Red Bull KTM Factory rider Matthias Walkner of Austria made it a special day for KTM on Thursday when he took victory in the Sardegna Rally Race, Round Four of the FIM World Cross Countries Rally Championship on the Italian island of Sardinia. Walkner is in his first full season with the KTM Factory Team and is a former MX3 World Champion.
KTM rider Armand Monleon of Spain was second, just two minute 33 behind Walkner. Factory teammate Marc Coma, who continues to lead the points in his quest to defend his World Championship title finished fifth. Places seven to ten all went to KTM riders, giving the Austrian brand seven of the top ten positions. KTM Factory riders Jordi Viladoms and Ruben Faria were at seventh and eighth in the final standings.
Walkner, speaking in the finish area of the rally said that despite the win he had not been completely satisfied with his riding over the first three days “I was very motivated after winning the Super Special on the first day, but I crashed twice the next day. From a riding perspective the Sardegna Rally can’t be compared with desert riding. It has more the characteristic of an Enduro race. He added that the navigation was rather complicated and it was very easy to make a mistake. After I got more used to this situation, I was able to win the stage yesterday and I had to today I again had to start first. I rode alone at the front for over 100 km and I really felt good. I had not reckoned with the overall victory and for this reason I am even more pleased that it all worked out.”
KTM’s Rally Team Manager Alex Doringer was also delighted that Walkner had taken his first victory. â€œTo have an Austrian rider win on an Austrian bike for our Austrian company is something really special for all of us,â€ Doringer said. “This rally is not the easiest, and it’s very different from the usual desert rallies. This is really great for a young rider like Matthias but it also shows that our whole team has put in the hard work. Marc (Coma) our World Championship leader picked up some more valuable points and everyone in the team did a good job in Sardinia”
Also very pleased with Walkner’s victory was his personal mentor and KTM Motorsport Consultant Heinz Kinigadner: “We introduced Matthias to rally about 18 months ago and he was able to win the Hellas Rally in Greece. From this standpoint we can also have a certain satisfaction that he now has taken stage victories and the overall win. To be a good rally rider it is now important that he gets in the racing kilometers and he will have that chance at the next rounds of the World Championship at the Atacama Rally in late August and the Oillibya Rally in Early October.”
The next round in the FIM World Championship is the Atacama Rally in Chile, August 30-September 9, 2015.