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Aussie Dakar champ itching to defend title

AAP logoAAP 28/10/2016 Warren Barnsley

In winning the 2016 Dakar Rally, motorcyclist Toby Price covered 9,300km in stifling heat while negotiating treacherous terrain and headache-inducing altitudes.

And it was all on three to four hours sleep a night for two weeks.

Perhaps more amazing is the fact he wants to do it all again next year.

In January, the 29-year-old became the first Australian to win the famous race in South America in any category when he romped home almost 40 minutes ahead of his nearest rival.

Price began planning his title defence almost immediately.

"It's like an addiction. It draws you back and you just want to go again," the NSW Hunter Valley product told AAP.

"When Dakar finishes, the preparations basically begin straight away.

"Since January, the thought process has been in place for 2017."

It's been a remarkable rise for the Red Bull off-road rider.

Three-and-a-half years ago he was in a hospital bed after crashing during a race, breaking three vertebrae in his neck and narrowly avoiding becoming a quadriplegic.

He has also overcome family tragedy.

All eyes are on him leading into his title defence beginning January 2.

But he's taking the added pressure in his stride as he meticulously plans every aspect of 2017 edition of the Dakar, including mechanics, navigation and his physical and mental preparation.

"Being reigning champ, there's a bit of pressure to do well again and be near the front," he said.

"The pressure's also on them. They want to be in the position that I'm in.

"I'm going to attack it the same as I did this year. That system's working for me and I try not to stress about too much.

"I know what I've got to do. I've go to get on that bike and ride it as fast as I can. It may work out or it may not."

Price describes his career in racing as "surreal" having viewed his feats in the Red Bull TV documentary on his life 'Paying the Price'.

But he hopes it's not the final chapter.

"There's definitely been some highs and lows along the way, but I wouldn't change the path to get to where I am now," he said.

"Hopefully I've got plenty of pages in the book to fill."

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