Major Dakar competitors back in action as 2019 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship heads to Atacama Rally, Chile.
An all-star line-up is heading for the 2019 Atacama Rally with major Dakar competitors back to action at the third round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.
Just a month and a half after dominating the Silk Way Rally, Sam Sunderland heads to Chile with his eyes focused on the 2019 world title. Sunderland holds an 83 point lead in the FIM world championship but he´ll need to be on top form in Chile to take the win with strong competition from his KTM team-mates, Husqvaran duo and the full Honda Rally squad all starting.
Husqvarna's Andrew Short is second in the overall rally world championship standings with 56 points and on an upward path after claiming his first stage win at the Silk Way Rally last month. Both of them will also have to watch out for the Benavides brothers, Luciano and Kevin, as they´re tied on 51 points.
Adding spice to the mix in Chile are three former FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champions back chasing glory after having been recovering from injuries. Toby Price, 2019 Dakar winner and current world number one; Pablo Quintanilla, world champion in 2016 and 2017; and Matthias Walkner, 2015 world champion will all line up to take on 1685 kilometres of the Atacama Rally.
Honda squad in full force
The Honda Rally squad is also fully committed to the third round of the championship with all their factory riders ready. Ricky Brabec, Kevin Benavides, Ignacio Cornejo and Joan Barreda will once again try to top the KTM and Husqvarna armadas.
South American riders are also putting up a strong contingency at this year´s rally as they represent half of the FIM registered motorcycle riders, eight out of 16. With recently crowned Junior FIM Cross-Country Bajas World Champion, Tomas de Gavardo, among them.
The 2019 Atacama Rally will travel 1685km, of which 1346km are against the clock. The terrain is familiar on the whole to riders competing the Atacama in previous years with sandy tracks and gigantic dunes between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountains over five days, September 2-7.
The rally will kick off in September 2 with the prologue with five stages to follow including one no assistance ‘Marathon’ stage where no service assistance is allowed and riders will have to use the same tyre for two days.
Atacama Rally 2019 schedule:
August 31-September 1: Administrative and technical checks at Hotel Antay (Copiapó)
Super Special (prologue): September 2, Terra Amarilla @ 16.00hrs
Stage 1: September 3, Atacama-Atacama 270km
Stage 2: September 4, Atacama-Vallenar-Atacama 370km
Stage 3: September 5, Atacama-Diego de Almagro-Chañaral 370km
Stage 4: September 6, Bahía Inglesa-Atacama 300km
Stage 5: September 7, Atacama-Atacama 170km
More information: AtacamaRally.com
Photo creit: Rally Zone/Marcin Kin
Enduro21 Junior Editor