Matthias Walkner, KTM, has won the second motorcycling stage by grabbing victory from the hands of Ricky Brabec in the last kilometres of the special, beating the American by 22 seconds after having ridden the entire special in the Honda rider’s wake.
The title holder has thus sent out a strong message to his rivals. Joan Barreda, Honda, keeps the lead in the general standings thanks to his third-placed finish today.
The stage between Pico and San Juan de Marcona included a 352 km special and was the first real test of the Peru dunes for the competitors.
Walkner and Brabec was able to handle the difficult circumstances and never seemed to be bothered by any of the other riders. All the top contenders were in the top eight at the end of the stage and the expectation is that it is going to be a very closely run rally.
The top ten riders to finish the stage were:
|3||005||J. BARREDA BORT||003:25:38||00:01:41||00:00:00|
|7||004||A. VAN BEVEREN||003:33:02||00:09:05||00:00:00|
With only 40 km of the special in the dunes left, the battle for the stage victory was more uncertain than ever! Matthias Walkner had closed to within just 3 seconds of Ricky Brabec. Joan Barreda was still in 3rd place, two minutes behind.
In the end Walkner was able to get past Brabec and take the stage win by eight seconds.
There are three Honda’s in the top ten, and three KTM models. The talk this year was whether the Honda bikes would be able to break the hold the KTM has had on the event for the past 17 years.
But the rally has just started and there is still a long way and a lot of dunes to conquer before the finish.
Full report tomorrow.