In a way he had. Finishing third is probably a bit of a bummer for Toby. He’s proven he can win it. He won a stage again this year, so he’s as fast as the fastest riders. A navigation error cost him over 40 minutes, and if you sliced that off his finishing time, he’d have been a clear winner. The winner, teammate Mathias Walkner, didn’t make the navigation error.
As always in racing, the ifs and buts don’t matter and we shouldn’t discuss them. Walkner won it fair and square, I was rapt to see Kevin Benvides take second for Honda, and Price came in third. The miracle I can see in that podium finish is this being Price’s first accredited World Rallye race since Dakar last year when he broke his leg. I knew he had been training hard and hadn’t spared himself or a single cent to pursue the fastest and best possible recovery, but still, at that level, I thought a sheer lack of race fitness may have been his downfall.
So to finish on the podium with what might be not very accurately called a year off was a miracle and a tribute to Price’s talent and determination.
I might be stretching things a little there, but it was a huge achievement and will be added to his fast-growing legendary status.
I was up early most days – I slept in when stage nine was cancelled – as keen as everyone else to see how the race was progressing and how the Australians were going. Rod Faggotter did an astonishing job to finish 16th outright.
Rod was once again the first Yamaha Factory Team finisher. Injury took it’s toll on a lot of the frontrunners, but like Price’s navigation mistake, that’s all part of racing. I hope Rod Faggotter is given a big step up in support for 2019.
Scott Britnell probably did it the toughest of anyone, but he toughed it out to record a 61st-place finish.
I’ve had a big week of early mornings at the computer trying to sift through the information and work out what was for reals and what was fanciful nonsense being spread by mischievous wankers. We’re on our way to a long weekend and I’m really hoping to get in a ride on something somewhere.
I’ll let you know.
I think Craig Murcott just scooted past my window on his DR, blowing the horn like madman. Lucky bugger. He’d obviously been for a ride.