Well-rested after the demanding 2022 Dakar Rally and highly motivated to return to competitive action, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing are fired up and once again focused on success as they ready themselves for the second round of the 2022 FIM Rally-Raid World Championship, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
Coming just seven weeks after the world’s toughest race served up two weeks of arduous racing in Saudi Arabia at the start of January, Matthias Walkner, Kevin Benavides, and Toby Price are all fit, healthy, and ready to race at the ADDC. Faced with one short prologue this coming Saturday, all riders will then battle their way through five short but challenging sandy stages.
Third in the 2022 FIM Rally-Raid World Championship standings following his podium finish at the Dakar Rally, defending world champion Matthias Walkner enters the ADDC in high spirits following several weeks of post-Dakar recovery. Very much a fan of the sandy Abu Dhabi terrain and having enjoyed positive results at the ADDC in previous years, Walkner is focused on success and a solid haul of world championship points.
Matthias Walkner: “The Abu Dhabi rally is always a super-nice event, and I’m really looking forward to racing it this year and getting back into competition again after Dakar. I think that like a lot of riders I took some time off the bike after Dakar, so apart from a few days training before the race this rally will be my first time back on a bike. This event has been good for me before, so I am hoping to get another good result. Importantly, as the second round of the world championship, I want to get the most points I can.”
Kevin Benavides, like teammate Walkner, comes into the 2022 ADDC well-rested and highly motivated. Frustratingly denied the Dakar result he deserved, Kevin will participate in the ADDC determined to show exactly what he is capable of on the unique, sandy terrain. Clocking up day-after-day of fast and consistent performances throughout January’s Dakar Rally, Kevin will look to carry his impressive speed into the ADDC and challenge for the top of the podium.
Kevin Benavides: “I’m really motivated for this year’s Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. After the Dakar I took a break, took some time off the bike to recharge my batteries a little, and now I’m really looking forward to getting back to competition. The terrain here is very special, and, well, like always I will give my best. The competition will be very strong, but I am just focused on doing my best and pushing hard to get the best result I can.”
Competing alongside Matthias Walkner and Kevin Benavides, Toby Price will complete the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing trio competing in the ADDC as the veteran Australian competitor looks to carry the speed that took him to a stage win at the Dakar into round two of the world championship. The experienced 34-year-old missed the delayed 2021 event, but plans to attack this year’s race and hopefully repeat the performance that took him to the win at the 2016 edition of the demanding rally.
Toby Price: “It’s been a little while since I’ve been here to the Desert Challenge so I’m looking forward to it. It’s always a challenging rally because of the sandy terrain and the unpredictable nature of some parts of the course, so you always have to be a little cautious and take your time with everything. But it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to taking. Obviously, as the second round of the world championship it’s an important race, so I’m looking to try and pick up a solid result and build some good momentum in the championship.”
The 2022 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge starts on Saturday, March 5 with the event’s short prologue, before five full stages will take the event to its conclusion on Thursday, March 10.