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Dakar : Walkner Wins Stage Two

Stage two of the 2019 Dakar Rally challenged all motorcycle competitors with an extremely fast, and rough, timed special of 342 kilometres. Leaving Pisco and heading south along the coast towards San Juan de Marcona the unusual stage saw the cars opening the route, leaving the bikes to deal with the many tracks ahead of them in the sand. The added traffic not only caused the terrain to cut up badly, but also made navigation even more of a challenge.

Following his solid ride on the short, opening day’s stage, Matthias Walkner was the seventh rider to enter today’s timed special. Feeling comfortable on his KTM 450 RALLY, the reigning Dakar Champion opted to push right from the beginning. For the majority of the stage Walkner chased down Ricky Brabec ahead of him, only to head the American rider in the last 40 kilometres and ultimately claim the stage win by a narrow 22 seconds.

Matthias Walkner: “That was a long and really, really fast stage. It was hard to judge the pace of the riders in front, so early on I decided to push and give my best. It was enough to set the fastest time, which is great but I’m not too keen on stages like that – two or three in a year is enough for me. Crossing the tracks left by the cars on such a tricky stage can be quite daunting sometimes and I’m glad to reach the finish safely.”

Ricky Brabec: The second stage was awesome. More or less like what I’m used to at home. Lot’s of fast track, lots of rocks, fesh fesh and some dunes. I had a fun day, and rode most of the day with Quintanilla. It was great so we’ll see what happens tomorrow. Third overall is not that good. We’ve got to be in front. So we are going to try tomorrow.”

Joan Barreda, who opened the special alone, posted third, 1’41” seconds behind Walkner.

Joan Barreda: “Days like today are really important. When you start out in first position, winning is very difficult. Open the track without making any mistakes throughout the day is really complicated, but these are the days that you really make progress on. At first I doubted as to whether to follow the tracks or not, but in the part on the beach I saw that they were catching me up and following the tracks I was able to push hard with good pace. In the end it turned out to be a perfect stage, with a very good starting position for tomorrow.”

Despite a small mistake that caused him to get stuck early on in the stage, Toby Price went on to post the fourth fastest time of the day, three minutes behind stage winner Walkner. Although still riding in pain due to his injured wrist, Price now sits fifth overall in the provisional overall standings and is determined to maintain his strong pace as the rally progresses.

Toby Price: “Day two was long, 342 kilometres on my wrist was really tough. It didn’t help that I got stuck in a dune around the 50-kilometre mark and had to pull the bike out and turn around. That hurt my wrist a little more but I managed to live with it for the rest of the stage, even though it was really bumpy after the cars had been through. All in all, I’m pretty happy with my time and looking forward to tomorrow.”

Making good use of his vast rally racing experience, Pablo Quintanilla put in a steady but importantly mistake-free performance on Tuesday’s stage two of the Dakar. Pushing hard to gain some time in the opening part of the special, the Chilean rally star eventually finished in fifth place less than four minutes behind the day’s winner Matthias Walkner. Currently fourth in the provisional overall standings, Pablo sits in a very good place ahead of the remainder of the rally.

Pablo Quintanilla: “Stage two was a long and tough one but I had a good feeling on my bike. The pace was quite high from the beginning and we were riding a lot across the beach. I pushed hard in the first part of the special stage. After the refueling the conditions changed a lot. We were following the cars and there were lots of different tracks everywhere, so I decided to keep it steady and avoid taking any risks. I kept a good pace until the end and managed to get a good overall time for the day. The gap to the leaders is still controllable so I am looking ahead to tomorrow’s stage.”

Now sitting sixth, one place behind Price in the overall standings, Sam Sunderland rode another calculated stage, minimising any risks on the heavily worn terrain. Although not quite finding his rhythm on the long timed special, the Brit is still confident that his pace is good and is feeling fit and motivated for the rest of the event.

Sam Sunderland: “It was a pretty tricky stage covering the car lines. You are always cross-checking the road book to make sure you’re not making any mistakes. I didn’t find my rhythm as well as I would have liked, I know my pace wasn’t too bad but I didn’t feel so strong out there. As the speeds were so high today, I decided to ease off a little after the refuel to conserve my tyre. It may be that I didn’t have to, but this early in the rally I’d rather be safe than sorry.”

Working hard to avoid costly mistakes during the stage, Van Beveren posted the seventh best time in Tuesday’s timed special. Currently seventh in the provisional overall rankings, the WR450F Rally powered racer is looking ahead to the coming stages of the rally.

Adrien Van Beveren: “Today we were treated with a fast and difficult stage. There was a lot of fesh-fesh and some parts with loads of stones. It’s quite hard to feel comfortable racing in this terrain but I did my best to stay close to the leaders. There were also lots of tracks from the cars and it was easy to make navigational mistakes. In the dunes I felt good on my bike and managed to gain some time, but overall I had to be patient and try not to make costly mistakes. There’s still a long way to go in this Dakar and I’m now are set on tomorrow’s stage three.”

Monster Energy Honda’s Kevin Benavides finished the stage in eight ahead of Rockstar Husqvarna’s Andrew Short and fellow Honda team mate Nacho Cornejo.

Kevin Benavides: “The idea for today’s stage was to hold on to the position, it was not a day for attacking. The cars opened the track and it was a dangerous stage so I did not feel very comfortable opening the throttle. I preferred to sit back a little as there is still a lot of race ahead. I feel good and I am ready to attack when the opportunity arises.”

Andrew Short: “I had a lot of fun on my bike today. The stage was familiar to me from the previous Dakar. I raced most of the stage by myself. Today we were following the cars and I had to pass many side-by-side vehicles in the dust and that was sketchy. But I really enjoyed the landscapes and to ride full gas next to the ocean. It was something pretty special and I sure made some memories to keep forever. Overall, I’m really happy with where I’m at and I hope I can maintain a decent pace in the stages to come.”

José Ignacio Cornejo: “Today’s stage was a very fast one. We started out behind the cars so there were quite a lot of broken areas with stones under the ground, so I had to take it easy. The idea of these first days is not to take any risks. I hold the same position but I am improving and I am motivated for the following days.”

Results Stage Two

1 WALKNER Matthias 1 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM 03:21’57
2 BRABEC Ricky 15 USA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +00’22
3 BARREDA Joan 5 SPA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +01’41
4 PRICE Toby 3 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +03’06
5 QUINTANILLA Pablo 6 CHI Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Husqvarna +03’24
6 SUNDERLAND Sam 14 GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +06’03
7 VAN BEVEREN Adrien 4 FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +09’03
8 BENAVIDES Kevin 47 ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +09’59
9 SHORT Andrew 29 USA Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Husqvarna +12’25
10 CORNEJO José Ignacio 10 CHI Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +13’43

Provisional Standings after Stage Two

1 BARREDA Joan 5 SPA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda 04:23’14
2 WALKNER Matthias 1 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +01’31
3 BRABEC Ricky 15 USA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +01’33
4 QUINTANILLA Pablo 6 CHI Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Husqvarna +03’17
5 PRICE Toby 3 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +04’33
6 SUNDERLAND Sam 14 GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +07’18
7 VAN BEVEREN Adrien 4 FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +10’19
8 BENAVIDES Kevin 47 ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +12’18
9 CORNEJO José Ignacio 10 CHI Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +17’24
10 SHORT Andrew 29 USA Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Husqvarna +17’37

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