Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Matthias Walkner has put in an excellent performance on stage three of the 2020 Andalucia Rally, covering the 230 kilometers of timed special in less than two hours to finish as provisional runner-up. Teammates Daniel Sanders and Toby Price successfully completed the day’s racing in ninth and 10th respectively.
Shortened for safety reasons, stage three of the Andalucia Rally saw riders complete the first 114 kilometers as planned before leaving the special and rejoining at kilometer 183. As such, the initial 300-kilometer timed special was reduced to 230 kilometers of racing, through the winding, hilly tracks east of Seville.
Capitalizing on his later start time, Red Bull KTM’s Matthias Walkner immediately pushed right from the start of Friday’s shortened stage, clocking the fastest time to the waypoint at kilometer 41. From then on, the Austrian held a strong pace through the remaining 200 kilometers, never falling from the top two. Earning provisional second on the day moves Matthias up to seventh in the overall standings with only Saturday’s stage four left to race.
Matthias Walkner: “It was a really nice day today – I enjoyed the riding more than I have so far this rally, there was a lot more grip on the stage than previous days. I did have one moment where I hit a rock that was hidden in the grass, that gave me a little scare, but apart from that, all went well. Like a lot of people today, I found a few issues with the road book, but when I reached the finish, my time was good. We were told there might be an issue with my GPS today, so we’ll have to wait a little longer for the final result. For now though, I’m happy.”
Posting the ninth-fastest time on the day’s special, KTM Factory Racing’s Daniel Sanders showed he is more than capable of staying with the top riders in the sport, despite his relative inexperience. Riding without mistakes, the 26-year-old put in a mature performance to give himself a strong start position for tomorrow’s final stage.
Daniel Sanders: “I achieved my goal today of completing the stage in a good time and without any penalties. There were some modifications in today’s road book and as I’m still learning to deal with all the navigation, I found these a little confusing but it’s all part of the experience. I started really well and was able to push for a lot of the special. Eventually I caught up to three riders ahead of me and it was too difficult to pass cleanly, so I rode the last 50 or 60 kilometers at a solid pace and just kept things safe, hopefully for a strong finish tomorrow.”
Setting a solid pace on the fast, dusty Spanish tracks, Toby Price continues to follow his goal of a good, safe finish at the Andalucia Rally. Again, riding without mishap, the Aussie star placed 10th on the stage and now lies a strong fifth in the overall standings, due in part to being awarded time for issues on the stage one special that he encountered while opening on Wednesday.
Toby Price: “Stage three went quite well for me. I made one small navigation mistake, but again it seems like most riders suffered the same issue with things not quite matching up with the road book. Generally though, the road book today has been spot on. On the whole, I’m feeling good, the bike is performing perfectly and we’re happy with our pace so far. One day left now, so bring on tomorrow!”
Stage four of the 2020 Andalucia Rally, the final of this year’s event, will see riders tackle 233 kilometers of riding, including two timed specials that make up the 210 kilometers raced against the clock. The initial section is a repeat of the 110-kilometer route seen on stage one, that is then followed by another 100-kilometer loop that brings competitors back to the bivouac at Villamartin and the checkered flag.
Provisional Results Stage Three – 2020 Andalucia Rally
1. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 1:47:28
2. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 1:51:04 +3:36
3. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 1:51:13 +3:45
4. Xavier de Soultrait (FRA), Husqvarna, 1:51:51 + 4:23
5. Skyler Howes (USA), KTM, 1:52:20 +4:52
9. Daniel Sanders (AUS), KTM, 1:53:55 +6:27
10. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 1:54:42 +7:14
Provisional Standings (after stage three) – 2020 Andalucia Rally
1. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 8:15:33
2. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 8:22:11 +6:38
3. Lorenzo Santolino (ESP), Sherco, 8:24:12 +8:40
4. Franco Caimi (FRA), Yamaha, 8:29:01 +13:28
5. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 8:30:53 +15:20
7. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 8:34:11 +18:38
13. Daniel Sanders (AUS), KTM, 8:45:05 +29:32