Toby Price wins Finke Desert Race as Baja looms
The Tatts Finke Desert Race is the most challenging off-road race in Australia, but its reputation has not stopped Toby Price from turning the Alice Springs-to-Finke-and-back run into his personal playground. He dominated the first day of racing on Saturday to the point where a runner-up finish on Sunday was not enough for Aaron James to surpass him for the overall victory, enabling Price to claim his eighth Finke and second in the Cars category.
With Jason Duncan as his co-driver, Price’s quest for an eighth victory began on a strong note when he topped the Prologue qualifying session, his TSCO-prepared #487 Mitsubishi Trophy Truck turning a lap time of 4:42.9 to edge out Josh Howells by two-tenths of a second for the pole. His momentum continued on Day #1 in more convincing fashion as his run from Alice Springs to Finke ended with a time of 1:36:38.5, over five seconds quicker than James’ Alumi Craft buggy.
James got back at Price on Sunday’s return trip to Alice Springs as his 1:42:10.9 trumped Price’s 1:45:07.6. However, the margin of two minutes, fifty-six seconds did not make up the advantage Price built the previous day. In total, Price’s time of 3:21:46.2 was two minutes and eight seconds greater than James’ 3:23:55.1, though the latter is still at least able to enjoy winning the Pro Buggy category.
Price is widely regarded as the top Australian off-road racer today, having won the Finke six times on a Bike before switching disciplines in 2021 to claim it on four wheels. He is the only person to win the Finke overall in both divisions.
In claiming Australia’s top off-road event, Price will have plenty of momentum through the summer as he prepares for a new excursion in North America: a three-race programme culminating in the legendary SCORE International Baja 1000 in November. Announced late May, Price will team up with fellow Aussie Paul Weel under the Team Australia name to drive a Trophy Truck in the Best In The Desert‘s Vegas to Reno on 10–13 August, the SCORE Baja 400 on 13/14 September, and the 1000 on 15–20 November. While Weel will be a newcomer to all three events, Price has run SCORE races as a co-driver in the past decade before finishing runner-up in the 2019 Baja 1000 alongside Nasser Al-Attiyah and retiring from the 2021 edition in a Trophy Truck Spec.
Weel also participated in the Finke Desert Race and in the X2WD (Extreme 2-Wheel Drive) class like Price, though an engine failure ended his weekend. The two previously raced together in the Stadium Super Trucks, as have fellow Finke X2WD competitors Billy Geddes (eleventh overall) and Greg Gartner (twelfth overall).