Matthias Walkner has won the 2018 Dakar Rally. The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider completed the 14th and final stage of the event in eighth place, enough to ensure a hard-fought overall victory while also giving KTM a 17th consecutive motorcycle class win. Toby Price pushed hard to the finish, placing as runner-up on today’s stage to claim an impressive third in the overall standings.
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Matthias Walkner entered the final timed special stage of the rally with a healthy 22-minute lead over his nearest competitor. Holding his nerve and completing the short 120km loop around the Argentinian city of Córdoba, the KTM 450 RALLY mounted rider did exactly what he needed to do to win the 2018 Dakar Rally. This victory, the first for an Austrian rider in the motorcycle class, is the 17th in a row for KTM, who have won each and every edition of the Dakar since the rally moved to South America in 2009.
Walkner has unquestionably put in a champion’s performance at this year’s event – the 40th edition of the Dakar Rally. The former FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion has ridden intelligently from the very first stage, finding the right balance between out-and-out speed and error-free navigation. Stage 10 was again a game-changer in the rally with Walkner ending the day with an almost 30-minute advantage over his nearest competitors after many of the top riders made navigation errors.
In reaching the finish of Saturday’s final stage in eighth position, Matthias was finally able to relax and celebrate a well-deserved win and let his historic achievement sink in.
“It’s unbelievable – I can’t describe how it feels. This year’s Dakar has been so difficult, easily the toughest rally of my career. Navigation has been tricky pretty much every day. At the beginning of the race, all the top guys were so close with not much time between us. I just tried to keep on doing well each day without making any mistakes. Things were so tight right up to my stage victory. After that I aimed to finish each day safely and get to the end of the rally without losing my advantage. Luckily the tactics worked out and I’m here at the end now as the winner and it feels unreal. Thank you to my team and everyone that has supported me – we did it!”
Toby Price on podium
Finishing as runner-up on the final stage, Toby Price did everything he could to close down the gap on the riders in front of him. Playing catch up following an unfortunate navigational error earlier in the rally, Price’s speed in the final stages of the event have been phenomenal. Toby secured third place in the overall standings, an amazing feat considering the 2018 Dakar is the Australian’s first competitive outing since injury forced him out of the 2017 event.
“The final stage is over and it went really well. I’m happy to get to the finish line, that was always the main goal right from the start. I tried to push today to make up the time on Kevin (Benavides) but halfway through I knew five minutes was just too much and so I just aimed for a safe finish. To finish the Dakar is an achievement in itself, to come away at the end of this year’s race with a podium is unbelievable, especially after the year I’ve had. The whole team have come together and worked so hard, none of us could do it without them. I’ll concentrate on the 2018 season now and try to get a little stronger and come back here next year looking for the top-step.”
Stage 14 – 2018 Dakar Rally
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
2018 Dakar Rally Final Standings
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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