Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price wins 5th & final stage of 2019 Rally du Maroc
|4th Rd. Rally 2019 – Rally du Maroc (MAR)
|Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price has won the fifth and final stage of the 2019 Rally du Maroc. Luciano Benavides claimed his best result of the event in third to finish sixth overall and claim the FIM Junior Cross-Country Rallies World title with Matthias Walkner completing the event in seventh. KTM Factory Racing’s Laia Sanz and Mario Patrao finished in 18th and 23rd places respectively with Sanz earning the 2019 FIM Women’s Cross-Country Rallies World Championship title.
Totalling 456.84 kilometres, stage five of the Rally du Maroc took riders north from their bivouac near Erfoud to the host city of Fes. The route once again challenged all competitors with a mixture of terrain starting with rough, broken pistes before leading to tighter, twisting tracks as the stage neared the finish.
Lying fifth overall after day four, Toby Price came into the short, final timed special with eight minutes to make up on the leaders. The Australian was the 15th rider to enter the stage and although the start position would often prove to be an advantage, Toby would still have to catch and pass several riders ahead in order to make up time. Pushing hard, right from the start, he gained on the leaders with every kilometre. Unfortunately, a small crash resulted in the reigning Dakar Champion losing too many seconds and despite pushing on for the rest of the stage to ultimately top the day’s standings, he was unable to make up enough time to take the event win. Fourth overall, Price now looks ahead to the 2020 Dakar Rally and the defence of his title.
Toby Price: “It hasn’t been a bad rally for me, I only just missed out on the podium, which is frustrating, but it’s been really good training. I knew I had to push really hard on that last stage and was making up good time but then had a small crash and gave myself a bit of a stiff neck. I missed out on the podium by just seven seconds but all-in-all I’m pleased with how I rode. Navigation was really tricky here and we had to learn to ride with the minimum of information. I’m hoping that will put us in a good position for January and the Dakar Rally.”
Enjoying a stellar year of competition, Luciano Benavides wrapped up his 2019 season with an excellent third place on the final stage of the Rally du Maroc to claim sixth overall. By topping the Junior Class at the event, the young Argentinian secured the 2019 FIM Junior Cross-Country Rallies World Championship title. Pleased with this year’s performance, Luciano hopes to carry his momentum into 2020 and the forthcoming Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia.
Luciano Benavides: “It has been a really good rally for me, I finished sixth overall and first in the Junior Class. It’s been the ideal rally to build my confidence ahead of Dakar and get use to the new road book system. I’m really pleased with my rhythm – I was always in a good position and trying to take the fight to the top guys. My times are not too far off now so I’m really happy and looking forward to Dakar.”
Returning to competition at round three of the world championship following the injury he sustained earlier in the year, Matthias Walkner continues to rebuild his confidence and find his rhythm on his KTM 450 RALLY. Mastering the technical terrain of the final stage to claim fourth, the Austrian rider finished in seventh overall in the provisional rally standings.
Matthias Walkner: “Although the result wasn’t quite what I had hoped for I think the rally has gone pretty well. I won the Prologue and we had some really good pace on the bike in all the different types of terrain. The new system with the road book is good and will add a new element to the racing, but I think the details have to be accurate as each day anyone opening the stage seems to lose a lot of time at the moment. Overall, I am happy with how the event went, I’ll spend some time now to rest and then I’m all in again with training for Dakar.”
The KTM Factory Racing pairing of Laia Sanz and Mario Patrao also enjoyed strong results on the final stage with Laia securing 18th place and Mario 23rd. Completing the event in 18th and 22nd places respectively, the two will now focus on their training and bike set-up ahead of the Dakar Rally.
With the points earned from her excellent seventh-place result from the Silk Way Rally in July, Laia Sanz clinched the 2019 FIM Women’s Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.
Laia Sanz: “It’s been a really tough rally, but I am happy to finish safely. I perhaps didn’t get the result I was hoping for but we were able to do some good training and test many things on the bike. I’m really happy with the suspension setting we found and we made a number of other improvements, too. I’m ready to train hard until Dakar.”
Newly crowned 2019 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion Sam Sunderland was forced to retire from the Rally Du Maroc following a crash on stage two. The British rider hurt his elbow in the fall, but thankfully following further medical checks, the injury is not thought to be serious.
In what has been a superb season for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team with event wins and multiple titles earned, KTM have also won the 2019 Manufacturers World Championship title.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing will be back in action at the 2020 Dakar Rally, held in Saudi Arabia from January 5-17.
Provisional Results – Stage 5 Rally du Maroc 2019
1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 2:13:15
Provisional Standings – Rally du Maroc 2019 after 5 of 5 stages
1. Andrew Short (USA), Husqvarna, 18:03:54
Provisional Results – 2019 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 109 points