Winning two of the five stages of the Rally du Maroc, as well as the short, opening Prologue, Price secured the overall win ahead of his teammate Mathias Walkner with a comfortable margin of over seven minutes. With his nearest title rival Pablo Quintanilla finishing in fourth place overall, Toby leapfrogged the Chilean rider in the standings to claim the championship by a six-point margin.
Toby’s journey to the 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship title has not been an easy one. A crash at the 2017 Dakar Rally forced him to retire early from the event with Price subsequently spending much of the year recovering from the broken femur he sustained. Returning to competition at the 2018 Dakar last January, Price impressed with his outright speed, ultimately taking two stage wins and finishing in third position overall.
Riding with great consistency throughout the 2018 season has paid off for Price. Multiple stage wins as well as podiums at the Atacama Rally and Desafio Ruta 40, added to his win in Morocco, have resulted in the 31-year-old becoming a worthy 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion.
Toby Price: “What an amazing season – I can’t believe it. It’s been a tough one and I didn’t expect to be at the top of the list at the end of it. I had some bad luck back in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of the year, but after that every rally has gone well and I’ve finished on the podium at every round. To win the world championship with a win here in Morocco makes it all that little bit sweeter. If I am honest, I was nervous out there on the final stage today, there are no guarantees in rally racing, especially when I had to lead the stage out. This is my first world championship in any category so I am so, so happy. It’s all credit to my team and everyone at Red Bull KTM, without them behind me I wouldn’t be standing on the top step. I’m standing on the top of the world and it’s the best feeling ever.”
Wrapping up the Rally du Maroc in second place overall Matthias Walkner, although disappointed not to have taken the win, was pleased with his riding and the performance of his KTM 450 RALLY.
Matthias Walkner: “It was a tough day today – very fast, rough and the sort of stage that you could easily make a big mistake. I had a comfortable gap to the rider in third so I was able to take things a little steadier and aim for a safe finish. Overall, I am happy with my performance here in Morocco and thrilled to take third in the championship.”
Monster Energy Honda Team’s American rider Ricky Brabec, who triumphed on the final day, takes third place overall for the second year running, in what proved to be as a gruelling rally.
American Ricky Brabec wrapped up the Morocco Rally with a big smile after prevailing in the final stage. The rider from the Monster Energy Honda Team also secured a final place on the rally’s podium as the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship season concludes. Brabec finishes the campaign in fifth overall position. This wasn’t the first time that Brabec has won a world championship stage – he did so last year with a partial victory in this same race with an identical third-place podium outcome.
Ricky Brabec: “The final stage of the rally was a good one. It was a great way to end the rally and get the final race of the year under control before the Dakar in a good and positive way. I’m very happy and looking forward to the Dakar. It was more or less my type of riding with a lot of rocks and trial areas which was really fun. Then we got up into the mountains where the tracks were a lot more visible and fast and sliding. It’s always good to drift the bike around. It feels good to be going home. We’ve been in Africa for way too long. I’m looking forward to a couple of weeks before the Dakar to get some nice recharge time.”
Enjoying yet another positive event ahead of the upcoming Dakar Rally, Pablo Quintanilla has secured fourth overall at the 2018 Morocco Rally. Wrapping up a stellar season of international rally competition by securing a hard-fought runner-up spot in the 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider now looks ahead to the prestigious Dakar Rally, in January 2019.
Pablo Quintanilla: “It’s been a long week of racing here in Morocco and I am happy with fourth in the overall results. I gave my best this season to defend my World Championship and I am satisfied to finish the season in the runner-up spot. I was on the podium in every race we took part in and ended the season with fourth here at the Morocco Rally. My race pace was good throughout the year and I was also very consistent in my results. I want to say a big thank you to all the members of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team, who have been giving their best in each event. This season I’ve worked a lot with my team and I’m feeling strong going into the upcoming Dakar.”
Brabec’s Monster Energy Honda Team comrade, the Portuguese rider Paulo Gonçalves, finished the stage in fifth position, which earned him fifth place overall too. Paulo, who had been in the battle for the race leadership, suffered a fall in the third stage that forced him to ride a more prudent pace to ensure an injury-free finish. The rally is the final one before the season’s blue riband event: the Dakar 2019. Paulo ends the world championship season in fourth overall position.
Paulo Goncalves: “We finish this last race of the world. I started with a good pace, but the third day, with a fall, made me lose the rhythm. I managed to finish after two editions without being able to reach the end. I am quite happy because I found the speed, and physically I’m there too. In addition, Monster Energy Honda Team has done a great job here. We will continue along this line which is proving to be the right track. Now we have three more months to continue with maximum motivation to reach the great race in the best possible conditions and help the team to do their best.”
The last stage of the 2018 Morocco Rally also saw Andrew Short put in his best individual stage performance at this year’s event. Securing an eighth place result on the final stage, Short claimed seventh in the Morocco Rally’s overall standings.
Andrew Short: “I really enjoyed this last day of racing here in Morocco. Today we had some technical parts, but overall traction was good and I could push for a good result. This rally was quite fast and had less sandy sections than what I expected, but overall it was a good experience. I feel I learned more this week in Morocco and this gives me the motivation to keep working. There’re still things I need to improve with my navigation and my pace is some faster sections. I think I’ve improved a lot in a little more than one year since I made the switch to rally racing, but there’s still a long way to go. These next couple of months I’ll try to analyse all the things I’ve learned this season in order to get stronger for Dakar.”
Following an issue earlier in the rally where a heavy impact with a large rock damaged his rear tyre and mousse and resulted in lost time, it would always be a challenge for Sam Sunderland to bridge the gap to the front-runners. Despite the setback, the British rider posted some excellent stage results, enough to regain a position inside the top-10 at the climax of the event.
Sam Sunderland: “I am really happy with my rally here in Morocco – the team have all done a great job. I had some bad luck earlier on but overall I am pleased with how things have gone as my riding and navigation were strong throughout the rally.”
2018 Morocco Rally – Stage 5 Classification
1. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 02:31:56
2. Toby Price (KTM) 02:32:08
3. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 02:32:13
4. Paulo Goncalves (Honda) 02:32:56
5. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 02:33:55
6. Stefan Svitko (KTM) 02:38:45
7. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 02:39:09
8. Andrew Short (Husqvarna) 02:40:47
2018 Morocco Rally – Overall Classification
1. Toby Price (KTM) 16:08:37
2. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 16:16:09
3. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 16:25:12
4. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 16:43:29
5. Paulo Goncalves (Honda) 16:56:51
6. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 17:05:40
7. Andrew Short (Husqvarna) 17:32:54
Final Standings – 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship
1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 91 points
2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 85pts
3. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 75pts
4. Paulo Goncalves (POR), Honda, 70pts
5. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 56pts