Photo Credit: Barni C.
Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla got his participation in the Chilean Atacama Rally off to a perfect start with victory on stage one.
Fast and consistent Quintanilla secured victory in a challenging stage one of the Atacama Rally 2017 that marks round three of the Cross Country Rallies World Championship.
Reaching the finish of the stage without any issues the Chilean currently enjoys a lead of over one-minute at the top of the event’s provisional overall standings.
“Everything went according to plan,” told Quintanilla. “It was a difficult stage with complicated navigation but I did my best for a good result. The stage was so tricky it was almost impossible to avoid mistakes.
“It’s been the first big test at this year’s Atacama Rally and for sure there’s going to be more days like that this week. My focus now is on tomorrow’s stage two now.”
HRC Honda’s Kevin Benavides and Paulo Gonçalves posted second and third place on the looping circuit starting and finishing in Copiapó.
Benavides pulled off an excellent first stage fight-back after starting out in tenth position this morning, before battling his way through the field.
Photo Credit: RallyZone 2017
“I rode a fairly quiet special and navigated pretty well at a good pace,” said Benavides. “There were valleys, dunes and desert and even some dangers at certain points, but I felt very good on this first day of racing.”
Gonçalves displayed solid riding skills and deft navigation to finish 25” off his Monster Energy Honda Team partner.
“I had some difficulty with the pain that I still have in my hand, but it will help build confidence to continue until the end, hopefully with good performances every day,” told Goncalves.
Finishing the first full day of competition at the Atacama Rally 2017 without any difficulties, all three Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team riders are well-placed and in contention for the top three in the event's provisional standings.
Securing fourth aboard the WR450F Rally, Xavier de Soultrait was Yamaha's best-performing rider.
The Frenchman is now three minutes and 18 seconds behind the overall provisional lead.
“My plan was to get a steady pace right off the start and then start pushing as we were getting closer to the finish,” explained de Soultrait. “The race has just started for me and it sure has a long way to go. I need to stay focused and the plan for tomorrow is to slowly start reducing my small gap to the riders at the top of the provisional overall standings.”
Photo Credit: Barni C.
In what is just his second race aboard the WR450F Rally machine, team rookie Franco Caimi continued to show impressive speed and consistency.
Posting the fifth best time in the day's timed special, the Argentinean remains in contention for a top three overall finish at the Atacama Rally 2017…
“Everything went fine today. The stage wasn't too long but it did have some tricky parts. In some places it was very hard to find the correct way and also the pace set from the riders in front was quite fast.
“I did my best to remain focused but couldn't avoid a few small mistakes. Overall, I'm happy with my fifth place.”
Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing’s Sam Sunderland rode to a strong sixth place today on stage one of the Atacama Rally
“After the cancelled Prologue yesterday, I knew my start position was not good and riders behind would be able to catch the front-runners,” said Sunderland.
“With 220kms of sand special stage, the guys behind can follow the lines and easily make up time. Overall, I am happy with my riding and navigation, so I am confident going into the four remaining long days ahead."
Photo Credit: Yamaha Racing
Opting to race a cautious stage one, Adrien Van Beveren finished with a seventh-place result on the day. Taking his time to get back up to full speed following injury, the Dakar Rally sensation knows he'll have many more chances to show what he's capable of during the next four stages of the Atacama Rally 2017.
Sunderland’s team-mate, Matthias Walkner did not have such a straightforward day in the desert. A few mistakes cost him some time, but despite that, he clocked in just three minutes behind Sunderland.
The second stage from Copiapó to Cifuncho will include 25 kilometres of liaison section, 308 kilometres of special stage and a final 50 kilometre liaison section before arriving at the bivouac situated in Tal Tal.