MATTHIAS WALKNER WINS 2018 DAKAR RALLY

Red Bull KTM rider Matthias Walkner created a little bit of history in Argentina by becoming the first Austrian to ever win the bike category of the Dakar Rally. The 31-year-old has been a consistent presence towards the front of the pack throughout the race and in a stage won by Kevin Benavides, Walkner brought his bike home in eighth to start the party. Walkner said: “When you are leading with such a big gap in the biggest event in our sport, it was crazy. Now it is time to celebrate. I was never the guy who was winning a lot or losing a lot, just riding always near the front.”

Matthias Walkner (AUT) of Red Bull KTM Factory Team is seen at the finish line of Rally Dakar 2018 in Cordoba, Argentina on January 20, 2018 // Marcelo Maragni/

Second place was Monster Energy HRC’s Kevin Benevides, who pushed hard to the end and won the final stage. “It’s been a great Dakar. I’m really happy and I felt great. It’s been really tough. We fought right up until the end. We always had a great strategy. We were always on the podium and were even leading the race at one point. It’s a shame about what happened in stage ten, but we have to keep looking forward. We’ve finished second overall and we have won the final stage, which we knew we could.

Third-placed finisher Toby Price said: “It is crazy to be here at the finish line on the podium. I couldn’t expect any more. We will come back bigger and better for the next one.”

Andrew Short

The Americans made their presence known throughout the race, although Ricky Brabec was forced to retire one day early with electrical trouble. He had been in sixth overall at the time. Andrew Short came in 17th overall in his first attempt at Dakar, riding to a conservative 25th place on the final day. “I’m so happy to make it to the finish. That has been a very tough 14 days of racing. I hurt my ankle yesterday and only just made it to the finish. Today’s tracks were a lot smoother. There was a lot of dust everywhere and I think most people were taking things a little easier. I had some crashes over the course of the event but it hasn’t dampened my spirits. It’s always been a dream of mine to compete in the Dakar and it’s been interesting how I’ve handled the challenge. We’ve had some adverse weather but that hasn’t been as bad as I had expected, I was ok at the altitude, too. I knew I would have some crashes, but to have four at high-speed is something I didn’t expect. The speed is something that has surprised me a little, I’m ok in the dunes and the off-piste stuff, but on some of the tracks you are riding at full throttle for what seems like hours. I thought my overall pace would be a little better, but I have come away from the event having learnt a lot and I know what I need to work on to improve. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season now and then hopefully I’ll be more prepared for the 2019 Dakar.”

Mark Samuel was also riding his first Dakar on the South American MEC Honda team. He eventually finished 21st. Shane Esposito was 25th in the end after finishing 13th in the final stage.

STAGE 14

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 BENAVIDES Kevin 47 ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda 01:26’41
2 PRICE Toby 8 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +00’54
3 MEO Antoine 19 FRA Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +02’49
4 OLIVERAS Daniel 29 SPA Himoinsa Team KTM +03’25
5 AUBERT Johnny 40 FRA Gas Gas Racing Gas Gas +04’19
6 MENA Oriol 61 SPA Hero Motorsports Team Rally Hero +05’01
7 FARRES Gerard 3 SPA Himoinsa Team KTM +05’23
8 WALKNER Matthias 2 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +05’38
9 CORNEJO José Ignacio 68 CHI Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +07’57
10 PEDRERO Joan 12 SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory Sherco +10’53
11 SANZ Laia 15 SPA KTM Factory Racing Team KTM +11’03
12 SOLÀ Marc 34 SPA Himoinsa Team KTM +11’32
13 ESPOSITO Shane USA KTM KTM +11’32
14 SAMUELS Mark USA OX Motorsports Honda +11’41
15 NOSIGLIA Daniel 33 BOL HT Husqvarna Rally Team Husqvarna +11’46

FINAL STANDINGS

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 WALKNER Matthias 2 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM 43:06’01
2 BENAVIDES Kevin 47 ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +16’53
3 PRICE Toby 8 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +23’01
4 MEO Antoine 19 FRA Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +47’28
5 FARRES Gerard 3 SPA Himoinsa Team KTM +01:01’04
6 AUBERT Johnny 40 FRA Gas Gas Racing Gas Gas +01:53’53
7 MENA Oriol 61 SPA Hero Motorsports Team Rally Hero +02:22’52
8 QUINTANILLA Pablo 10 CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +02:24’05
9 OLIVERAS Daniel 29 SPA Himoinsa Team KTM +02:37’20
10 CORNEJO José Ignacio 68 CHI Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +02:42’36

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