The Atacama Rally heads north in Chile with a lightning-paced Kevin Benavides taking the triumph in the second stage. Paulo posted sixth spot.
The Atacama Rally left Copiapó bound for the north in a second stage affected by an accident involving French rider Pela Renet who had to be airlifted to safety by helicopter. For safety reasons the special stage was shortened to the neutralization zone, where the fastest competitor at that point had been Monster Energy Honda Team rider Kevin Benavides. The Argentinean rider thus reduces the gap with overall leader Quintanilla to just seven seconds.
Paulo Gonçalves, who set off sixth after receiving a somewhat dubious penalization, also finished the day in sixth place as well as occupying the same place in the general standings.
This second stage of the Atacama Rally linked the towns of Copiapó and Tal Tal, more than three hundred kilometres away in the north of Chile on the Pacific coast. There were 308 kilometres of special timed stage in which the pilots encountered a variety of terrain types, predominantly fast track, but with some dunes earlier in the day. The start was delayed an hour and a half by the appearance of the camanchaca, the early morning mist typical in these regions. Due to the accident of Pela Renet, only the first part of the special was completed, until the neutralization section at kilometre 164. Tomorrow the Atacama Rally will pass its half-way point: the third stage will take the riders from Tal Tal to another coastal area: Mejillones. It will feature some 349 kilometres of timed special before arriving at the check point in La Negra.
Paulo Goncalves STAGE: 6TH OVERALL: 6TH Today the stage was cut in half, but we had a quite interesting first part of 170 kilometres with some navigation and broken tracks, with quite a lot of stones. I lost two minutes to the winner, but I’m still in there, not far off. I’ll try to do it right and do the best I can each day and see if the penalty was really a roadbook error. Let’s keep moving on.
STAGE: 1ST OVERALL: 2ND I felt really good today. I kept a good pace throughout the stage. At first, with sand, valleys and navigation until kilometre 70. Then, there were faster tracks. The idea today was to get a good position, maybe it was not the best thing to do to win, but I’m glad I got this victory. There are three days ahead and we are going to challenge the mathematics of it and keep up a good rhythm until Iquique. It’s a pity for Pela, I wish him a speedy recovery and a return to the track as soon as possible.
Kevin Benavides Stage 2 Results
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap 1 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Monster Energy Honda Team 1:39’25 2 SUNDERLAND Sam GBR KTM Factory Racing Team +0’17 3 CAIMI Franco ARG Yamaha Motor Europe +0’38 4 QUINTANILLA Pablo CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +1’03 5 DE SOULTRAIT Xavier FRA Yamaha Motor Europe +1’39 6 GONCALVES Paulo POR Monster Energy Honda Team +2’11 7 WALKNER Matthias AUT KTM Factory Racing Team +2’28 8 VAN BEVEREN Adrien 6 FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +4’20 9 CORNEJO José CHI Cornejo Rally Team 7’58 10 DE GAVARDO Tomás CHI De Gavardo Team +27’17 Rider Standings
PROVISIONAL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 2
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap 1 QUINTANILLA Pablo CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team 4:03’40 2 BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Monster Energy Honda Team +0’07 3 DE SOULTRAIT Xavier FRA Yamaha Motor Europe +3’54 4 CAIMI Franco ARG Yamaha Motor Europe +6’12 5 SUNDERLAND Sam GBR KTM Factory Racing Team +6’15 6 GONCALVES Paulo POR Monster Energy Honda Team +8’43 7 WALKNER Matthias AUT KTM Factory Racing Team +11’36 8 VAN BEVEREN Adrien 6 FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +13’27 9 CORNEJO José CHI Cornejo Rally Team +17’28 10 GOUET Daniel CHI Motorola +1:24’11