Austrian racer Walkner had a 20-point advantage at the top of the championship standings heading into round four of five in the series, and knew he had to put in a strong performance in order to clinch the title in Morocco. Walkner took the lead of the rally on stage two before falling foul of a tricky note in the road book on stage three. The 2018 Dakar winner came back fighting to narrowly miss the stage victory on stage four ahead of the final day.
On the fifth and final day, Walkner knew exactly what was needed of him over the 166km timed special to score enough points to claim the 2021 world title. The KTM racer finished eighth for second overall, securing his second FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. The victory is KTM’s third consecutive win in the series with Toby Price and Sam Sunderland earning the 2018 and 2019 titles, before the 2020 series was cancelled due to the global pandemic. KTM has taken the championship honors six times from the last nine seasons of competition.
Of the three rounds raced of the series so far, Walkner has shown incredible consistency, finishing as runner-up at the high-speed Rally Kazakhstan, before taking the win in the contrasting conditions of the epic Silk Way Rally, less than one month later. Now, with another top-two result in Morocco, the experienced 35-year-old has shown he is clearly on form and will now be aiming to carry his winning momentum into the final round of the series at Abu Dhabi before focusing on the 2022 Dakar next January.
Matthias Walkner: “It’s been a super cool rally for me (in Morocco). I set out this morning hoping to take the win, but I made a small mistake about halfway through that only maybe cost me a minute, but it was enough on the shortened stage to lose out. Second place is great though and to win the world championship title early is amazing. The team have been great all year, so a big thank you to them. It’s time to relax now and really enjoy the moment.”
Norbert Stadlbauer – Rally Team Manager: “We are very happy with the result overall – we came here to bring home the title one event early and we’ve managed to do that. It’s been a very positive race for the whole team and now we will look ahead to Abu Dhabi and then on to Dakar in January.”
Robert Jonas – Vice President Motorsports Offroad: “To claim another FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship is a credit to Matthias and the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team and it’s a victory that we’re very proud of. There is no doubt how hard Matthias works to be at the top of his game both on and off the bike; he has maintained the consistency and speed needed while navigating throughout this year’s races to bring home the trophy with his KTM 450 RALLY. Congratulations to Matthias and the team.”