Dakar Stage 2: Brits on form, Walkner wins stage
Pisco to San Juan 212 mile timed Special Stage, 131 mile liaison
Factory Red Bull KTM rider Matthias Walkner got the defence of his Dakar crown off to an impressive start by securing a hard fought victory on stage two of Dakar 2019. The Austrian rider spent the entire 212 mile timed Special Stage battling with Monster Energy Honda rider Ricky Brabec – eventually finishing just 22 seconds ahead of the American.
Walkner said: “That was a long and really, really fast stage. It was hard to judge the pace of the riders in front, so early on I decided to push and give my best. It was enough to set the fastest time, which is great but I’m not too keen on stages like that – two or three in a year is enough for me. Crossing the tracks left by the cars on such a tricky stage can be quite daunting sometimes and I’m glad to reach the finish safely.”
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Stage one winner Joan Barreda consolidated his position at the top of the overall ranking after finishing third on stage two. He retains a lead of 1m 31s over Walkner.
Britain’s Sam Sunderland continued his strong start to this years race, finishing stage two in sixth position after sitting within the top five for the majority of the day. The 29 year old lost 6m 03s to Walkner on the stage and is now sixth, 7m 18s adrift in the overall standings.
Sunderland said: “It was a pretty tricky stage covering the car lines. You are always cross-checking the road book to make sure you’re not making any mistakes. I didn’t find my rhythm as well as I would have liked, I know my pace wasn’t too bad but I didn’t feel so strong out there. As the speeds were so high today, I decided to ease off a little after the refuel to conserve my tyre. It may be that I didn’t have to, but this early in the rally I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
It was another seriously impressive day for Malle Moto rider Max Hunt with the 35 year old Brit finishing first in class and 41ston the stage. Riding with out any team and not allowed any outside assistance he now leads the overall Malle Moto standings and is 42ndoverall.
Hunt said: "That was a long day! It was good though and I'm really happy and a bit surprised to be leading the Malle Moto class. I finished a bit earlier than I expected and the bike is all prepared for tomorrow but I'm shattered now."
Fellow Brit Richard Main also enjoyed a positive day with the Dakar rookie setting the 109thbest time, a result that moved him up from 131stin the overall standings to 112thplace.
Stage three will see riders in for a big day. Leaving San Juan they will cover a total of 495 miles on route to Arequipa, a day that includes a 205 mile timed Special Stage.
Stage 2 results
1 Matthias Walkner KTM 3h 23m 57s
2 Ricky Brabec Honda + 22s
3 Joan Barreda Honda + 1m 41s
4 Toby Price KTM + 3m 06s
5 Pablo Quintanilla Husqvarna + 3m 24s
6 Sam Sunderland KTM + 6m 03s
7 Adrien Van Beveren Yamaha + 9m 05s
8 Kevin Benavides Honda +9m 59s
1 Joan Barreda Honda 4h 23m 14s
2 Matthias Walkner KTM + 1m 31s
3 Ricky Brabec Honda + 1m 33s
4 Pablo Quintanilla Husqvarna + 3m 17s
5 Toby Price KTM + 4m 33s
6 Sam Sunderland KTM + 7m 18s
7 Adrien Van Beveren Yamaha + 10m 19s
8 Kevin Benavides Honda + 12m 18s