Renet wins the Special, Walkner takes the lead at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.
This is a press release from FIM Cross-Country Rallies…
(April 3, 2017) – If the mercury climbs to 44°C, the hot wind and burning sand create the suffocating impression that the temperature is over 50°C. These extreme conditions are really tough for the riders who feel “under the weather” and have difficulty keeping their focus.
This morning at the start the first fifteen riders set off at 3’ intervals followed by the next fifteen in a line, motocross style. The last group also set of in a line after an interval of 7’.
After nearly 390 km of dunes, Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna), Sam Sunderland (KTM) and Matthias Walkner arrived at the finish TC (time check) together but Pela Renet (Husqvarna) took the laurels of this second stage. The French rider won the Special with a lead of 2’17 over Paulo Gonçalves (Honda), who crashed hard, and 3’48 over Matthias Walkner, who moved to the top of the leader board.
“It was very long”, says Pela Renet after his second stage victory (the first was in the same Rally last year). “I rode by myself for the entire Special. At km 200, Paulo Gonçalves made a mistake and I overtook him, then I made a mistake and he overtook me in a fast sector on a sebhka (dried out lake) and I couldn’t keep up. But I am happy now. It was a tough day but a good one!”
Paulo Gonçalves (Honda) in second place proved that he really is a hard nut to crack as he fell hard at km 60 but got back on his bike and rode hard for the finish despite the pain that showed on his face. “We were a group of four riding side by side and behind a dune there was a dip that stopped me dead. I couldn’t breathe. Fortunately Matthias (Walkner) stopped to give me a hand…”
With his third place, the KTM rider takes the lead in the race with a gap of just 32’’2 over Gonçalves, while Pablo Quintanilla ((Husqvarna), who really felt the heat, came in fourth ahead of Kevin Benavides (Honda). “I had a sore wrist at the start of the Special », says the man from Argentina, “but then it wore off a bit.”
Finishing in sixth place, Sam Sunderland (KTM) was less than overjoyed: “I opened the Special the whole way and it wasn’t easy as there were no tracks in front of me. This race is too tactical. I did the work for the others and I am feeling frustrated.”
Tomorrow, the breeze should be back and the temperatures are expected to drop a few degrees for the third Special over a distance of 288 km.