Stage Four of the rally completed the tough marathon stages, where riders camped overnight in a desert bivouac with no outside assistance from team mechanics. With the two stages totalling close to 600 kilometres, conservation of bikes and tyres was imperative for riders looking to successfully finish the two days and secure a strong result.

Toby Price: “We had to ride intelligently today.”

Over the course of the marathon stage riders were presented with a mixture of terrain including the fast, rocky tracks often seen during the rally so far and the soft sand dunes of the Sahara Desert. With his bike performing perfectly, Toby Price pushed hard on the rough, Moroccan ground. Setting off sixth, the Australian was able to catch and pass every rider ahead of him except for teammate Sunderland.

Toby Price: “The marathon stage went very well. It has been quite tricky – yesterday’s stage was harder on our tyres than expected, so we had to ride intelligently today. I made a small mistake yesterday but was lucky enough to find my way quickly again, that gave me a perfect start position for today. I navigated through the stage really well and made up some good time. The bike was great and handled everything really well, the balance in all of the riding conditions is perfect – thanks to the WP Suspension guys for that. One more day to go now, so we’ll see where we end up and hopefully claim a good result for the rally.”

Pablo Quintanilla: “Some parts of the special were tricky and confusing…”

Putting in his best individual stage performance at this year’s Morocco Rally, Pablo Quintanilla has earned a strong runner-up result on Monday’s stage four of the event. Gaining back more of the time lost during the challenging stage one, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider has reduced the time gap to the provisional top-three in the overall standings.

Pablo Quintanilla: “This Marathon stage was tough for me. I have been struggling with a cold these last few days and yesterday I felt the effects on my body. I did my best despite this set-back and I am happy I finished this Marathons stage without any problems. Today I pushed more and managed to put in a great time in the special test. Some parts of the special were tricky and confusing but I tried to retain a good pace and make up for the time lost on stage one. I’m now fourth in the overall and we have one more stage to go. I’ll try to get some rest this evening and the goal is to get back stronger tomorrow and continue pushing until the last kilometre.”

Sam Sunderland: “It’s nice to finish the marathon stage.”

Following his Stage Three win, Sam Sunderland led the riders away from the bivouac this morning. The 2017 Dakar Rally Champion opened the stage from start-to-finish, never headed by the riders behind. Sunderland’s finishing time placed him third, less than one-minute behind the stage runner-up.

Sam Sunderland: “It’s nice to finish the marathon stage. I was fastest yesterday and had a really good feeling on the bike. I did make a couple of mistakes but kept to a good rhythm and managed to get the stage win. Today I set off first, which is always a challenge, especially in the dunes as it’s easy for the guys behind to follow, but I still managed to reach the finish first. That’s encouraging, especially as things like the tyres were worn out after such a long distance. The bike feels really good and I’m happy with my riding, it’s just a shame I lost so much time on Saturday.”

Matthias Walkner: “I was feeling especially tired today and wasn’t 100%.”

Finishing fifth on the day’s stage, Matthias Walkner now lies second in the provisional overall rally standings with one day left to race. Walkner rode a solid Stage Four, but a small error cost the Austrian rider a number of valuable minutes, ultimately dropping him down the order. Nevertheless, his fifth place start for Tuesday’s final stage will be an advantage in the battle to secure a podium place.

Matthias Walkner: “Yesterday went really good – I opened the whole piste and still finished second. I feel it cost me a lot of energy though, especially mentally, I was feeling especially tired today and wasn’t 100%. Today everything was good up to the refuelling point at 250 kilometres, after that I made a silly mistake where I went off-track and lost seven or eight minutes. It was my own fault but it’s frustrating as I know my speed is good. In the end I tried my best and mistakes can happen. I’ll try again tomorrow and aim to finish on the podium.”

Tuesday’s fifth and final stage of the Rally du Maroc, will see riders leave the Saharan town of Erfoud and head north, back to the city of Fes in northern Morocco. The long 457-kilometre stage will include two timed specials, one measuring 128 kilometres and a second at just 70 kilometres.

STORY: Toby Price Wins 2018 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship
STORY: Sam Sunderland Fastest On First Half Of Rally Du Maroc Marathon Stage

LINK: Rally du Maroc
LINK: Husqvarna Motorcycles

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