Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders Toby Price, Matthias Walkner and Luciano Benavides have successfully completed stage four of the 2019 Rally du Maroc. KTM Factory Racing’s Laia Sanz and Mario Patrao are also ready to race Wednesday’s final stage.
Stage four of the 2019 Rally du Maroc, although cut down from its initial length, still presented a huge challenge to all competitors with 311 kilometres of mixed terrain through the Moroccan desert. Riders once again received their road books just minutes before entering the stage ensuring navigation was key to securing a good result.
Topping the previous day, Toby Price had the unenviable task of opening the penultimate stage of the rally. Arriving first at the stage’s more challenging sections, Price lost valuable minutes to ultimately finish 15th fastest. However, lying a strong fifth overall going into the final stage and with an advantageous start position, the Australian will be aiming to make up that time lost and secure a strong finish.
Toby Price: “It wasn’t the greatest day for me today and the results don’t really reflect our performance. Things were going really well this morning but right before the fuel stop the road book didn’t really include all the information we needed and the road that was meant to be there had been washed away. I spent a lot of time trying to figure that out and by the time I had found the way the other guys had all caught up. Overall, I’m really pleased with how I’m riding – I feel good and we have a nice set-up ahead of Dakar. Joe my mechanic has been doing some really good work on the bike so I’m happy.”
Similarly, Matthias Walkner was also one of the first riders to encounter the various challenges of stage four, with a small crash also disrupting the Austrian’s rhythm on the long stage. Placing 14th, one position ahead of Price, Walkner goes into the final day in seventh place overall and will be keen to close down on the front runners ahead of him.
Matthias Walkner: “The first 100 kilometres went really well, Toby was doing an excellent job of opening and we were making good time I think. Unfortunately, I had a crash that hurt my shoulder and knee a little but I was able to carry on. As we have seen before, a few issues with the road book meant we lost a lot of time to the guys coming from behind. It’s always like this but it gets more frustrating when there are some things missing. I’m feeling really good and the bike is performing perfectly. We have one more day to race tomorrow so I’m looking forward to the finish and hopefully make up a little time on the final stage.”
Finishing as top Red Bull KTM rider once again, Luciano Benavides put in a solid performance to claim 13th position for the stage. In the overall standings, the young Argentinian lies sixth, in between teammates Price and Walkner. With one final stage left to race, Luciano hopes to fight for the podium and top honours in the hotly-contested junior category.
Luciano Benavides: “It was a good stage for me, I felt really good on the bike, but the navigation was very tricky and I ended up losing some time after making a couple of mistakes. The second half of the stage went well – even though there were some really fast sections, I was able to finish safely. I’m still in the battle, looking forward to tomorrow and I hope I can finish strong.”
KTM Factory Racing’s Laia Sanz and Mario Patrao continue to successfully complete each stage without incident. Carrying out vital testing and development of the KTM 450 RALLY, both riders are happy with their performance and look set to claim strong finishes to the demanding five-day event.
Laia Sanz: “It was a tough stage today, but I felt a lot better on the bike than on the other days. My confidence is definitely improving and also the feeling on the bike. The goal here in Morocco was always to bring myself back up to speed and make some positive changes to the bike and I think we have done that. I’m looking forward to tomorrow now and reaching the finish.”
Stage five of the 2019 Rally du Maroc, the final of the event, leads riders north back to the city of Fes for the finish. Of the 456 kilometres covered, 166 will be timed special. Riders will once again face the fast, rocky tracks and high average speeds as seen on the very first stage of the event.
Provisional Results – Stage 4 Rally du Maroc 2019
1. Paulo Goncalves (POR), Hero, 3:37:11
2. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 3:38:09 +58 seconds
3. Andrew Short (USA), Husqvarna, 3:38:41 +1:30
4. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, 3:41:33 +4:22
5. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 3:41:48 +4:37
13. Luciano Benavides (ARG), KTM, 3:49:15 +12:04
14. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 3:53:01 +15:50
15. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 3:55:51 +18:40
19. Laia Sanz (ESP), KTM, 4:01:10 +23:59
25. Mario Patrao (POR), KTM, 4:16:19 +39:08
Provisional Standings – Rally du Maroc 2019 after 4 of 5 stages
1. Andrew Short (USA), Husqvarna, 15:45:25
2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, 15:45:53 +28 seconds
3. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 15:47:31 +2:06
4. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 15:50:29 +5:04
5. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 15:53:30 +8:05