Just who is Matthias Walkner?
Matthias Walkner hasn’t always had it easy when it comes to the Dakar Rally. But one year after finishing second behind teammate Sam Sunderland and at just his fourth attempt, he climbed onto the top step of the podium 2018 in Argentina to win his first Dakar title.
The 31-year-old has been Mr Consistent in the 40th edition of the legendary rally raid race, calmly navigating his way across Peru, Bolivia and Argentina to cross the finish line first in Córdoba. Here are some things you may not know about the man born just outside Salzburg.
Did you know?
1. Surprisingly, he is not the first Austrian to ever triumph at the Dakar after compatriot Peter Reif won the truck category in 1997.
2. He is however the first Austrian rider to take part in the Dakar since Heinz Kinigader, who fittingly acts as Walkner’s mentor.
3. From the age of 16 (back in 2002), he worked in a motorcycle shop to improve his mechanical skills and understanding of how a bike works.
4. He first joined KTM in 2004.
5. On his first Dakar in 2015, he shadowed defending champion Marc Coma but had to retire from the event with illness.
6. In 2016, he again failed to make the finish after breaking his femur in a crash on stage seven. It took him 12 hours to get him to hospital in La Paz after the crash.
7. In his rehab, he did 30 hours a week for 24 weeks at Red Bull’s therapy centre.
8. Last year when he was second to Sam Sunderland, it was a Red Bull KTM Factory 1-2.
9. He was a good skier growing up but admitted he never really enjoyed it.
10. His first race was just three weeks after his father bought him a motorbike. He went on to finish second.
11. His father is also called Matthias.
12. When he won his first world title, his mother put a heart-shaped sign on the front door at their home made up of newspaper cuttings heralding his achievement.
13. He only switched to rally riding when they scrapped the motorcross world championship after his title win.
14. He won his first rally in Greece in 2014.
15. His hobbies are mountain biking, on road motorcycling and having a BBQ with friends.