Dakar winner Toby Price has taken the early led in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the opening round of the 2016 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.

The Australian took the stage to lead by 35 seconds from his KTM team-mate, Dubai-based Sam Sunderland.

The three front-runners Price and Sunderland and Pablo Quintanilla pushed each other hard and exchanged the lead a number of times throughout the stage and at the end of the day had managed to distance themselves from the rest of the field by some 14 minutes.

Chile’s Pablo Quintanilla is another 34 seconds behind Sunderland in third on his Husqvarna, with Portuguese riders Helder Rodrigues and Jakub Piatek followed by Spain’s Txomin Arana Cobeaga completing the top six.


“Happy to take out the opening stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge! I started in 39th position as I had the option to choose where I wanted to start from,” Price said on Facebook.

“I charged from the back and passed everyone before the 278km finish. My team mate Sam Sunderland returned to racing after his injury strong with 2nd and only 33 seconds off me, it was great to ride the whole stage with the big fella!

Results Stage One Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2016 1. Toby Price (AUS) KTM 450 Rally Factory 1 3:39.39 2. Sam Sunderland (GBR) KTM 450 Rally Factory 1 3:40.14 3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL) Husqvarna 450 Rally Factory 1 3:40.48 4. Helder Rodrigues (POR) Yamaha WR 450 1 3:53.47 5. Jakub Piatek (POL) KTM 450 Rally Replica 1/4 3:54.55 6. Txomin Arana Cobeaga (ESP) Husqvarna 450 Rally Replica 1 3:55.27 7. Mohammed Al Balooshi (ARE) KTM 450 Rally Replica 3:56.56 8. David McBride (GBR) KTM 450 Rally Replica 1 4:00.42 9. Laia Sanz (ESP) KTM 450 Rally Factory 1/3 4:05.32 10. Pierre Alexandre Renet (FRA) Husqvarna 450 Rally Factory 1 4:09.16

Standings after Stage One (of five) 1. Price, 3:39.39 hours 2. Sunderland, +35 sec 3. Quintanilla, +1.09 min 4. Rodrigues, +14.08 5. Piatek, +15.1

Photo Credit: Pablo Quintanilla