Toby Price back in the lead in Morocco
Rodney Faggotter ninth on stage three and 11th overall
Red Bull KTM factory riders on Wednesday wrapped up stage three of the Morocco Rally, and after the marathon stage where teams are denied any support and camp overnight in the desert, Toby Price leads the overall standings by one minute 58 seconds.
Toby Price finished a close and tactical second place in Wednesday’s stage, tucked in behind Argentine rider Kevin Benavides and trailing by only 51 seconds. He now starts second on Thursday, which relieves him of the duty of navigating to open the track for stage four.
“Today I’m quite happy because I made a comeback and got a good result. Yesterday was a really tough stage for me. Today I felt very good right from the start and I started to really push, overtaking various riders. It was a bit complicated in the beginning with all the dust, but I felt some pretty good sensations with the bike as was able to ride at a fast pace. I had a slight navigational error but that didn’t matter so much. I’m happy to have won the stage but I felt bad when I found out that my teammates had had some problems and when I found out that they are out of the race. We are going to try and do all we can for Honda.”
Matthias Walkner made a good recovery after getting lost in Tuesday to finish third in the stage, just 1.04 minutes behind the leader, and Sam Sunderland was a close fourth to wrap up a good day for the KTM factory team.
After two tough days in the desert, where riders had to save tires and look after their bikes through both stages, the three-man team were pleased to have the marathon stage behind them. Both days were long and exhausting, particularly Tuesday when they traveled from the ocean into the dunes some 554 km, just under 300 of which was under the clock. After a night camping in the desert they then had to tackle Wednesday’s third stage of 390 km, including the 315 km timed special.
The start of Tuesday’s stage was also not without a flavor of adventure after riders were held up by the military after the first 50 km and organizers later neutralized the first section and took the result only from the first checkpoint.
“After the holdup I put in some extra time on my tyres to go flat out to make up the time, but other than that it was good. We navigated at the front all day and I didn’t make any navigation errors, only small things, so we got through well. Stage three today was definitely difficult with the navigation. I was glad to be at the finish line on both days and to get the marathon out of the way. The bike is in good shape and we’re looking forward to stage four. Tomorrow will be difficult but I go off second behind Kevin (Benavides) and at the moment I’m battling with Sam so it’s going to be a tight one right to the finish. As long as we can stay on the navigation and don’t make any big errors it should be good.”
“The first part of the marathon was a bit strange because after 50 km we had the military across the track waving guns at us. After that they (the organizers) neutralized the first part but the navigation for the rest of the stage was pretty heavy. I had to ride really fast to make up for a few mistakes but I arrived okay at the end of the first part. The bike was perfect and with no problems, which was lucky because in the marathon stage we get no assistance.”
Sunderland said riders were on their bikes for about 12 hours on Tuesday so were very tired when they reached the bivouac for the overnight stop. “Today we didn’t get fresh tires so we just had to do with half good tires. I saw after a while that (Paolo) Goncalves had stopped with engine problems. Then I was in front and opened the route for the last 220 km. I had a good feeling but the navigation was tricky so I just took my time when I needed to and pushed when I had to. Tomorrow will be another long day but we’ll keep fighting and see how we go.”
Walkner confirmed that he had got badly lost in stage two on Tuesday and went about 20 km in the wrong direction. “But in the end I’m here to get ready for the Dakar Rally and sometimes when you try to do the best you can, it happens. Now I think my speed is getting better, but I still have to work on the navigation. Today I started eleventh. I caught some dust at the beginning but I was getting better and better, also with the navigation and I finished third, which is quite cool for me. In the end I was just happy to be in the front.”
Yamaha Hélder Rodrigues managed to move up one spot in the rally’s provisional standings. Currently fifth overall with two stages to go in the dunes of Morocco, the Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team is well in contention for a final podium result at this year’s event.
Continuing to improve as the rally goes on, Queensland’s Rodney Faggoter finished the special stage just twenty seconds off Rodrigues’ total time in ninth place. With this being just his first official outing aboard the WR450F Rally the Australian keeps moving up the rankings, where he’s provisionally placed 11th overall.
“It’s been a pretty good day for me. I had a good starting position and managed to pass a couple of riders that had issues right off the start. I had no navigation problems and managed to retain a good race pace until the end of the special stage. I’m happy with how things are moving on at this rally. I’m learning all the time and getting more comfortable as the days go on. Some of the other riders pushed hard during the first two stages and now they’re getting tired. I get more familiar to the stony tracks so I can push more now. I feel good and I’m looking forward for the remaining two stages.”
Thursday’s penultimate stage of the 2016 OiLibya Morocco Rally will see competitors complete a loop around the city of Erfoud, with the highlight of the day being the 319km long timed special in the dunes of the Sahara Desert.
The Morocco Rally, the final round of the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship concludes with stage five on Friday, when the title will also be decided.
Provisional results Stage 3
- BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Team HRC Honda 3:13’05
- PRICE Toby AUS KTM Factory Racing Team KTM +00’51
- WALKNER Matthias AUT KTM Factory Racing Team KTM +01’04
- SUNDERLAND Sam GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +01’28
- QUINTANILLA Pablo CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +03’00
- DE SOULTRAIT Xavier FRA Yamaha Racing Yamaha +06’32
- RENET Pierre-Alexandre FRA Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +07’01
- RODRIGUES Helder POR Yamaha Motor Europe Yamaha +08’09
- FAGGOTTER Rodney AUS Yamaha Racing Yamaha +08’29
- PEDRERO Joan SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory Sherco +10’02
- VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha Motor Europe Yamaha +12’07
- METGE Adrien FRA Sherco TVS Rally Factory Sherco +20’15
- KLYMCIW Ondrej CZE Team Klymciw Husqvarna +22’55
- RODRIGUES Joaquim POR Hero Motorsports Team Rally Hero +32’33
- PATRAO Mario 44 POR RR Motos Credito Agricola KTM +39’01
Provisional Standings after Stage 3 OiLibya Rally du Maroc
- PRICE Toby AUS KTM Factory Racing Team KTM 6:55’26
- SUNDERLAND Sam GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +1’58
- BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Team HRC Honda +2’29
- QUINTANILLA Pablo CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +11’16
- RODRIGUES Helder POR Yamaha Motor Europe Yamaha +15’06
- DE SOULTRAIT Xavier FRA Yamaha Racing Yamaha +17’28
- VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha Motor Europe Yamaha +19’30
- PEDRERO Joan SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory Sherco +21’54
- RENET Pierre-Alexandre FRA Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +32’44
- WALKNER Matthias AUT KTM Factory Racing Team KTM +33’34
- FAGGOTTER Rodney AUS Yamaha Racing Yamaha +40’24
- ESPOSITO Shane USA KTM KTM +43’20
- SANTOLINO Lorenzo SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory Sherco +49’24
- METGE Adrien FRA Sherco TVS Rally Factory Sherco +52’06
- KLYMCIW Ondrej CZE Team Klymciw Husqvarna +55’49