Matthias Walkner and Toby Price have both put in strong performances on a long stage four of the 2018 Desafio Ruta 40 rally finishing first and second respectively, with Price moving into second overall.
The result moves the duo up to second and third in the provisional overall standings, with Price 3:28 behind leader Paulo Goncalves, going into Friday‰Ûªs final stage.
Day four of the Desafio Ruta 40 posed one of the greatest physical challenges of the rally so far. Containing the event‰Ûªs longest timed special at 357.55km, the stage took competitors south from Tinogasta to the city of Villa Union at the foothills of the Andes. The route itself climbed to over 4,000m above sea level as riders tackled a variety of terrain, from river beds and washes strewn with large rocks to fast, open pistes on the drop down to the finish.
After a small issue on the previous day‰Ûªs stage, Matthias Walkner set off seventh at the start of this morning‰Ûªs timed special. Initially riding with the aim of catching the riders in front, he was soon faced with the treacherous terrain of the first 200km. Maintaining a steady pace, the Austrian concentrated on his navigation and the task of getting to the finish safely. Putting his experience to good use, Matthias ultimately posted the days fastest time, elevating himself to third overall in the provisional standings.
‰ÛÏToday‰Ûªs stage was good and bad in equal measures. The first half of the stage was really tough ‰ÛÒ the terrain was so tricky and the rocks so big," Walkner explained. "It really took it out of you, especially so early in the stage when the bikes are fully fuelled. I decided to stick to a safe pace and make sure I didn‰Ûªt get lost or have an accident. It seems to have paid off because I was fastest today and managed to get a little time back that I lost yesterday. We‰Ûªve got one more day to go, so I‰Ûªm looking forward to getting to the finish and hopefully with a good result.‰Û