Red Bull KTM riders make a move on lead of Desafio Ruta 40
|Matthias Walkner and Toby Price have both put in strong performances on a long stage four of the 2018 Desafio Ruta 40 rally with the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders finishing first and second respectively. The result moves the pair up to second and third in the provisional overall standings going into Friday’s final stage.|
Day four of the Desafio Ruta 40 posed one of the greatest physical challenges of the rally so far. Containing the event’s longest timed special at 357.55km, the stage took competitors south from Tinogasta to the city of Villa Union at the foothills of the Andes. The route itself climbed to over 4,000m above sea level as riders tackled a variety of terrain, from river beds and washes strewn with large rocks to fast, open pistes on the drop down to the finish.
After a small issue on the previous day’s stage, Matthias Walkner set off seventh at the start of this morning’s timed special. Initially riding with the aim of catching the riders in front, he was soon faced with the treacherous terrain of the first 200km. Maintaining a steady pace, the Austrian concentrated on his navigation and the task of getting to the finish safely. Putting his experience to good use, Matthias ultimately posted the days fastest time, elevating himself to third overall in the provisional standings.
Matthias Walkner: “Today’s stage was good and bad in equal measures. The first half of the stage was really tough – the terrain was so tricky and the rocks so big. It really took it out of you, especially so early in the stage when the bikes are fully fuelled. I decided to stick to a safe pace and make sure I didn’t get lost or have an accident. It seems to have paid off because I was fastest today and managed to get a little time back that I lost yesterday. We’ve got one more day to go, so I’m looking forward to getting to the finish and hopefully with a good result.”
Toby Price put in a superb performance on the day’s technical stage. Similarly to team-mate Walkner, Price opted for consistency on the tough technical section of the stage before pushing on the latter half and ultimately clawing back valuable time on the riders in front. Second fastest on the day, Toby will be aiming to secure his podium position on tomorrow’s final stage.
Toby Price: “It wasn’t a bad stage today. I perhaps took things a little too steady at first, the guys in front were setting a good pace and I didn’t want to risk pushing too much and make a mistake. After CP2 I was able to push a little harder – I made up some time on the others and everything felt good. The encouraging thing is I was able to keep to a nice strong pace throughout the stage and that is always the goal.”
A small mistake in the first 60km of the stage ended up costing Luciano Benavides close to 30 minutes. After regrouping, despite a small crash, the young Argentinian was able to regain his composure and put in a solid ride on the remainder of the stage to claim seventh at the finish.
Luciano Benavides: “That was a really tough day for me – I got lost in the first half of the stage and ended up losing quite a lot of time trying to find my way back. After that I had a crash in a river and so from then on I decided to just bring it home safely and look ahead to tomorrow’s last stage.”
The fifth and final day of the rally sees riders leave Villa Union and head for the finish at San Juan. The stage features a long 191.49km liaison that leads into a 200.48km timed special. A short 55.74km liaison then brings riders to the finish.
Results – Stage 4 2018 Desafio Ruta 40
1. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 4:24:13
Provisional Standings – 2018 Desafio Ruta 40 Rally after 4 of 5 stages
1. Paulo Goncalves (PRT), Honda, 15:05:37