Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price has made a solid start to his 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 campaign, posting the fourth fastest time on stage one of the event. Matthias Walkner lost time after damaging his rear mousse and was forced to ease his pace in the second half of the special. The KTM 450 RALLY rider placed 28th.
The 2023 Desafio Ruta 40's opening stage began early at the La Rioja bivouac, with riders set for a long day ahead. Covering a total distance of nearly 700 kilometers, the stage included a 333-kilometer timed special. Gravel tracks made up much of the route with little in the way of navigation required. The stage still posed a sizeable challenge however, with the riders’ endurance and focus tested to the maximu
Sixth on the short opening prologue stage, Toby Price was the seventh rider to enter today’s special. Maintaining a smooth, solid pace throughout, the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship leader delivered a solid ride to ultimately post the fourth fastest time. With competitors earning bonus time for leading out on tomorrow’s stage two, Price will be eager to quickly catch and pass the three riders ahead of him to gain the absolute maximum advantage.
Toby Price: “Stage one complete at the Desafio Ruta 40. I had a good feeling with the bike all day today, the only problem was the fact that most of the stage was raced on really fast, rocky tracks. With the Baja tire, it was all about managing that all day really. With around 80 kilometers to go, I could feel the mousse was getting soft, so I really had to back off and that cost me some time. It seems a few guys had some issues so it’s not ideal. Other than that, I’m happy with the day and there’s plenty more riding to go yet.”
Following a strong start to the stage this morning that saw Matthias Walkner lie fourth overall at kilometer 170, an issue with his rear mousse resulted in the rear tire slipping on the rim. Struggling with traction, Matthias limped to the finish, losing significant time over the last 100 kilometers. Despite the setback, Walkner will be looking to reset for tomorrow’s stage two and make the best use of his later start position to push hard over the stage.
Matthias Walkner: “Yeah, not the best day for me, it’s pretty frustrating. Honestly, I felt really good on the bike, and my pace was good over the first part of the stage. I did feel something early on and maybe I hit a rock and damaged the tire, but by around kilometer 150 I knew something was wrong and I really struggled from then on. Soon after that, my mousse was gone, and I had to complete the stage with just the tire on the rim. I was on the bike for 10 hours today and lost 50 minutes on the others, but I’m happy to get to the finish safely. It means there’s not much I can do for my overall result during the rest of the rally, but I’ll take it stage-by-stage and keep giving my best.”
Provisional Results – 2023 Desafio Ruta 40, Stage 1
1. Tosha Schareina (ESP), Honda, 3:00:12
2. Luciano Benavides (ARG), Husqvarna, 3:00:29 +0:17
3. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 3:01:45 +1:33
4. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 3:03:29 +3:17
5. Ross Branch (BWA), Hero, 3:03:38 +3:26
28. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 3:45:31 +45:19
Provisional Standings – 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 (after 1 of 5 stages)
1. Tosha Schareina (ESP), Honda, 3:55:00
2. Luciano Benavides (ARG), Husqvarna, 3:55:01 +0:01
3. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 3:56:09 +1:09
4. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 3:58:17 +3:17
5. Ross Branch (BWA), Hero, 3:59:06 +4:06
23. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 4:40:11 +45:11