With stage five of the rally comprising some of the most varied terrain seen so far, the final day’s racing was always going to be one of the most vital. Despite being the shortest at 200.48km, Friday’s timed special still threw up a few surprises for the competitors with its mixture of sandy trails, river beds and salt flats.

Toby Price

Following their one-two finish on Thursday’s penultimate stage, the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing duo of Matthias Walkner and Toby Price were first away this morning on the route from Villa Union to the finish at San Juan. Putting in a storming performance on the treacherous Argentinian tracks, Price ultimately won the stage but missed out on the overall victory by just six seconds. Disappointed not to have taken the win, the 2016 Dakar Champion was still extremely happy with how his rally had gone.

Toby Price: “Today was great. We pushed right from the start to try and make up the time to Paulo (Goncalves). Everything went well on the stage; the bike was good and I was really pleased with my riding. I tried my best but unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough and I lost out on the overall by the smallest of margins. All-in-all the rally has been good, the team have once again done an excellent job and our performance has been really consistent over the last couple of races here in South America. We’ve earned some good points for the championship, so we’ll see what happens at the final round.”

Matthias Walkner

Opening the stage, Matthias Walkner also rode a superb final day of the rally to post the third fastest time on the special. Unfortunately, having clocked into the final check-control late, he was penalised and dropped to fifth position for the day earning him fourth overall in the final standings. Despite the setback, Matthias was pleased with his progress and the work done by the team, and now looks forward to the next event in Peru.

Matthias Walkner: “Stage five was really cool, I enjoyed it a lot. There were some nice pistes but also about 30km of riverbeds so we had to take care there. I tried to push as hard as I could where it was safe but made a small mistake on the road book and that’s where Toby caught me. Other than that, I know my pace was really good and I’m happy with how my bike is performing. It’s unfortunate to receive the penalty as it has cost my place on the podium.”

Jordi Viladoms – KTM Rally Sport Manager: “Matthias put in a great ride today but clocked in late at the check-control at the bivouac after the stage. It’s a shame to suffer such a harsh penalty for a minor issue, but we appreciate the rules have to be kept and we have to accept the decision of the organisers. All we can do is learn from it and move on.”

Toby Price & Jordi Viladoms

Team junior, KTM Factory Racing’s Luciano Benavides enjoyed a strong final day of the Desafio Ruta 40 finishing seventh to claim sixth overall in the provisional overall rally standings. Continuing to learn and gain experience, the young Argentinian now looks forward to the Desafio Inka in Peru and the final round of the world championship in Morocco.

Luciano Benavides: “It was a good day for me. After making a few mistakes during the rally my goal today was to stay on the bike, stick to a steady pace and get to the finish safely. I am happy with my position and have really started to build confidence again in my riding and the navigation. I can’t wait for Peru now and hopefully another good result.”

Luciano Benavides

With the points earned from their results at this year’s Desafio Ruta 40 Toby Price now sits in provisional second place in the championship standings. Matthias Walkner remains fifth with one round now remaining. The next event for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rally riders will be the Desafio Inka rally held in Peru from 14 to 16 September. (source: red bull ktm factory racing)

Provisional Final Standings – 2018 Desafio Ruta 40

1. Paulo Goncalves (PRT) Honda
2. Toby Price (AUS) KTM
3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL) Husqvarna
4. Matthias Walkner (AUT) KTM
5. Ricky Brabec (USA) Honda

STORY: Matthias Walkner – Tagessieg auf der 4. Argentinien-Etappe
STORY: Toby Price fastest on tough Desafio Ruta 40 stage 2

LINK: Desafio Ruta 40

photos (c) Rally Zone