Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Sam Sunderland has finished as runner-up on a fast, technical stage three of the 2018 Atacama Rally, elevating himself to fourth overall in the provisional overall standings. Team-mate Toby Price completed the stage inside the top-five with Matthias Walkner in 10th.

The 259.27km timed special on stage three of the Atacama Rally proved to be one of the most challenging to navigate of the rally so far. Delayed once again due to local weather conditions, the KTM riders completed the loop north of Copiapó in just over three hours.

Sam Sunderland: “I’m getting used to the road book a little more…”

Setting off second in the morning following his performance on the previous day’s stage, Sam Sunderland immediately pushed hard to try and close the gap on Kevin Benavides ahead of him. Despite the tough terrain and challenging navigation, the Brit was able to maintain a strong pace and close down the gap to his competitors.

Sam Sunderland: “I enjoyed the stage today, I was a little worried that running near the front would result in me losing some time but I was able to push pretty hard straight from the start. About 50km in there was a tricky spot to find and I spent a little time searching, but I think everyone had the same issue. I am starting to feel more comfortable on the bike and I’m getting used to the road book a little more. Tomorrow I’ll push again and try to climb even higher in the standings.”

Toby Price: “I am pleased with my pace over the majority of the stage.”

Toby Price successfully defended his third place overall with another strong performance on stage three. Maintaining a solid pace throughout the technically difficult stage Price again posted the third fastest time and hopes to carry that form into tomorrow’s stage four.

Toby Price: “I felt pretty good today, navigation was tricky and there was one waypoint in particular that was hard to find. I did lose a little time on that one but overall, I am pleased with my pace over the majority of the stage. The pace at the front is really fast and it’s tricky to make up any time but I’ll keep on riding consistently and hopefully have another good day tomorrow.”

Matthias Walkner: “Today’s stage was possibly the toughest of the rally for me so far.”

Fourth rider away this morning Matthias Walkner, like many of his competitors, found the navigation challenging. Keeping to a solid pace however, the reigning Dakar Rally champion rode another strong day finishing inside the top-10. Pleased with the performance of his KTM 450 RALLY, Walkner now hopes to claw back time on the leaders over the final two stages.

Matthias Walkner: “Today’s stage was possibly the toughest of the rally for me so far. Like the others I lost some time early on through navigation and then again closer to the finish. It’s a little frustrating because I know I am riding well and the bike feels great. On a positive note, today’s finish gives me a good start for tomorrow so I’ll try my best to make up some time.”

Stage four, the penultimate of the rally, is the second longest at a total of 371.39km. The 253.54km timed special will again test the competitors’ fitness and navigation skills over a mixture of terrain in the Chilean desert. (source: red bull ktm factory racing)

STORY: Strong outing for KTM riders on stage 2

LINK: Atacama Rally

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