Rockstar Energy Husqvarna factory rider Pablo Quintanilla finished the fiercely long and very fast second stage of the Atacama Rally in Chile in second place with the slimmest 10-second overall lead over rival Toby Price of Australia. He then got hit with a six-minute penalty for a speed violation in a controlled zone. At the end of the day he was ranked fourth in the stage and slipped down to third in the overall rankings.

Quintanilla now starts Stage Three with a deficit of 5.50 minutes but admitted the fault was entirely his. “It was just an impulse. I was in front of Price by a minute but I misread the GPS screen and entered a control zone of 50 km at 90 km.”

20160824_File_Legend_Quintanilla takes line honours in opening stage of Atacama Rally

Pablo Quintanilla currently third after stage two at 2016 Atacama Rally

The day’s speed traps were also bad news for Quintanilla’s teammate Pela Renet and in the evening he too found himself with 33 minutes of penalties to be reclassified from eighth in the stage down to 14th. He is now 12th in the overall standings 1:00.43 off the winning pace.

Quintanilla is riding on familiar home territory, albeit with the hopes of his nation riding with him, and he is still very much in the title fight with Price and several other riders. Just six minutes separate the first four riders but there are still three stages and they start to enter the small sand hills on Thursday. They reach the full-blown dunes the following day.

Pela Renet finished twelfth after stage two at 2016 Atacama Rally

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Team Coordinator Daniel Trauner confirmed Quintanilla is pushing hard and is very motivated to take the win.

Wednesday’s stage was the longest in the 2017 edition, with almost 469 km of timed special from Antofagasta to Bahía Inglesa as riders headed south in a big sweeping curve through the centre of Chile. It was hard, fast and exhausting, much of it at speeds around 150 km per hour, but there will be a change of pace and more navigation challenges in the next stage. They face 202 km of timed special with two relatively short liaison sections of 70 and 38 km as they move off the hard, fast piste and into the sandy territory. The competition concludes Saturday.

Results/Standings Atacama Rally 2016 after Stage 2 of 5 (Adjusted to reflect time penalties) 1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 3:46.53 h 2. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, +3.03 3. Paolo Goncalves (POR), Honda, +3.35 4. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, +7.03 (6 min penalty) 5. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 8.14 14. Pela Renet (FRA), Husqvarna, 47.15 (33 min penalty)

Standings after Stage 2 (Adjusted to reflect time penalties) 1. Price 6:03.02 2. Goncalves +5.12 3. Quintanilla +5:50 12. Renet +1:00.43