KEVIN BENAVIDES WON THE SECOND STAGE OF THE ATACAMA RALLY IN CHILE

The HRC Honda rider Kevin Benavides had closed the gap to seven seconds to overall rally leader Pablo Quintanilla.

However, it was a dramatic day for the Atacama Rally as they left Copiapó. A French rider named Pela Renet had an accident and was airlifted to safety by a helicopter. The stage was shortened to the neutralization zone for safety reasons. Monster Energy Honda Team rider Kevin Benavides were the fastest competitor at that point.

“I felt really good today. 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,” told Benavides.

 

“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.”

The runner up, FIM Cross Country Rallies Championship leader Sam Sunderland finished just 17 seconds behind the winner Kevin Benavides

“Today was a pretty good day. I lost a little bit through navigation, but was happy with the first part of the stage. It’s always frustrating when they cancel part of a stage because we all want to race.

“I was in a good position to make up some time but unfortunately didn’t have the chance to maximise it. There are some long, heavy days coming up so I’ll look forward to them and do my best to get to the front.”

Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team rider Franco Caimi got the third place together with his WR450F Rally Machine.

“I’m happy with my progress so far. It feels good to get a top three results for the day. The more we race the more I am getting used to my bike and I can push even harder. We’re now focusing on stage three. Tomorrow is going to be a long day and I’m more than ready for it.”

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider Pablo Quintanilla secured a fourth-place result on stage two to maintain his lead in the rally’s provisional overall standings. Aboard his FR 450 Rally Machine, Quintanilla made it easy of the extreme navigation in the special stage’s first part.

“I had a good day. I think I did well and rode a good stage making virtually no mistakes. My feeling on the bike is great, and with the hardest part of the rally coming up, I hope to keep my place at the top. I am really sad for Pela, he was riding really well. It’s always tough to know the stage has been stopped when a friend has a crash, but luckily he is fine.”

Xavier de Soultrait raced a faultless stage two thus, making his position intact inside the top three in the rally’s overall standings.

Fifth on stage two, the Frenchman is currently less than four minutes behind the rider in the provisional overall lead of the rally.

“Everything went pretty well today. I am happy with fifth for the day. I’m now third in the overall standings and that is really positive for the rest of this rally. I will keep doing my best for a good overall result.

After receiving a somewhat doubtful penalty, Paulo Gonçalves still finished the day in sixth place as well as occupying the same place in the general standings.

“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.”

Riding well through the special stage, KTM’s Laia Sanz had a rough day. Sanz came across the fallen rider Renet and stopped to help him. It took a lot of time and Sanz eventually finished in 14th place.

“Today wasn’t a good day – it’s always difficult when you come across a friend that has been in a crash,” told Sanz. “I stayed with him until help arrived and then set off again.

“I think I was riding well up to that point, but after having to deal with something like that it’s difficult to concentrate on the rest of the stage and push. I was glad to reach the finish today after such a tough stage.”

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.

 

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