Having achieved a podium finish in his debut Dakar last year, Australian Toby Price believes he can challenge for top spot in 2016.
Price managed a third place in last year's race despite having never taken part in the gruelling event before, and he did it on a bike well below the standard of most of his rivals.
“In my wildest dreams I never would have thought I was going to podium at Dakar in my first attempt,” Price told FOX SPORTS Australia.
“My bike was sitting there with not one sponsor on the side of it bar KTM, just a plain white bike, and guys from factory car and truck teams were like, ‘who the hell are you, where did this come from?!?’ To have those guys come up and tell you things like that, it’s pretty damned special.”
This year, Price will tackle the Dakar as a Red Bull KTM factory rider – the factory that has won every Dakar since 2000 onwards – meaning he is now a serious prospect for victory.
“(In 2015 I had) a stock-standard bike that basically anybody from the public can buy off the showroom floor; no special parts, no special equipment,” Price said.
“We’re coming in a lot more prepared this year. We’ve done a lot of trips this year to Spain and Morocco, done some good testing with all the team. We’ve got a two-year deal with the factory Red Bull KTM Rallye team. They’re giving me the best equipment that I’d need to do my job.
“My body, leading into Dakar this year, is fit and healthy. We’re putting the effort in on the bike, we’ve trained a lot in Morocco. We got back from there a couple of weeks ago.
“We were doing probably 300-400 kays a day on the bike. I was waking up the next day feeling good, the body wasn’t sore. I know we’re in good, healthy shape.
“Leading up to Christmas we’ll still be training pretty hard. Probably train Christmas morning so I can indulge myself a little bit on Christmas Day for lunch!
“But we’ll make sure we still put the effort in, then a couple of days before we fly out we’ll rest up and make sure we’re packed, make sure we’ve got everything.”