Walkner weathers Dakar storms

Courtesy of Red Bull Media Service Team

Matthias Walkner (AUT) of Red Bull KTM Factory Team is seen at the finish line of Rally Dakar 2018 in Cordoba, Argentina on January 20, 2018 –
Photographer Credit:
Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Austrian biker reveals gruelling lengths he went to for maiden Dakar victory.

Austrian Matthias Walkner has revealed the amazing lengths he went to in order to complete his maiden Dakar Rally motorbike victory last week.

The 31-year-old followed up his second place last year behind Sam Sunderland with a gutsy win over 12 draining South American stages from Argentina’s Kevin Benavides and 2016 champion Toby Price.

Speaking to Servus TV, the Kuchl native explained: “It’s really exhausting as you sleep an average of four to five hours.

Matthias Walkner – Winner of the Rally Dakar 2018 – seen at the press conference in Salzburg, Austria on January 22nd, 2018 –
Photographer Credit:
Matthias Heschl/Red Bull Content Pool

“I would have wished for a few more hours of sleep in Bolivia especially, where we were reaching altitudes of 4,700m to 4,800m.”

Walkner has returned to a hero’s welcome in Austria where his popularity currently is rivalling the likes of alpine ski star Marcel Hirscher.


In terms of the arduous weather conditions, he said: “After the rest day in La Paz, it rained the whole 320km in the morning just to reach the 4am start and the temperature was only two degrees.

“The special stage was 430km and it rained for 250km. You’re going at 150km/h and you can hardly see anything because there is condensation on the goggles. Everything is soaked. It’s really tough, but worth it.”

Matthias Walkner – Winner of the Rally Dakar 2018 – seen at the press conference in Salzburg, Austria on January 22nd, 2018 –
Photographer Credit:
Matthias Heschl/Red Bull Content Pool

With Benavides and Price waiting to pounce, Walkner knew he had to dig deep over the closing stages once he had taken the overall lead midway through the race.

He added: “Like a soccer game when you’re leading 5-0, you don’t need to go all in and risk everything but you need to stay safe.

“I needed my focus and concentration, but it was hard not to get lost. And if you crash, you immediately lose the lead.

“As long as I remain healthy until the end of 2020, I still have a contract for the next two Dakars.

“I guess this year I will need a little longer to recover – the party will go on!”

Matthias Walkner – Winner of the Rally Dakar 2018 – seen with fans in Salzburg, Austria on January 22nd, 2018 –
Photographer Credit:
Matthias Heschl/Red Bull Content Pool

 

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