Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price has delivered an outstanding ride on the long timed special on stage three at the Sonora Rally to finish in fourth. The Aussie also lies fourth overall with two days left to race. Safely completing the stage, Matthias Walkner was seventh, with Kevin Benavides bringing his KTM 450 RALLY home in 13th.
Fourth into the stage, Toby Price pushed right from the start and moved into the lead on time by kilometer 175. With the special offering little in the way of demanding navigation, times were incredibly tight across the top three with just 20 seconds separating them at kilometer 314, after well over three hours of racing.
Unfortunately for Toby, this meant that despite his pace over the slippery Mexican tracks, he was not eligible for any time bonuses today. And with the provisional day-three winner accumulating close to seven minutes of bonus time, the final results saw Toby finish in a somewhat discouraging fourth place. However, the strong stage result elevates the two-time Dakar Champion from ninth to fourth overall, where he trails the rally leader by just under 17 minutes.
Toby Price: “Not such a bad stage today – I’m here in one piece at the finish after a long and very fast day of racing. It’s a little frustrating as there must have only been about 30 kilometers over the whole day where you actually had to take care of your navigation, the rest was just fire roads and riverbeds. I tried to make up time on the guys in front, but the bonus is a big advantage on these kind of stages. All-in-all I kept it on two wheels, so I’m happy with that.”
Maintaining a solid and consistent pace throughout the stage, Matthias Walkner set off 10th but was able to move himself up into seventh place by the finish, just over 10 minutes down on the leader. Pleased with his own performance and that of his KTM 450 RALLY over the challenging rocky tracks, Matthias now looks ahead to the two final days of racing in Mexico and a safe finish to what is his return to competition following the injury he sustained earlier in the year at Dakar.
Matthias Walkner: “Honestly, I enjoyed the riding a lot today. At the beginning I was a little bit cautious with full tanks because there were some really soft and bumpy pistes and it was easy to get out of shape. After that, I was able to find my rhythm a bit better and gave my best for the rest of the stage. Without the bonuses, I think I lost around three minutes to Daniel (Sanders), so I’m pleased with that – he’s doing an amazing job at the front. Overall, I’m enjoying the event and looking forward to the last two days.”
Also using the Sonora Rally to build his speed and strength following injury, Kevin Benavides opted for a solid finish on today’s stage. In finishing 13th on stage three, Kevin lies 10th overall in the provisional standings.
Kevin Benavides: “It was a really long day today – three and a half hours on the bike and the terrain was very physical too, with around 200 kilometers of sandy tracks with camel grass and whoops. For sure, it wasn’t the best for my leg, but I just tried to stay on the bike and push in the places where the stage was clean. I’m happy because that’s another stage done, and we just have two more now before the finish. The team have been excellent as always and the bike is feeling great.”
Provisional Results – 2023 Sonora Rally, Stage 3
1. Daniel Sanders (AUS), GASGAS, 3:25:08
2. Tosha Schareina (ESP), Honda, 3:31:46 +6:38
3. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 3:31:48 +6:40
4. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 3:32:48 +7:40
5. Luciano Benavides (ARG), Husqvarna, 3:33:30 +8:22
7. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 3:35:38 +10:30
13. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 3:41:36 +16:28
Provisional Standings – 2023 Sonora Rally (after 3 of 5 stages)
1. Daniel Sanders (AUS), GASGAS, 7:12:07
2. Tosha Schareina (ESP), Honda, 7:19:06 +6:59
3. Luciano Benavides (ARG), Husqvarna, 7:27:18 +15:11
4. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 7:28:49 +16:42
5. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Honda, 7:29:24 +17:17
6. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 7:29:42 +17:35
10. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 7:38:19 +26:12