Sensationell: Ein Österreicher triumphiert bei der Dakar auf einer KTM. Matthias Walkner aus Salzburg gewann nach zwei Wochen wüster und extrem schwieriger Rallye durch Peru, Bolivien und Argentinien über knapp 9.000 km mit 22 Minuten Vorsprung mit der KTM 450 Rallye vor Honda-Pilot Kevin Benavides und KTM-Teamgefährte Toby Price. Es war 2018 die 40. Auflage der Dakar-Rallye (die zehnte in Südamerika) und der sage und schreibe 17. Sieg in Folge für die Marke aus Mattighofen.
Matthias Walkner: »Es ist unglaublich – ich kann dieses Gefühl gar nicht beschreiben. Dieses Jahr war die Dakar so schwierig, definitiv die härteste Rally meiner Karriere. Die Navigation war jeden Tag eine Herausforderung. Zu Beginn des Rennens lagen die Topfahrer so eng beieinander, es lag kaum Zeit zwischen uns. Ich habe einfach versucht, jeden Tag mein Bestes zu geben und Fehler zu vermeiden. Bis zu meinem Etappensieg lag alles sehr nah zusammen. Danach habe ich versucht, jeden Tag sicher ins Ziel zu kommen und das Rennen zu beenden, ohne meinen Vorsprung zu verlieren. Zum Glück ist unsere Taktik aufgegangen und nun stehe ich hier im Ziel als Sieger und es fühlt sich irgendwie unwirklich an. Vielen Dank an mein Team und jeden, der mich unterstützt hat – wir haben es geschafft!«
Matthias Walkner: »It’s unbelievable – I can’t describe how it feels. This year’s Dakar has been so difficult, easily the toughest rally of my career. Navigation has been tricky pretty much every day. At the beginning of the race, all the top guys were so close with not much time between us. I just tried to keep on doing well each day without making any mistakes. Things were so tight right up to my stage victory. After that I aimed to finish each day safely and get to the end of the rally without losing my advantage. Luckily the tactics worked out and I’m here at the end now as the winner and it feels unreal. Thank you to my team and everyone that has supported me – we did it!«
Just who is Matthias Walkner? A fact-file on the first Austrian to win the Dakar Rally on a bike
One year after finishing second behind teammate Sam Sunderland and at just his fourth attempt, Matthias Walkner climbed onto the top step of the podium in Argentina to win his first Dakar. The 31-year-old has been Mr Consistent in the 40th edition of the legendary rally raid race, calmly navigating his way across Peru, Bolivia and Argentina to cross the finish line first in Córdoba.
– Matthias Walkner is not the first Austrian to ever triumph at the Dakar after compatriot Peter Reif won the truck category in 1997.
– He is the first Austrian rider to take part in the Dakar since Heinz Kinigader, who fittingly acts as Walkner’s mentor.
– From the age of 16 (back in 2002), he worked in a motorcycle shop to improve his mechanical skills and understanding of how a bike works.
– On his first Dakar in 2015, he shadowed champion Marc Coma but had to retire from the event with illness.
– In 2016, he again failed to make the finish after breaking his femur in a crash on stage seven.
– In his rehab, he did 30 hours a week for 24 weeks at Red Bull’s therapy centre.
– Last year when he was second to Sam Sunderland, it was a Red Bull KTM Factory 1-2.
– He first joined KTM in 2004.
– He was a good skier growing up but admitted he never really enjoyed it.
– His first race was just three weeks after his father bought him a motorbike. He went on to finish second.
– His father is also called Matthias.
– When he won his first world title, his mother put a heart-shaped sign on the front door at their home made up of newspaper cuttings heralding his achievement.
– He only switched to rally riding when they scrapped the motocross world championship after his title win in MX3.
– He won his first rally in Greece in 2014.
– His hobbies are mountain biking, on road motorcycling and having a BBQ with friends.
Final Standings – 2018 Dakar Rally