Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Matthias Walkner has placed third on the short, final stage of the 2022 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Toby Price, who was the second rider to enter the special finished in 10th. In the overall classification, both riders completed the event inside the top five, with Price finishing fourth and Walkner one place behind in fifth.
Covering a total distance of 371 kilometers, stage five at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge included a short but demanding 209-kilometer timed special. Offering up the now familiar mix of dunes and faster, sandy tracks, the final day of racing at the 2022 ADDC still proved a sizeable task for all racers.
Matthias Walkner was the 13th rider to enter today’s special, and making the best use of his skill and start position, the reigning world champion was able to immediately make up time on the riders ahead. Second quickest to the first timed checkpoint, Walkner maintained his strong pace throughout the stage to ultimately complete the stage as third fastest. The result placed Matthias fifth overall, eight and a half minutes down on the rally winner.
Matthias Walkner: “I’m super happy to finish the rally with a strong result and without any big problems. Any race like this that is held 90% off piste is a huge challenge and you have to stay at maximum focus the whole time. I finished third on today’s stage for fifth overall, which is good, but sometimes the final result doesn’t show the full story. I’m really happy with how I rode here in Abu Dhabi, especially with my navigation while opening the stage. We have made some good changes to the bike too, so all-in-all we’re moving in the right direction.”
After his runner-up result on yesterday’s stage four, Toby Price was second away into today’s timed special. Catching up with the single rider ahead of him by around kilometer 80, the Australian assisted in opening the remainder of the stage. In completing the final stage in 10th, Price secured his top-five result in the overall rally standings, claiming fourth, 14 seconds ahead of teammate Walkner after 17 hours of racing.
Toby Price: “I’m pleased with how the race has gone. I’m definitely feeling a lot more comfortable on the bike, and was well in the hunt for the podium, which is definitely an improvement over Dakar. It’s been a tough event and I’m definitely feeling a little bruised and battered right now, but I’ve completed the race in more or less one piece. I got off on the wrong foot on day one with the GPS issue, but that’s out of our control. And the result still isn’t quite where I want to be, but the team has done a great job and we’ve learned a lot from the event. I’ve got a few things to work on before the next race, so we’ll go away now and get ready for the next round.”
Following the technical issue that plagued his day-four result, Kevin Benavides had a late 26th place start to today’s stage. Eager to make up time and end his 2022 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge on a high, the 2021 Dakar winner pushed hard through all of the 209 kilometers that made up the special, ultimately finishing as fourth quickest. Despite the time lost and penalty incurred on day four, Benavides was able to salvage a highly commendable 13th place overall, and will take many positives from the event.
Kevin Benavides: “It’s been a tough race, and a little disappointing obviously because of the issue I had yesterday, but I’m pleased that up until that point I was in the fight for the win. It always feels good to complete a race and I managed to do a good job with my navigation all the way through, as well as avoiding any big crashes, so physically I feel good. It’s been a really good test of my speed and I have definitely found more pace when riding in the dunes, so all-in-all the event has been positive. We have some work to do now before the next race, so hopefully I can come back even stronger in Andalucia.”
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing will next be in action at the Andalucia Rally, held in Spain from June 6.
Provisional Results – Stage 5 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2022
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), GASGAS, 2:20:57
2. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 2:21:31 +0:34
3. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 2:22:08 +1:11
4. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 2:24:12 +3:15
5. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Honda, 2:24:30 +3:33
10 Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 2:27:32 +6:35
Provisional Standings – Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2022 after 5 of 5 stages
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), GASGAS, 16:54:24
2. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 16:57:32 +3:08
3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Honda, 16:58:20 +3:56
4. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 17:02:41 +8:17
5. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 17:02:55 +8:31
13. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 18:02:34 +1:08:10