Merzouga Rally Day 2: win for Matthias Walkner
Stage 2 Liaison 22 km SS 163 km Liaison 40 km total 225 km
After tasting the sand on the first race day, today’s stage was mainly on rocky fast terrains. After a short liaison on the legendary Dakar piste, a spectacular 500 meters uphill mountain path brought the competitors on the Boudnib tableland. The 163 km long SS was designed to test both the riders’ riding skills as well as their confidence on navigation.
The KTM factory rider Sam Sunderland opened the track and it was not an easy job, considered that today’s stage was mainly horse-piste. The uphill climb was particularly demanding also for the Pro, with some riders like Alessandro Botturi, for example, who crashed but was able to re-join the race, without loosing too much time.
The KTM factory riders continues their domination of the MR with Matthias Walkner claiming the win of stage 2, followed by teammate Sam Sunderland, winner of yesterday stage, and Antoine Meo. Alessandro Botturi finished 4th and first Yamaha factory. Stefan Svitko completed the top5.
In the SSV category the win goes to the French crew Henrichy – Bersey (AT4R) in front of Los Amigos Abel- Manez and the Italian experienced Dakar rider Tonetti – Dominella. As the winner stated, the key today was navigation and the crews that did less mistakes were the first to cross the finish line. The SSV machines had no problems on the rocky paths and they all enjoyed the stage.
The MR is not only designed for Pro riders. A special attention is given also to all the amateurs that can challenge the desert with a series bike in the Rally Lite category. This is the story of Angel Leal, from Lleida, Spain. With several African Rallies under his belt, included the 2006 Lisboa-Dakar, Leal is testing the reliability of his Sherco 450 SEF bike on the Merzouga desert.
Matthias Walkner (KTM): “The uphill climb was really trick. From zero to 100, right on the top of the hill! I was tired afterwards and decided not to push too much and focus on navigation. This strategy paid well. I made 3 navigation mistakes, but in the end it was ok. In general it was a difficult stage for navigation and the rocky paths”.
Antoine Meo (KTM): “I’m used to rocky terrains, but it was not easy to find the best line on the steep uphill climb with our rally bikes. 2 kms after the climb I was not sure about the direction to follow but luckly Matthias (Walkner) arrived and we continued together till the end. Rally Raids is a different world compared to the Enduro. This is my third rally and I’m really enjoying this new adventure. Yesterday I was lucky to open the track on the dunes and this helped me a lot to gain more confidence with the navigation. It was a great experience. Today I could push more on the rocky paths, but the level of the front guys is really high. I’m still learning the navigation and this is a very good rally for this purpose”.
Alessandro Botturi (Yamaha): “Rocky terrain is my speciality but I pushed too hard on the steep uphill and I crashed. Luckly I didn’t loose too much time. All in all it was a very good stage and I am happy with my result”.
Laia Sanz (KTM): “Today I made a mistake on a note of the road book at km 19 and I lost some time. It’s a pity because I could have done a much better result”.
Dany Philippaerts (Beta): “yesterday I had to switch the mind from the enduro to the Rally navigation. I had to get used again and today I was more confident. I’m enjoying the rally.''
Angel Leal (Sherco): ''I’m taking part in the MR with a Sherco 450 SEF in the rally lite category. It’s a series bike, I just added the navigation holder for the road book and did a complete check up of the suspensions. It’s a very good category to get closer to the rally discipline. I’m enjoying the rally and the different terrains.''