Dakar 2015 – Stage 3 – Matthias Walkner wins Stage Three – Barreda leads overall
Toby Price fourth on stage three and now sixth overall
Being a debutant does not necessarily mean being slow. In any case, KTM Matthias Walkner gave a fine demonstration of speed to pick up his first stage victory on the Dakar.
After finishing eighth on his very first special on the Dakar, then 6th on the longest special of this year’s edition between Villa Carlos Paz and San Juan, Matthias Walkner decided to take the quickest route to his first stage victory on the Dakar. The Austrian three times MX1-MX3 world champion was in the leading trio at CP2 before going into overdrive, leaving the discipline’s specialists in his wake and writing the first entry on his roll of honour for the King of all rallies at the finish in Chilecito.
Matthias Walkner: “I already had a good feeling when I got to the finish because I knew I had a good day. But at the end I was a bit tired and wasn’t concentrating so well and I made some small mistakes. It is an amazing feeling to win the stage and for sure I didn’t expect this. It will be difficult to open the piste tomorrow. Now for the rest of the rally I just want to enjoy every kilometer, to learn and to stay focused on the road book so I don’t make many mistakes.”
Walkner’s performance puts him definitively among the riders to keep an eye on, whilst Marc Coma is being closely watched by all his rivals. After losing more than ten minutes the previous day, the title holder staged a comeback, finishing only 40 seconds behind Walkner.
More importantly, Coma gained one minute back on Joan Barreda who did not tempt fate and instead made sure of a solid third place to consolidate his leadership in the general standings.
Marc Coma: “Today was not a long stage and I thought it would be a good day to recover some time. But in the end that is quite difficult to do if the distance is short. Tomorrow the skyline of the rally completely changes. We arrive in the open desert and the sand dunes where I feel more comfortable. Everything is possible.”
Joan Barreda – 3rd + 1’53 – “It was a stage where you really had to have your wits about you. Marc could have made up a lot of time, if I had made any navigational errors. The final part was full of stones, broken track, and many traps, so you had to be really careful with both the riding and the navigation. I kept up a good pace, and I felt pretty good, but I thought it was better not to take any risks in the final section.”
Fourth across the finish line was Australia’s desert racer Toby Price, like Walkner making his first appearance in the Dakar Rally as a KTM-supported rider. Price continues to be impressive and was only 2 minutes 45 behind Walkner, and ahead of Barreda’s nearest rival in the general standings, Paulo Goncalves.
Toby Price: “The first part of the stage was fast and open and the navigation was easy. If all the Dakar was like this I wouldn’t have any dramas but I’m still struggling a bit with the road book definitions. At this stage I definitely couldn’t lead a stage but hopefully by the end of next week we might be able to do that. Once we get into the desert its game on and a lot of hard work. My pace might drop off a bit but hopefully by the end of next week we can pick it up again.”
Paulo Goncalves – 5th + 2’49 – “Today I finished the stage in third with a good position overall. The first kilometres were really fast and we got very high up in the mountains with a lot of very narrow and dangerous tracks. In the final 50 kilometres, there were loads of river-beds and off-road, so you had to stay very focused. Tomorrow, we will have the first day in Chile, a tricky day, and I just want to concentrate on taking it day by day to achieve the objectives.”
Alain Duclos put in a fine performance at the end of the stage to put his Sherco in sixth place, whilst the rest of the French contingent is struggling, with in particular the 16th and 21st places of the Yamahas ridden by Michael Metge and Olivier Pain.
Laia Sanz, the leading lady, enjoyed a noteworthy performance, finishing 17th on the day’s stage.
The stage, said to be one of the most scenic in this year’s rally, took riders northwards along the line of the Andes. They had to negotiate their way through red earth tracks and canyons and spent much of their time in extremely rocky riverbeds.
The riders are now taking a well-earned rest to ready themselves for tomorrow’s stage. The competitors will have to prove they are worthy of entering Chile tomorrow! A very early start and a climb to a height of 4,800 metres will precede the border crossing at Paso San Francisco. The really challenging section will begin with a gradual warm-up on the mining tracks, before drivers are faced with the reality of the Atacama Desert. The route here is open and sandy. Over the course of the last 40 kilometres, the giant dunes and basins of Copiapo will have to be tackled and for many this will be at night. Overcoming them will require finesse and instinct. Marked by its long liaison of 594 km and large difference in altitude it will be another challenging day for Dakar competitors.
Dakar 2015 Rally Stage Three – San Juan to Chilecito – 437 km liaison, 220 km special (657 km)
1. 27 Walkner (Aut) KTM 02:34:28
2. 1 Coma (Esp) KTM 02:35:08 00:00:40
3. 2 Barreda Bort (Esp) Honda 02:36:21 00:01:53
4. 26 Price (Aus) KTM 02:37:13 00:02:45
5. 7 Goncalves (Prt) Honda 02:37:17 00:02:49
6. 14 Duclos (Fra) Sherco Tvs 02:37:39 00:03:11
7. 11 Faria (Prt) KTM 02:37:54 00:03:26
8. 12 Israel Esquerre (Chl) Honda 02:38:30 00:04:02
9. 4 Viladoms (Esp) KTM 02:39:04 00:04:36
10. 10 Pedrero Garcia (Esp) Yamaha 02:39:49 00:05:21
Overall Dakar 2015 Standings after Stage 3:
1. 2 Barreda Bort (Esp) Honda 09:43:050
2. 7 Goncalves (Prt) Honda 09:48:38 00:05:33
3. 27 Walkner (Aut) KTM 09:53:38 00:10:33
4. 1 Coma (Esp) KTM 09:53:55 00:10:50
5. 11 Faria (Prt) KTM 09:55:15 00:12:10
6. 26 Price (Aus) KTM 09:55:29 00:12:24
7. 4 Viladoms (Esp) KTM 09:57:12 00:14:07
8. 12 Israel Esquerre (Chl) Honda 10:01:38 00:18:33″
9. 5 Rodrigues (Prt) Honda 10:01:39 00:18:34
10. 10 Pedrero Garcia (Esp) Yamaha 10:06:07 00:23:02
In sad News Dakar 2015 also recored its first fatality when Polish bike rider Michal Hernik (no. 82) was found dead on the selective section of the third stage of the rally between San Juan and Chilecito at kilometre 206.
The circumstances surrounding his death have yet to be determined, as the competitor did not show any external signs of an accident.
When the race management detected the loss of his Irritrack signal and was informed that he had not completed the special stage at 15:16, it decided to start a search for the rider at 15:23. An ambulance helicopter found the rider 300 meters off the route at 16:03. Unfortunately, the on-board doctor could only confirm the rider’s death.
At 39 years of age, Michal was taking part in the Dakar for the first time and he was in 84th position in the general ranking. He had previously participated in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in 2014 and the Morocco Rally in 2013, both of which he completed.
- STAGE 4 – Wednesday, 7th January
- Chilecito (ARG) – Copiapo (CHI)
- Liaison: 594 km
- Special stage: 315 km
At night the route is twice as hard! – The competitors will have to prove they are worthy of entering Chile! A very early start and a climb to a height of 4,800 metres will precede the border crossing at Paso San Francisco. The really challenging section will begin with a gradual warm-up on the mining tracks, before drivers are faced with the reality of the Atacama Desert. The route here is open and sandy. Over the course of the last 40 kilometres, the giant dunes and basins of Copiapo will have to be tackled and for many this will be at night. Overcoming them will require finesse and instinct.