Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Matthias Walkner has put in another strong performance at the 2021 Silk Way Rally, racing to fourth place on the relatively short timed special on day two. The Austrian rider now lies third overall, just over three minutes down on the provisional leader.

Stage two of the Silk Way Rally, the last to be contested entirely in Russia, challenged riders with a mix of terrain starting with wide, open tracks before winding its way through more of the forest trails as seen on stage one. A long liaison of 267km led competitors to the start of the 132km timed special, which was then followed by a second, 181km section of liaison before the bivouac in Gorno-Altaisk.

Fifth into today’s stage, Matthias Walkner again looked to keep to a steady pace and not make any mistakes. With the nature of the special calling for all-round riding skill rather than just navigational savvy, Walkner played it safe, bringing his KTM 450 RALLY home in a solid fourth place. Occupying third overall in the provisional standings, just a few minutes from the top, the 2018 Dakar Rally winner will be aiming to maintain his consistency on Sunday’s stage three, before heading into the far longer specials of Mongolia that will likely spread out the field.

Matthias Walkner: “That was one of the nicest stages I have ridden. We spent a lot of time in the forest, but the terrain changed a lot – sometimes it was sandy, sometimes it was stony – it was also quite fast. With some big holes and bumps, along with water-filled ruts, it was very technical in places too, but good fun to ride. You had to take a few risks to keep to a good pace, but overall I enjoyed it. There wasn’t much in the way of navigation, and so I decided it would be difficult to make up a lot of time on such a short special and just kept a good rhythm to the finish. Tomorrow’s stage is still quite short and then we travel into Mongolia tomorrow, which I’m really looking forward to. It looks like things will become a lot tougher from then on.”

The Silk Way Rally continues with day three from Gorno-Altaisk in Russia to Ulgiy in Mongolia. Totaling 666km, the stage will include a 133km timed special that will initially deliver tough, rocky tracks, before opening up into faster mountain passes.

2021 Silk Way Rally – Provisional Results, Stage Two

1. Daniel Sanders (AUS), GASGAS, 1:22:44
2. Ross Branch (BWA), Yamaha, 1:22:50 + 0:06
3. Skyler Howes (USA), Husqvarna, 1:23:41 + 0:57
4. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 1:24:38 +1:54
5. Joaquim Rodrigues (PRT), Hero, 1:25:02 2:18

2021 Silk Way Rally – Provisional Standings (after stage two)

1. Ross Branch (BWA), Yamaha, 2:13:45
2. Franco Caimi (ARG), Hero, 2:16:11 +2:26
3. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 2:17:03 +3:18
4. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 2:18:42 +4:57
5. Sebastian Buhler (GER), Hero, 2:18:48 +5:03