Dakar 2018: Walkner scores KTM's 17th straight win

Dakar 2018: Walkner scores KTM's 17th straight win
Valentin Khorounzhiy
By: Valentin Khorounzhiy
Jan 20, 2018, 3:28 PM

KTM rider Matthias Walkner has secured victory in the bike category of the 2018 Dakar Rally.

Matthias Walkner, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
#47 Monster Energy Honda Team: Kevin Benavides
#2 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM: Matthias Walkner
#8 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM: Toby Price
#2 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM: Matthias Walkner

Walkner finished Saturday's 120km final stage 5m38s behind the pace-setting Honda of Kevin Benavides, which was enough for the Austrian to claim a maiden Dakar win for himself and a 17th consecutive triumph for KTM.

Runner-up to teammate Sam Sunderland last year, Walkner won only one stage en route to the overall honours in 2018.

But it was that very stage – the January 16 run from Salta to Belen – that proved crucial to his aspirations.

The Austrian was one of two frontrunners to avoid getting badly lost and losing lots of time on the day, and inherited a huge lead when rival Adrien van Beveren of Yamaha fell and dropped out due to injury.

Walkner managed his advantage from that point onwards and ended the rally 17 minutes clear of Benavides, who topped Saturday's test to record his first and only stage win of the 2018 event.

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Dakar 2016 champion Toby Price was a minute behind Benavides in the stage and completed the podium of the marathon 23 minutes behind fellow KTM rider Walkner.

Their teammate Antoine Meo and privateer Gerard Farres made it four KTM riders in the top five.

Final standings:

Pos. Rider Bike Time/Gap
1  Matthias Walkner KTM 43h06m01s
2  Kevin Benavides Honda 16m53s
3  Toby Price KTM 23m01s
4  Antoine Meo KTM 47m28s
5  Gerard Farres KTM 1h01m04s
6  Johnny Aubert Gas Gas 1h53m53s
7  Oriol Mena Hero 2h22m52s
8  Pablo Quintanilla Husqvarna 2h24m05s
9  Dani Oliveras KTM 2h37m20s
10  Jose Ignacio Cornejo Honda 2h42m36s
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