“I'd really like to see that black and white flag”
The 2012 MX3 world moto-x champion won his very first rally in Greece before entering the 2015 Dakar. He failed to finish that year, but great things were expected of him for the 2016 Dakar. And he was in living up to that promise, holding 3rd place at the end of Day 6, just under two and a half minutes behind the leader Paulo Gonçalves… Then on Day 7 disaster struck when the Austrian rider crashed heavily and broke his femur. There followed a long road to recovery, with Matthias not being fit enough to race again until the following August, when he competed in the Atacama Rally, finishing 6th overall. Then in Morocco in October, his last race before the 2017 Dakar, he took a stage win and a third place on another stage. His overall result was nothing to write home about, after he got seriously lost and gave away over 30 minutes to his rivals, but it was enough to convince Matthias that he was back in the hunt.
“My primary goal for 2017, after two failed attempts, has to be to get to the final finish line. I'd really like to see that black and white flag. If everything goes without a hitch a top 5 finish should be possible. In Morocco I won a stage starting from the front and that really gave my confidence a boost – I proved to myself that I was competitive again. But I am sure it is going to be a particularly tough rally. First of all there are the difficult conditions in Bolivia – the altitude and the cold temperatures are both going to take their toll. The other challenge is the sheer number of fast young riders who have come into the sport recently. I used to think that the standard of riding in rally wasn't that high, more like an ultra-marathon, where people run for a long time but not that fast. That was maybe the case a while ago, but all that has changed – it is more like a sprint now. It makes the result very difficult to predict. Hopefully it will be third time lucky for me in 2017!”