The Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing Team closed out their season on Friday with Dakar Rally winner Toby Price taking victory in the final round of the 2016 FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship. Teammate Sam Sunderland was second and Pablo Quintanilla took third place.
Matthias Walkner, the third in the trio of KTM factory riders made an excellent recovery from a mistake early in the week and finished on a high note. After winning the fourth stage, Walkner, from Austria, opened the track on the final day and led throughout the stage.
The Morocco Rally also decided the world championship title that finally went to Pablo Quintanilla after he and Sam Sunderland battled it out throughout the week. Sunderland, who last year at this rally picked up a leg injury that put him out of the Dakar Rally in January, put up a spirited fight for the title but was still pleased to wrap up his season with confidence ahead of the 2017 edition of the Dakar.
Toby Price, who finished third in the world championship after an injury problem in the early rounds, was consistent throughout the five-stage desert race and is in good shape heading into the 2017 Dakar Rally. He had some memorable battles with Sunderland as the Morocco Rally unfolded.
Price: “We always try to push for the wins in the stages and I had a big fight with Sam all week, so it was tough. Today he got lost around the 140 km mark and lost some time there, but everything is good. Sam put up a good flight and he showed he’s ready for the Dakar. Also a big congrats to Pablo (Quintanilla) for the championship. Now its time to move on and get ready for the big one in January.”
Sunderland: “It was a good race and I’m happy to arrive at the finish, especially after last year when I hurt my leg here. It was nice to be able to return and fight for the world championship all year. Toby was riding really good, so it was always going to be tough. He was always going to catch time on me today, so I expected that. There was nothing too surprising or special today. I made a few navigation mistakes, which made things a bit tricky. But I’m happy. Obviously you want to win, but I have to look at all the things I had to overcome in the last year and I’m grateful to KTM and the team for sticking by me after missing the Dakar with my leg injury. Now I can repay them, and show them I’m still strong and I can still fight for the world title and for race wins.” Sunderland said he felt he had improved a lot in his riding and in how he thought more about the process of the race. “That’s a good sign. Everybody’s doing well and we’re working towards the Dakar. We’ll keep going like this and we’ll have a good Dakar,” he added.
Walkner: “It went pretty good all week, and for me it was important to close the gap a bit after Chile (Atacama Rally) and in this I did better than I expected. I made a big mistake on day two then I tried to get my fast pace back. Today I opened the piste. I pushed out at the front for the whole way and crossed the line first. In the end it was a very good rally and I learned a lot. Now we have three months to work for the Dakar, and I know where I can improve. But I’m just very happy about the last day because the navigation was very difficult.”
The Morocco Rally over five stages covered a total distance of 1885 km, of with 1317 km was timed specials. Riders in the Red Bull KTM factory team all compete on the KTM 450 RALLY machine. They will now concentrate on their final preparation for the 2017 edition of the Dakar Rally and be ready to face the challenge of trying to capture KTM’s 16th consecutive title. Action in the 2017 Dakar begins on January 2, 2016.
Final Standings OiLibya Rally 2016 after 5 of 5 stages
1. Price, 13:06:35 h
2. Sunderland, +7.44 min
3. Quintanilla, +17:02
4. Rodrigues, 19:05
5. De Soultrait, +33:04