The three-man Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team of Toby Price, Luciano Benavides and Matthias Walkner have all successfully completed the first leg of the Dakar’s marathon stage inside the top six. KTM Factory Racing’s Mario Patrao brought his KTM 450 RALLY home in 34th place.
Stage 10 of the 2020 Dakar Rally was set to truly test all competitors and their machines with a long 534-kilometre timed special from Haradh to the temporary overnight bivouac at Shubaytah. In the interest of safety and due to the deterioration of the weather, the stage was cut short at kilometre 345, with riders then travelling to the marathon bivouac untimed.
Second into the day’s stage, Toby Price had little in the way of tracks to follow as he made his way through the fast, off-piste route. Despite some challenging navigation, which caught many riders out, the experienced Price was able to make his way cleanly to the refuelling stop. With the stage then shortened, Price was credited with fourth fastest, just under three minutes down on the stage winner.
Toby Price: “My day has gone well. It’s a little frustrating that the stage was cut short as I was planning on finishing a little further back to make up more time tomorrow. It is what it is and of course it was definitely the right decision to make regards safety. The good news is, the bike’s in good shape and we’re all ready for tomorrow. Unfortunately, I’ll still be starting quite near the front, so it’ll be tough to make up a lot of time on the leaders, but I’m feeling strong and looking forward to the last couple of days.”
Enjoying the day’s stage, Luciano Benavides put in another strong ride from his seventh-place starting position to move up into fifth by the fourth checkpoint. Placed seventh in the provisional overall standings, the young Argentinian trails teammate Walkner by just three minutes.
Luciano Benavides: “It was a good stage for me today – really fast, off-piste at the beginning with lots of broken dunes. There was one section with really tricky navigation, where a lot of people got lost. I did well there and got through without making too many mistakes and arrived at the refuelling in about fourth or fifth. After that, I had been looking forward to the last part of the stage through the big dunes, but with the stage cut short we didn’t get to see that. My bike is good, with no problems, so I’m ready for tomorrow.”
As the 10th rider into stage 10, Matthias Walkner was aiming to maximise the advantage of his later start position, hoping to claw back valuable minutes on the front-runners. Showing great speed during the opening 200 kilometres, the 2018 Dakar Champion was running second, and looking to progress further on the latter half of the stage. With visibility deteriorating, Matthias was forced to ease off a little and reached the revised finish in sixth place, five minutes down on the leader.
Matthias Walkner: “It was a strange day today and quite tricky in places. The first 100 kilometres went well, navigation was ok and I made up some good time. At around kilometre 200 the wind was really strong so that made it hard to see the pistes, visibility was bad too and I ended up making a small mistake that cost me a couple of minutes. I really enjoyed the stage and it’s a shame it was shortened, but this is the race and we still have two unpredictable days to go.”
KTM Factory Racing’s Mario Patrao rode a solid stage 10 to arrive safely at the bivouac in 34th place. The experienced Portuguese rider is invaluable on the marathon stages due to his mechanical knowledge and ability to advise and assist his teammates, if needed. Thankfully, with the stage shortened, his tasks this year were lessened, with all riders reaching the finish without incident.
Stage 11 of the 2020 Dakar Rally – the second leg of the marathon stage and the penultimate day of racing – will cover a total of 744 kilometres and include a timed special of 379 kilometres. Although stage 10 was shortened, riders will still need to care for their machines and tyres in order to complete the stage successfully.
Courtesy Red Bull KTM