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Toby Price riding out pressure of expectation for Dakar Rally

IN FOCUS: Aberglasslyn-based star Toby Price faces the media after finishing third in the Dakar Rally this year. Picture: Getty ImagesTHIS time last year Toby Price was preparing for his maiden Dakar Rally far removed from the spotlight and the pressure that comes with it.
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This year he couldn’t escape it if he wanted to.

After announcing himself asa future star with third overall and a stage win, theAberglasslyn off-road rider is hot property leading intonext month’s9000-kilometre epic from Argentina toBoliviaand back again.

The 28-year-old has regularlyfeatured on national radio and TV this week as he prepares for Dakar as part of the eliteRed Bull KTM Rally factory team.

“The last three days have just been like a whirlwind, I don’t really know where I am at the moment,” Price said on Wednesday.“But it’s been good, I can’t complain.

“It has been a little bit of an adjustment, from going there last year basically as an unknown, and no one expecting anything, including myself, then to come away with third.

“It’s definitely changed a lot leading into Dakar 2016.”

Priceconcedes the pressure is on sincebecoming just the second n rider to stand on the Dakar podium, but he believes it will fade away once he hits the course in Buenos Aires on January 2.

“Every time you line up on a bike in any race, there’s alwaysthat pressure there that you’vegot sponsors you want to keep happy and to do the best you can and get results,” he said.

“But from the team, there’s been no sit-down meetings saying you’ve got to do this. They know what motorsport racing islike. Anything is possible.

“For sure, it’s hard to put all that stuff aside. That pressure does sit there a little bit. You do think of all that.

“But it’s the build up where the pressure is.As soon as day one kicks off and you get started, you get into your groove.On the bike is where I feel most at home. In the speed battle holding that throttle on.”

Pressure has also come with joining KTM’s top team, which has won every bike section at Dakar since 2001.

Price acknowledged the jump in expectations but said the changedid not ensure success.

“In 2015, I had a stock standard bike,” he said.

“This year the bike is 10 steps ahead of what I had, but it doesn’t guarantee I’m going to smash it.

“The team is amazing and I have all the right equipment and tools I need to get the job done, but it comes down to putting it all in place.”

With expectation has also come support, and Price is hoping to use it to help carve outa special place in Dakarhistory.

“It’s been amazing and overwhelming the support I got from getting third place last year from ,” he said.“I know I’ve got the whole of behind me and I definitely think they are going to be a big push to help me get across that finish line.

“I just hope I can bring a good result for me and and prove we’re going tobe a force to be reckoned with for the next five, 10 years, and get a win.”

Price leaves for the Dakar Rallyon December 28.

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