Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price and Matthias Walkner are ready to take on the Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina. Celebrating its 11th edition in 2023, the five-stage event marks round four of this year’s FIM World Rally-Raid Championship and will see the first competitive return to action for the team since the third round of the series back in April.
Back on the world championship calendar for the first time since 2018, the Desafio Ruta 40 starts at the bivouac at La Rioja before heading north, through the Catamarca region, into Salta and the finish line on September 1. A short prologue on Sunday, August 27 will decide the start order for the following day’s stage one of the grueling event. Over the course of the week, competitors will race through challenging terrain comprising dunes, sandy tracks, and fast gravel roads.
Coming into the Desafio Ruta 40 leading the FIM World Rally-Raid Championship standings, Toby Price will be looking to extend that advantage on this penultimate round of the series. Price placed fourth at the Sonora Rally back in April and currently holds a seven-point lead at the top of the rankings. The tough Argentine terrain should suit Toby well – the first of his two Dakar Rally wins came in 2016, when the event was held almost entirely in Argentina.
Toby Price: “Looking back at Sonora, it was a nice, solid race and nothing too crazy. It’s great to be here at round four in Argentina and it’s great to be back in South America. It’s always cool to see people that are excited to watch the race here and I’m looking forward to see what it will bring. We know we’re in for some tricky conditions, that’s for sure. The championship is good at the moment, I’m leading out but there’s still two rounds to go, so for sure, anything can happen. We’ll just focus on Argentina for now then see what happens from there. I’m looking forward to seeing what the race will bring, everything is looking good at the moment. My body feels good, so we just need to have a strong race till the end!”
The Sonora Rally marked the first race back for Matthias Walkner after the injury he sustained in the Dakar. Despite being far from 100 percent, he was able to secure a strong top-five finish at the tough Mexican event. Now fighting fit for the Desafio Ruta 40, the Austrian star will be focused on further improving his pace and feeling aboard his KTM 450 RALLY. However, with the mixed terrain seen in Argentina, and the technical navigation required both suiting Matthias well, he should prove to be a real threat for the overall podium.
Matthias Walkner: “I’m really looking forward to racing in South America again. The Desafio Ruta 40 has a lot of old, Dakar-style tracks, let’s say. The terrain is really unforgiving, and I know some of the stages here are a real challenge, especially those near Belen. Personally, I’m feeling good, it was nice to get back to racing in Mexico and now here in Argentina, I want to push for another solid finish. During the break, we did a lot of testing with the bike, but we won’t really see them being used until the next round in Morocco. My goals here are the same as always – give 100 percent first of all, but if all goes well, it would be great to finish on the podium.”
The 2023 Desafio Ruta 40 starts with a short prologue on August 27, followed by five full days of racing through the Argentine desert. On reaching the checkered flag in Salta on September 1, riders will have covered a total distance of 2,804 kilometers, with 1,555 kilometers raced against the clock.
- From KTM Factory Racing