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Matthias Walkner takes second on stage three of 2017 OiLibya Rally of Morocco | News

Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing’s Matthias Walker has retained his second place in the overall standings of the 2017 OiLibya Rally of Morocco.

Putting in an excellent performance on today’s stage three to finish as runner-up, the Austrian now trails the overall leader by less than five minutes. Antoine Meo and Laia Sanz also rode well to finish inside the top 10.

Matthias Walkner was sixth away this morning at the start of stage three of the OiLibya Rally of Morocco. It proved to be the perfect position for the former MX3 Motocross World Champion as he had five riders in front of him, which he could chase down during the stage.

The day was to include the longest special of the rally, however, due to the same rains that brought the previous day’s racing to a premature close the stage was shortened considerably. Matthias was fastest to the first checkpoint and narrowly missed out on the win, placing a mere 10 seconds behind American Ricky Brabec at the finish.

Antoine Meo and Laia Sanz continued to show great pace during the rally. Meo, after setting off in fourth position this morning, stayed with the front-runners to complete the day in a very strong seventh place. Laia Sanz, having set off one place ahead of her KTM team-mate, stayed with Meo to finish in eighth and just one-minute down on the Frenchman.

Improving throughout the rally, Luciano Benavides took his KTM 450 RALLY to a superb 12th position on today’s stage. The Argentinian continues to become more familiar with his bike and the navigation skills required to master these difficult conditions.

Sam Sunderland, did not start this morning due to aggravating a rib injury he sustained whilst testing. The Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing rider will be back for the Dakar in January.

Jordi Viladoms – KTM Rally Sport Manager, was extremely pleased with how stage three went for the riders, especially after the previous day’s difficulties.

Viladoms: “The stage has been really good for the team today. Matthias claimed an excellent second position and lies second overall. Hopefully with two more good stages it’s possible for him to take the overall victory, but there is still a long way to go. He currently lies third in the championship on points, so that is encouraging, too.

“The new bike is performing very well, it seems to inspire confidence and the riders’ speed also seems good. This is evident with the performance of Antoine and Laia – they are both putting in great results every day and it’s a good sign for the preparation leading to Dakar.

“The junior member of the team, Luciano is also improving his pace. The experience he gains here is invaluable for the big race in January – we are really pleased with how he is progressing. It’s unfortunate what happened with Sam yesterday, but luckily his injury is not too bad and he will be fine for Dakar. We still have two more days’ racing so hopefully we can get a good result at the end.”

Today’s stage was the first part of the event’s marathon stages. Riders will camp overnight at Erg Lihoudi, without assistance from their teams, before returning to competition tomorrow.

Stage four of the 2017 OiLibya rally of Morocco sees riders leave the bivouac of Erg Lihoudi and head back towards the city of Erfoud. The stage covers a total of 482.04km and involves navigating a mixture of terrain including mountain passes, river beds and fesh-fesh through the desert.

Provisional Results Stage Three – 2017 OiLibya Rally of Morocco

1. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 1:30:15
2. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 1:30:25 +0:10
3. Pablo Quintanilla, (CHI), Husqvarna, 1:30:57 +0:42
4. Adrien van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, 1:32:55 +2:40
5. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda 1:33:12 +2:57
Other KTM
7. Antoine Meo (FRA), KTM, 1:36:39 +6:24
8. Laia Sanz (ESP), KTM, 1:37:53 +7:38
12. Luciano Benavides (ARG), KTM, 1:41:10 +10:55

Provisional Standings – 2017 OiLibya Rally of Morocco after 3 of 5 stages

1. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 6:07:33
2. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 6:12:21 +4:48
3. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda 6:22:05 +9:44
4. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 6:23:18 +10:57
5. Juan Pedrero (ESP), Sherco 6:27:38 +15:17