Walkner new leader in Dakar Rally
Matthias Walkner on his KTM of the Red Bull KTM Factory Team making his way through the dunes during stage 10 of the Dakar Rally, between Salta and Belen, Argentina on Tuesday.
Salta - KTM rider first overall in Dakar Rally after rivals made navigation error
The Stage 10 saw the 2018 Dakar Rally tackle Argentinian sand dunes and riverbeds between Salta and Belén. After several days in the rain, hot weather returned with temperatures above 40°C.
But Stage 10 also saw a big turmoil in the bike category, with Austrian Matthias Walkner taking advantage of the navigation error made by several rivals. That, and the then overall leader Adrien Van Beveren fell three kilometers from the finish, ruining his chances of victory and letting Walkner take the lead.
Stéphane Peterhansel took his second stage win in a row in Belén, opening the route and increasing his lead through the day to finish ahead of Giniel de Villiers (+8'46") and Carlos Sainz (+13'07'').
The Spanish driver remains overall leader with a 50-minute lead over Peterhansel, his Team Peugeot Total teammate, and an hour and 12 minutes over Nasser Al-Attiyah from Toyota.
Peterhansel said: "There was a lot of rios, a lot of offtrack. When we took the tracks, they were completely destroyed. It was a really long day again and we tried to push. We did not make any mistakes, but we are a little bit tired this evening. Tomorrow will be a little bit like today and today was a really important stage."
Walkner took the win in Belén after Antoine Meo, Toby Price and Kevin Benavides got lost while following each other along the wrong track in the second part of the stage. When Van Beveren was forced to abandon after falling off his bike, Walkner prevailed - and became the new overall leader.
The Red Bull KTM Factory Racing finished ahead of Pablo Quintanilla (+11'35'') and Gerard Guell (+16'21'') in the small Argentinian town. He has a 39-minute lead on Joan Barreda and 41 minutes on Benavides in the overall ranking.
Price eventually took 17 and Meo 20 today, falling to fifth and sixth overall.
Walkner said: "A really tough and long stage. After the first part, when I saw Kevin was six minutes in front, I said ok, we can't go as fast all stage with this tricky navigation. So I stayed at my pace and it did not work so bad.
"Of course I think I can win, but there are six or seven other riders who can win it and there is still a long way to go. We've seen how quick it can change".