was a man on a mission as he took advantage of the DNFs of fellow AORC stars Josh Howells and Brent Smoothy, while also overtaking Shannon Rentsch midway through the race – the latter of which had issues of his own.
Not far behind Rentsch, who had a replacement navigator for the ill Ian Rentsch, was another veteran of the sport in Mark Burrows and son Tom Burrows.
Highlighting the closeness of the day’s competition, just two minutes separated Travis and Burrows at the end of the race.
In eighth place overall was Phill Lovett and Luke Stanley with the duo also taking out the Extreme 4WD class after Smoothy’s DNF earlier on Sunday.
Another notable class victory was that of James Cook and Mitch Aucote, with the Victorians comfortably sealing the SXS Pro Class by six and half minutes over Jeff McNiven and Jake Nicholson.
Not only did they enjoy their first ever class victory at Finke, but they also enjoyed a top 20 finish, finishing 16th overall.
Crossing the line behind them in P17 was Sam Bentley and Rick Ireland, who claimed top honours in the Sportslite class.
Other class winners included Brad and Courtney Geraghty (Super 1650 Buggy), John White and Jack Briggs (SXS Sport) and American father-son duo, Brad and Byam Lovell, who steered the Ford Performance Raptor to the Production 4WD class win.
The next round of the Polaris Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship will be the Loveday 400 on 28-30 July.