Cross-Country Rallies

Toby Price

2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion

Born on 18 August 1987 in Hillston, Australia

PRICE IS RIGHT FOR GOLD

Toby Price finally added an FIM gold medal to his impressive list of off-road honours in 2018, claiming the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship after overhauling 2016 and 2017 champion Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) in a thrilling final round in Morocco.

Price had scored several stage wins throughout 2018 but went into the Rally du Maroc looking for his first overall victory of the campaign, knowing that’s what it would probably take to overturn Quintanilla’s eight-point advantage.

The season had started with mixed fortunes for the Australian, who won the opening test at the first round in Abu Dhabi only to crash on the second stage, costing him over half an hour while he made repairs. The next day saw Price wait with an injured rider until medical assistance could arrive and even though he was given the lost time back he ended the rally seventh, whilst the Chilean opened his title defence with a commanding victory.

With the Qatar Cross-Country Rally not supported by the factory teams, Polish youngster Maciej Giemza (KTM) claimed the win and the championship lead and after success for 2018 runner-up Kevin Benavides (Honda) at the Atacama Rally in Chile and Paulo Gonçalves (Honda) in Argentina - with Price taking the runner-up spot in both – the chase for the title going into Morocco was wide open.

After winning the prologue and the Marathon stage, second place on the final test was enough to secure the rally victory and the title for Price, with Quintanilla unable to do better than fourth overall. Price’s triumph in Morocco came four years to the day of his maiden international rally at the same event in 2014.

PALMARES

1 World title – 2018

Pablo Quintanilla

2017 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion

Born on 10 December 1986 in Valparaiso, Chile

QUINTANILLA DOUBLES UP IN DRAMATIC STYLE

Chile's Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) was crowned the 2017 FIM Cross Country Rallies World Champion for the second successive season after a thrilling four-way final-round battle that saw Paulo Gonçalves (Honda) arrive at the OiLibya Rally of Morocco just five points behind the leader, with Sam Sunderland (KTM) a further point back and Kevin Benavides (Honda) just thirteen points adrift.

Last year's runner-up Sunderland made the strongest start to the season, defeating Quintanilla by just six seconds at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in an exciting opening round. Sunderland again showed his class on the sand with a second straight win in the Qatar Cross Country Rally but once the series arrived on South American soil it was the turn of Quintanilla and Benavides to shine, the Chilean taking victory on his home territory of Atacama and the Argentinean doing likewise with his first ever FIM Rally victory at the Desafio Ruta 40. Sunderland's chances were dealt a severe blow when he was ruled out in Argentina after crashing and banging his head and with Gonçalves a constant podium presence it was the experienced Portuguese rider who travelled to Morocco as Quintanilla's closest contender.

However, an incident-packed and bruising few days saw several stages cancelled due to extreme weather and both Gonçalves and Sunderland were forced to withdraw through injury. There was more drama when Quintanilla was dealt a penalty and dropped from third to ninth ahead of the final stage, however as Benavides got lost at the front he hung on for sixth place and claimed the title in dramatic style. Meanwhile a first win of the season for Austria's 2015 champion Matthias Walkner (KTM) moved him up to third overall ahead of Gonçalves and the luckless Sunderland.

PALMARES
2 World titles – 2016, 2017

2016 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion

Born on 10 December 1986, in Valparaiso, Chile

QUINTANILLA TAKES DESERT GLORY

Chile's Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) became the 2016 FIM Cross Country Rallies World Champion after a battle with Great Britain’s Sam Sunderland (KTM) that went all the way to the final round in Morocco. After victory in the opening round, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Toby Price (KTM) saw his title challenge derailed by a back injury, which ruled him out of the Sealine Rally in Qatar.

In the Australian's absence his team-mate Sunderland took victory, stepping up as a championship contender to Quintanilla. The Chilean set his stall out on home territory, taking victory in the penultimate round of the season and leaving Sunderland down in fifth place after a tough week on the winding tracks of the Atacama Desert.

Tensions were running high at the final round, the Rallye OiLlibya in Morocco, where Quintanilla's eleven-point lead looked shaky as he made several attempts to adjust his suspension. Meanwhile, Sunderland took control of the rally but crucially set off on the wrong trail coming out of an oued (partially dry river bed) and lost eight minutes before finding his way, conceding the win to the fit-again Price and the title to a jubilant Quintanilla in third.