Danilo Petrucci has finished as the top KTM rider on today’s fast and long stage four, claiming an outstanding third-place result. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Matthias Walkner brought his KTM 450 RALLY home in eighth place, to move up to second in the provisional overall standings, with Kevin Benavides finishing 16th, and Toby Price 30th.
Arguably the toughest stage of the 2022 Dakar Rally so far, the timed special on day four covered an exhausting 465 kilometers of fast tracks and more technical rocky sections and river crossings. Leaving the bivouac in Al Qaisumah early this morning, riders faced a cold liaison section that led them to the start of the special.
Setting off 22nd, Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Danilo Petrucci immediately felt comfortable with the high pace and tricky-to-navigate tracks at the beginning of the special. Finding himself racing in a group of three, the likeable Italian was able to match the pace of his more experienced competitors and complete the grueling stage without issue. Claiming a top-three stage result in not only his first Dakar but his first ever rally-raid is a huge achievement and is testament to Petrucci’s skill and focus. Although the former road racer is not eligible to feature in the overall classification due to his DNF on stage two, he will still take every opportunity to deliver his best results and build his experience as the race continues, starting with tomorrow’s stage five where he will start near the front.
Danilo Petrucci: “It was a really fast stage today with some very fast pistes. I was able to ride in a group and had a lot of fun, I really enjoyed it. It was such a long stage but fortunately I didn’t make any mistakes and was able to find a good rhythm. I learned a lot today too, so now I’m really excited for tomorrow and the rest of the event.”
Red Bull KTM’s Matthias Walkner put in another strong ride, claiming a solid eighth place on the tough special. This result, and Matthias’ string of consistent finishes, moves the Austrian up to second overall in the rally standings – just three minutes exactly from the lead. With an advantageous starting position for Thursday’s stage five, the reigning FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion will be looking to further close that gap.
Matthias Walkner: “The navigation was tricky today. The pace was fast and so the notes in the roadbook were coming really quickly, you had to be really precise on your heading as there were many changes of direction. In the end, I rode in a good group with Kevin Benavides and Adrian Van Beveren, and we kept good speed to the finish without making any mistakes. Overall, even though it was such a long stage it went really quickly because we were pushing for the whole time. It was fun and I enjoyed the day.”
Maintaining his position inside the top 10 in the overall standings, Kevin Benavides also delivered a quality ride on stage four to place 16th. Using his extensive skill and experience to navigate through the technically demanding stage, Benavides kept up a strong, but measured, pace to minimize any mistakes and bring his KTM 450 RALLY home safely. The Argentinian racer will now be looking to make the best use of his start position on tomorrow's 341-kilometer special to move further up the event rankings.
Kevin Benavides: “It was a really hard day today. For the first 100 kilometers it was really cold out there – my hands were frozen so I couldn’t ride so good. After that I began to feel a little better and was able to push. It was a very fast day again today, but this time with a lot of navigation. The last section of the stage was especially very tough. I think I did a good job and I’m happy with that.”
As the third rider into the long special, Toby Price soon found himself riding at the front and opening much of the stage. Despite the difficult navigation and mixed terrain, the two-time Dakar champion was able to stay consistent and lose the minimum of time on his rivals. Completing the stage in 30th, Toby currently lies 16th in the provisional overall standings.
Toby Price: “Stage four hasn’t gone too badly. Setting off near the front meant we lost a bit of time, but we expected that, especially after such a long stage. All-in-all I got through the stage pretty well, I made a couple of small mistakes, but was able to keep a good pace and a good rhythm, so happy days.”
Provisional Results Stage Four (overall) – 2022 Dakar Rally
1. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 4:06:06
2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Honda, 4:10:43 +4:37
3. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), KTM, 4:12:59 +6:53
4. Rui Goncalves (POR), Sherco, 4:14:05 +8:56
5. Lorenzo Santolino (ESP), Sherco, 4:15:02 +8:56
8. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 4:17:51 +11:45
16. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 4:23:48 +17:42
30. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 4:33:36 +27:30
Provisional Standings – 2022 Dakar Rally after 4 of 12 stages
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), GASGAS, 15:30:01
2. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 16:33:01 +3:00
3. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 15:34:55 +4:54
4. Daniel Sanders (AUS), GASGAS, 15:37:08 +7:07
5. Lorenzo Santolino (ESP), Sherco, 15:40:29 +10:28
10. Kevin Benavides (ARG), KTM, 15:55:13 +25:12
16. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 16:13:37 +43:36