Matthias Walkner wins Rally Dakar 2018

January 16, 2018

Austrian KTM rider Matthias Walkner has won the Dakar Rally. Already in the 10th stage, Walkner took the lead and did not give it up until the end.

With the 2018 edition, the motorcycling world has certainly experienced one of the most exciting Dakar rallies of recent years. The always-present theoretical possibility that a brand other than KTM picks up the title, became a real option with the crash-off for defending champion Sam Sunderland (KTM) in the fourth stage. For many stages the race was completely open.

Yamaha man Adrien Van Beveren grabbed the lead and drove a smart race following Sunderland’s crash, who had to be flown to the hospital for examination. Three kilometers from the finish of the tenth stage Van Beveren crashed off the race himself.
Now Matthias Walkner took over. The 31-year-old from Salzburg/Austria had been in the lead group right from the start and knew his chance to take advantage of Van Beverens retirement. While Antoine Meo, Toby Price and Kevin Benavides followed a wrong track and lost a lot of time, Walkner navigated precisely and secured the overall lead with the stage win.

One crash too much afforded the Honda hotspur and eternal title aspirant Joan Barreda. After he was able to win the marathon stage despite a crash, the Spaniard was for the count since then and could himself keep in the saddle only hold with pain Another crash in stage 11th stage then meant the off.

His team mate Kevin Benavides thus fell to the task of saving the honor of the Honda racing department HRC. The Argentinian proved to be worthy of the task and rode for the Japanese a second overall place with only 16 minutes behind Walkner. Given this performance, it seems bearable for Honda that ranks three to five went back to KTM (to the factory team resp. the Spanish team Himoinsa).

The reigning rally champion Pablo Quintanilla was never really able to compete for the title during n this Dakar. And so the Husqvarna rider finished in 10th position.

A nice detail that could encourage smaller manufacturers is the sixth place overall for Frenchman Johnny Aubert on a bike build up by the small Spanish factory of Gas Gas.

Once again the weather turned out to be problematic. Two stages had to be canceled because of unfavorable conditions. The ninth section was canceled due to heavy rainfall, which made it impossible for the service vehicles to get through. The twelfth stage was canceled as a precaution in the face of dense fog, which prevented the rescue helicopters from starting.

Originally conceived as a race for the cool and dry seasons in the deserts of the northern hemisphere, since the change to South America the Rally Dakar takes place in the summer of the southern hemisphere, which is characterized by hard-to-predict weather conditions.

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