Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Matthias Walkner has delivered another strong day in the sand at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, this time claiming a provisional runner-up result on the penultimate stage of the race. With one day left at this final round of the 2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, Walkner leads the overall standings by close to four minutes.
Including the shortest timed special of the event at just over 250 kilometers, day four of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge presented another technically demanding and physically exhausting route, beginning with soft sand dunes before flattening out into faster, rocky tracks.
As runner-up on stage three, Matthias Walkner entered the day’s special second, aiming to chase down and catch Daniel Sanders ahead of him. Reaching his opponent just before the refueling point, the two then completed the latter half of the stage together, pushing each other to maintain a solid pace through the sands of the Liwa Desert.
Despite opening much of the special, Walkner was able to deliver a performance strong enough to ultimately finish less than one minute behind the eventual stage winner. The world champion’s speed and consistency throughout the rally have resulted in him increasing his advantage at the close of day four to almost four minutes, with just the fifth and final stage remaining.
Matthias Walkner: “Another really cool, enjoyable day. I pushed right from the start and was able to catch Daniel by around kilometer 100, and from there, the two of us rode together, swapping the lead for the rest of the stage. It seemed to work out well as I was able to put in a good time, despite opening a lot of the stage from the front. I have a good lead and a good start position for stage five, but there is still work to do. I’ll head out and try to enjoy it tomorrow, hopefully put in a good result and secure the win. I’m definitely looking forward to reaching the finish!”
Stage five of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the last of this year’s rally, covers a total distance of 379.86 kilometers and will see riders take on a timed special of 216.92 kilometers.
Provisional Results – Stage 4 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2021
1. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 3:10:02
2. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 3:10:56 +54 seconds
3. Joaquim Rodrigues (POR), Hero, 3:13:00 +2:58
4. Daniel Sanders (AUS), GASGAS, 3:13:48 +3:46
5. Aaron Mare (RSA), KTM, 3:21:30 +11:28
Provisional Standings – Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2021 after 4 of 5 stages
1. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 15:05:20
2. Daniel Sanders (AUS), GASGAS, 15:09:10 +3:49
3. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 15:10:06 +4:45
4. Joaquim Rodrigues (POR), Hero, 15:33:53 +28:32
5. Aaron Mare (RSA), KTM, 16:21:36 +1:16:15