Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price has finished the fifth and final stage of the 2018 Atacama Rally in second place and in turn earned a strong runner-up result in the final standings. Matthias Walkner posted the day’s fourth fastest time and also claimed fourth overall after a tough week of racing in Chile.
After completing more than 1,300km over five full days through the Atacama Desert, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing duo of Toby Price and Matthias Walkner have successfully finished the Atacama Rally. The majority of the event was centred around the Chilean mining town of Copiapó, with each leg laid out in a loop starting and finishing at the bivouac.
Second away from the start of Saturday’s final stage, Price knew he would have to push hard to make up time on the provisional rally leader. With the stage covering a lot of the area previously used in the rally, there were many traces left in the Chilean sand to confuse riders and upset their navigation.
Posting the second fastest time for the day, Price was less than five minutes behind the overall winner after a full week of racing in Chile. Pleased with his performance over the course of the rally, the Australian now looks forward to his next outing in Argentina.
Toby Price: “It was a good day today, it was always going to be tough to make up enough time to take the win, especially over such a short stage. Nevertheless, I’m happy with how the day and the whole rally has gone. I set out at the beginning of the event to ride consistently and get back up to speed with the bike and the navigation and I think I have managed that. To finish second after such a tricky race is good and sets me up well for Argentina. Hopefully I can deliver more of the same, stay fit and healthy and put in another good performance.”
Winning the previous day’s stage, KTM’s Matthias Walkner was assigned with the demanding task of opening the tracks during Saturday’s fifth and final 154.94km timed special. Despite the added difficulty of many tracks being on the ground already, the 2018 Dakar Rally champion used his considerable knowledge and experience to successfully navigate to the finish without any mistakes. Placing just off the podium in fourth overall, Matthias was satisfied with his overall performance during the week.
Matthias Walkner: “I enjoyed the rally, but I am glad we have now reached the finish. Today’s stage was shorter at 150km, but was still very tricky due to all the traces from the last few days – sometimes you follow the same route and then you have to decide when to turn off and follow a new one. To be the first rider to the finish feels great, even though I did lose a little time over the course of the day. I know if I hadn’t got lost earlier in the week my overall result today could have been better, but overall, I am happy with my riding. We have done some good work on the bike this week, the suspension is feeling really good, so thanks to my team for that. We’ll head now to the Ruta 40 and hopefully improve a little more there too.”
The points awarded from this year’s Atacama Rally elevate both Price and Walkner in the 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies Championship standings – Toby to a provisional fourth with 36 points and Matthias just one place behind on 34.
Sam Sunderland, who unfortunately retired from the rally following a crash on stage four, is recovering well and hopes to be back onboard his KTM 450 RALLY as soon as he is fit enough to do so.
The next event for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rally riders will be the Desafio Ruta 40 held in Argentina from August 25 to 31.
Provisional Results – Stage Five, 2018 Atacama Rally
1. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 1:40:10
2. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 1:41:28 +1:18
3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 1:42:10 +2:00
4. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 1:42:38 +3:28
5. Paulo Goncalves (PRT), Honda, 1:43:38 +3:28
Provisional Final Standings – 2018 Atacama Rally after 5 of 5 stages
1. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 14:18:39
2. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 14:24:04 +4:25
3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 14:26:06 +6:27
4. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 14:30 :00 +10:21
5. Franco Caimi (ARG), Yamaha, 14:42:26 +22:47