Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing’s Matthias Walkner has secured victory at the 2017 OiLibya Rally of Morocco.
Moving up one spot in the overall standings, Antoine Meo marked his return to international rally competition with a strong fourth place overall result in Morocco. Continuing her strong run of form Laia Sanz finished the event in eighth position.
Topping the standings on the sixth and final day of competition in Morocco, Walkner has won the last round of the 2017 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. Collecting valuable points, the Austrian rider moved up to third in the series’ final standings.
Walkner: “It’s been a long event and I’m really happy that I won it. During the last few days we were faced with overflowing rivers, long stages with tricky navigation and a series of other things that could have completely changed the outcome of the event. This is my first victory in the championship and it feels good.”
“The new bike has given me a lot of confidence to push and take my riding into a new level. I’m happy with my performance here in Morocco and this is very important heading into the Dakar Rally now. It makes the next three months a lot easier for me. The team have done an awesome job and we are all looking forward to the Dakar Rally.”
Enjoying another good day aboard his KTM 450 RALLY machine, Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing’s Antoine Meo was third in the first and longest timed special of the day and 11th in the short 8km-long final special. Earning a strong fourth place result in the 2017 OiLibya Rally’s final standings, the Frenchman has shown he is on very good form for the upcoming Dakar Rally in January.
Meo: “I think I’ve made a good come-back to rally racing and I’m happy about that. All the members of our team have done an incredible job here in Morocco and this gives me extra motivation to continue working hard. The new bike is a big improvement and a pleasure to race. Our eyes are set now on the big challenge – the Dakar Rally. There’s still a long way to go and I want to be ready for the race in January.”
Once again going head-to-head with the international rally elite, KTM Factory Racing’s Laia Sanz wrapped up the 2017 OiLibya Rally of Morocco with a solid eighth place result in the event’s final standings.
Sanz: “It’s been a tough week of racing and I’m really happy with eighth overall. This result is maybe even better than what I expected. I felt really good on my bike since day one here in Morocco. The most important thing for me is that I managed to get a good speed in the dunes and the desert and that is really encouraging for the Dakar. I feel very confident heading into the big event in January.”
Reaching the finish line of today’s fifth stage without any issues, KTM Factory Racing team rookie Luciano Benavides finished the rally in 17th position.
Benavides: “I learned a lot during these last few days and I already feel stronger. Navigation was tough at this year’s Morocco Rally and you had to remain focused on avoiding mistakes. My pace was good throughout the week and I didn’t make any big mistakes. I’m also very happy because I won the Junior class. I feel great with my team and now I’m looking forward to the Dakar Rally.”
The Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing team will return to action at the 2018 Dakar Rally, on January 6/20, 2018.
Final Standings – 2017 OiLibya Rally of Morocco
1. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 10:03:49
2. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 10:17:31 +13:42
3. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, 10:20:47 +16:58
4. Antoine Meo (FRA), KTM, 10:22:16 +18:27
5. Joan Pedrero (ESP), Sherco, 10:26:17 +22:28
9. Laia Sanz (ESP), KTM, 10:48:41 +44:52
17. Luciano Benavides (ARG), KTM, 11:53:33 +1:49:44
Final Standings – 2017 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship
1. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL), Husqvarna, 100pts
2. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 97pts
3. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 94pts
4. Paulo Goncalves (POR), Honda, 85pts
5. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 84pts