|Hellas Rally: Walkner and Jerak still the overall leaders in bike and quads.|
Day 4 of the "Hellas Rally Raid" 2014 in the Lepanto region of Greece brought again a varying day, mostly in the fast mountain areas in the north-east of the city Nafpaktos. The competitors had to reach 291 kilometers overall, splitted in three liaisons with 13.7, 26.79 and 52.14 kms and two timed sections with 93.78 and 104.61 kms. The first bikes finished the stage early which was a proof for the high average speed.
In the bikes, again the Austrian KTM-rider Matthias Walkner showed his skills, achieving another stagewin with 04:10:59, which was 12:51 minutes faster than the experienced Portuguese Pedro Bianchi Prata (Husqvarna) and 15:48 mins to Italian amateur-expert Christian Pastori. But instead of Prata and Pastori in the rallysport we never heard about Matthias Walkner, so why the hell he is so fast? Simply a natural talent?
Yes and no. Born 1986 in Kuchl / Austria and actually living in the "Mozart-town" Salzburg, Walkner was a famous Motocross driver, vice-national Champion in 2008 - and MX3 World Champion in 2012. But the Austrian never participated in a rally.
"I heard about the rally from the Kini-team and I like new challenges," he said. "The first day was not easy. I´ve never driven with a roadbook, everything was new for me. Surprisingly I was in front very early. It´s something special to lead the field, you have to open the track, navigate for yourself, you can´t follow the tracks of other participants. And you never know if you are really on the right way."
Walkner is leading the overall rankings with 14:34:04 hours, followed by Prata (+27:16 mins) and Czech Ondrej Klymciw (+27:35) - both "hunters" are only 20 seconds from each other and if Walkner will keep his pace we eventually will see a nice fight for the second and third podium places. Fourth is Massimo Prazzoli from Italy (KTM, +01:09:31), fifth the Italian Francesco Catanese (KTM, +01:26:12).
"This was a really nice and fast stage," reported the Dutchman Pieter Boss, who is actually on 24th position. "My goal was to reach the top 40 and not to get injured. Here an accident can happen fast, even experts like Marc Guasch from Spain had to retire because of an injury," the amateur-rider said. "Today I climbed eight places in the rankings, fantastic! Yesterday we had some trouble with the roadbook, many people got lost. But today it was perfect!"
During the Quads, French Sebastién Souday (Yamaha Raptor) catched the stagewin with 04:36:31 hours in front of the Slovenian Eddy Jerak (Artic Cat, +14:33), the Dutch Jan Foppen (Can Am, +48:25), George Metaxas from Greece (Yamaha, +50:50) and Jan Willem Goedhart from Holland (Can Am, +01:28:41).
"Sebastién was really fast today, finished the first part of the stage as third between the bikes," said Eddy Jerak, who is still the overall leader with now 16:46:50 hours. He has a secure lead of 01:51:58 hours to the second, George Metaxas - and 03:47:10 to Jan Foppen from Holland. Foppen profited from problems of the Greek Thanasis Kouvas, who lost his third position and is now 8th with a gap of 17:04:22 hours.
Tomorrow (Saturday), the 5th stage was expected as longest day of the rally with nearly 500 kilometers overall and 326 kms timed section, splitted in three stages, this time on the peninsula of Patras. But the organization was forced to cancel the third stage (106,46 kms) due to security reasons: "The plan was to cross the highest mountains here in high altitude," Meletis Stamatis said. "But because of the bad weather in the last weeks there is deep snow in this area, maybe nice for pictures but bad for the participants and especially the rescue-crews." But even without the third section the day will be long again...
2014/05/10 | 01:10 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS | PHOTOS: CORRADINI