atacama rally 2017 kevin benavides 1200

Photo Credit: Rallyzone

Kevin Benavides wins the fourth special to become overall Atacama Rally leader.

Monster Energy Honda Team set out to keep all options open and succeeded in the longest stage of the Atacama Rally. 

Monster Energy Honda Team’s Argentinean rider Kevin Benavides took top honours for the second time in the 2017 Atacama Rally. 

Kevin was head and shoulders above the rest of the field, storming to the top of the leader board in the overall rankings with just a day’s racing left.

“I won this fourth stage and it is my second victory so far in this Atacama Rally,” told Benavides.

“I felt great on the bike; I think I did things very well despite a slight navigation error on the final waypoint in the dunes, where I lost a bit of time. I am happy, because I am leader of the general standings with just a day to go. We will have to fight to the very end.

Reaching the finish of the event’s longest and most challenging stage without any issues, Pablo Quintanilla secured a solid runner-up result on stage four of the Atacama Rally 2017. 

The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider is currently two seconds behind the provisional overall leader one stage before the end of the rally in Iquique. 

Receiving a two-minute penalty a few hours after the finish of yesterday’s stage three, Pablo saw his four-minute lead in the overall standings being reduced to a little more than two minutes.

The first rider to start today’s stage four, the Chilean star was faced with the demanding task of opening the tracks for the first part of the special stage. 

“Today was the hardest stage of the rally,” admitted Quintanilla. “In the morning, the course was really fast but the terrain was so bumpy. There were lots of big stones and it was quite challenging to go fast. After that, the greatest difficulty was the navigation. 

“I did make a mistake and lost some time, but I believe everyone else had the same problem. I am glad that the longest stage of the rally is over and I'm just looking forward to tomorrow. 

“I’m just two seconds behind Kevin Benavides in the overall and with one more long stage to go anything can happen. I will do my best to get this victory.” 

Matthias Walkner rode his best stage of the event so far to finish as top KTM rider in third place. Walkner’s pace has improved throughout the rally and after a difficult start, the KTM 450 RALLY rider was pleased with his stage four performance and hopes to carry that form into the final day…

“That was a long day of riding today. I am suffering a little with my fitness after the summer break, and these long days really take it out of you. My speed is good, but I know it can be improved. 

“Navigation was hard, but luckily I didn’t make too many errors and I’m pleased to post the third fastest time for the day. I’ll attack the short stage tomorrow and hopefully move up the overall standings.”

Reporting: HRC Honda PR, Husqvarna PR, KTM PR


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