KTM’s Toby Price fastest on Desafio Inca Day One
|Desafio Inca Rally 2018 – Peru (PER)|
|Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price has won the first stage of the 2018 Desafio Inca Rally in Peru. With navigation proving tricky for all riders, Matthias Walkner finished ninth and KTM Factory Racing’s Luciano Benavides posted the 15th fastest time for the day.|
The 340km timed special on day one of the event saw riders head into the desert close to the city of Ica in southern Peru. The stage, comprising mostly of the large sand dunes characteristic of the area, consisted of two loops covering the same route. Navigation on the first lap was especially important with many riders losing time midway through the stage.
After competitors were given random start numbers on the previous day, Toby Price set off just after 8:00am with over 10 riders ahead to chase down. With one particular waypoint proving tricky to find, a lot of the front runners on the stage lost time and were soon caught by those behind. Price, using his experience, maximised his advantage on the timed special and brought his KTM 450 RALLY home in first place.
Toby Price: “Not a bad stage today. A couple of waypoints were really hard to find and the guys in front lost their way. I was lucky in that by the time I arrived at the group they had found the waypoint so I was able to make up a lot of time there. After that it turned into a bit of a trail ride with everyone running together. It’s hard to learn when riding like that but that’s the way it goes sometimes. My result from today will mean I start at the front tomorrow, so I’ll do my best to keep to a good pace and learn as much as I can before the guys behind catch me. All-in-all I’m happy and healthy and we’re getting some good training done for the Dakar in January.”
Matthias Walkner and Luciano Benavides both rode a solid first day. Despite losing time on the first lap, the pair were still able to gain valuable knowledge from riding in the deep sand of the area. Walkner finished as ninth fastest with team-mate Benavides 15 minutes behind in 15th.
Matthias Walkner: “Things started off really well today, up until kilometre 60 I was able to ride on my own and concentrate on my navigation. Then there was a waypoint that seemed to cause everyone some issues. We rode two loops today and even on the second time through that waypoint was difficult to find. Luckily, we were able to find our way again a lot faster after the first lap through. The biggest problem was, with everyone getting lost at the same point, we ended up riding in a group of seven or eight and it made things very tricky in the dust. There’s two more days to go and the main goal remains the same – get used to the area and work on the set up of the bikes when riding in the sand here.”
Luciano Benavides: “It was a good day today, I felt good on the dunes and didn’t crash. I didn’t make any big mistakes, I just got lost once but I think everyone had a problem with that waypoint. I lost a few minutes trying to find it but after getting back on track I just tried to ride smooth to the finish and concentrate on my navigation.”
Returning to competition following his injury sustained at the Atacama Rally, Sam Sunderland’s goal at the Desafio Inca is to clock up valuable kilometres in the Peruvian dunes and prepare himself for the 2019 Dakar Rally in January. Deciding to pull out of stage one after the first lap to conserve himself, Sunderland hopes to build on his experience on Saturday’s stage two.
Sam Sunderland: “I’m here for different reasons to the others after breaking my foot three weeks ago, but I’m pleased to get some good kilometres done on the bike. I was glad to open the stage and put in a good first 50 or 60 kilometres, but I decided not to ride the second loop just to give my foot a rest and as it was the same route and everyone would be following the same traces anyway. I feel fit for tomorrow though and hope for another good day with some good experience.”
Unfortunately, after feeling unwell during Thursday night, Laia Sanz’ return to rally competition was also cut short. The former Enduro World Champion made the start but similarly to her team-mate Sunderland, decided to retire from the stage after the first lap.
Laia Sanz: “It’s disappointing not to be able to finish the day but I felt ill overnight and still unwell this morning. I tried to race but decided to finish the day after the first lap. The result here is not so important, we’re here to train for the Dakar, but even so it’s a pity not to finish the stage. I’m glad I was able to complete the first lap as it’s the most important in terms of navigation and riding the dunes. Hopefully I will feel a little bit better tomorrow and will be able to have a better day’s training.”
Stage two of the 2018 Desafio Inca will again see riders contest two loops of a 350km course close to the city of Ica in Peru.
Results – Stage 1 2018 Desafio Inca
1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 4:10:19.0