Walkner wins again for KTM on Dakar SS10
|Matthias Walkner has won a drama-filled stage 10 of the 2018 Dakar Rally. Toby Price and Antoine Meo both started well, but then lost time during the latter half of the stage to eventually finish 19th and 26th respectively. KTM Factory Racing’s Laia Sanz put in another good ride to finish 11th, but unfortunately her team-mate Luciano Benavides was forced to retire from the rally after crashing.|
Following a cancelled stage nine, the first day of racing in Argentina was a difficult one for all competitors. A 424km liaison brought riders to the beginning of today’s timed special – a 373km long route that twisted its way through the dunes and riverbeds of the Catamarca region before finding its destination at the city of Belén.
As it happened, it wasn’t the intense heat that proved most difficult for the competitors but the navigation. Matthias Walkner was running third at the start of the second leg of the timed special, six-minutes behind the leader. Taking extreme care to find each waypoint, Walkner navigated his way successfully to the finish and was surprised to find himself the first rider home. The Austrian now leads the provisional overall standings by a sizable 39 minutes and 42 seconds.
Matthias Walkner: “What a day. That was such a tough stage, not only because of the heat but because of the navigation, too. I knew today how important it would be to bide my time and concentrate on finding each waypoint successfully. Better to spend a few seconds getting things right than pushing on, wasting a lot more time after getting lost. When the tracks from the guys in front disappeared, I got a little worried that I had made a mistake, but I carried on and trusted myself. It was a big relief when I saw the waypoint validated and I reached the finish. It’s always good to take a stage win, but never nice when one of your opponents crashes out. I hope Adrien (Van Beveren) is ok. We have a hard stage tomorrow so I’ll go about it in the same way and try not to make any mistakes.”
Toby Price and Antoine Meo, were in the leading group of three at the mid-way service. Unfortunately, as is often the case when following other riders, navigation becomes more difficult and mistakes are easier to make. Forced to turn around and retrace their steps, Price and Meo eventually re-joined the correct route and made it to the finish.
Antoine Meo: “The first part of the stage went really well for me today, I was opening the road but my pace was good and I was happy with how things were going. After refuelling I was following Benavides and riding in his dust. We ended up making a mistake with one of the final waypoints and ended up way off course. The helicopter guided us back to the route, but we lost so much time. It’s disappointing, but we got to the finish in one piece which is the most important thing. I’ll keep on pushing for the remaining stages because anything can happen at the Dakar as we have seen today.”
Toby Price: “I’m so disappointed with the result today. It was hot out there and I didn’t have much fluid so that made things even harder. We were running really well right up until the end but obviously made a mistake with the navigation on the final waypoint. It seems a lot of the other riders made a very similar mistake, but I guess that’s the way it goes. I lost a huge amount of time and that is going to be hard to get back, but I’ll keep pushing on and see what the next few stages bring us.”
An early crash slowed Laia Sanz’ pace at the beginning of today’s stage. Despite her navigation equipment being damaged, she rode on, taking more care to make each waypoint successfully and minimise the risk of any further mistakes. Her diligence paid off and Laia completed the final part of the timed special without incident, finishing in a very strong 11th place.
Laia Sanz: “My day started off pretty bad – I had a crash early on and damaged my trip computer. From then on it was very difficult to navigate and find the waypoints. I had to really ease off on my pace in order to not have an accident. On the second leg of the stage my navigation was really good and so in the end it wasn’t such a bad day after all. I placed 11th at the finish which puts me in a really good start position for tomorrow.”
Laia’s KTM Factory Racing team-mate, Luciano Benavides was forced to retire from the rally today after a crash on the first part of the timed stage. The Argentinian, injuring his back in the incident, was airlifted to hospital for further checks.
Tomorrow’s (Wednesday’s) Stage 11 of the 2018 Dakar Rally is the infamous Super Fiambalá – often regarded as the toughest and most exhausting of the event. It is not overly long, the timed special only measures 280km, but the temperature in the dunes around the town of Fiambalá makes the stage extremely tough on mind and body. That, combined with the extra-soft sand of the area, provides a real challenge for the competitors.
Provisional Results Stage 10 – 2018 Dakar Rally
1. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 4:52:26
Provisional Standings after Stage 10 – 2018 Dakar Rally
1. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 32:21:03