Toby Price finishes second to Pablo Quintanilla at Atacama Rally 2016
Stages 1 & 2
Quintanilla took the line honors in Stage 1 but Price was just 1.13 minutes behind. Then in in the second stage, in excess of six hours over brutally fast, hard piste it was Price who was in the lead after a turbulent day that saw his rival penalized overnight by six minutes for a speed violation. This left Price ahead in the overall standings by 4.12 minutes.
Toby Price – “It was a long and unforgiving day and we got through pretty well. We had a few little navigation errors near the end but other than that it turned out to be a pretty good day. It was really long, that’s what made it difficult, but it was all really fast, wide-open piste. There wasn’t too much navigation until the end but we’re here, the bike is in good condition and I’m in good condition, so hopefully it will be like that until the end.”
Meanwhile, Matthias Walkner, KTM’s Austrian factory rider was looking more comfortable on the KTM 450 RALLY after a seven-month injury break. He was fifth in the stage just 7.03 minutes off the pace and was sixth overall.
Walkner said later that he had not felt very comfortable over the first 160km but made some adjustments to the bike set-up and felt more comfortable. “It went well for me with the navigation and although I had a couple of moments over the long day I was slowly betting back into the rhythm.”
On a day where all riders fought a battle against the dust, KTM’s Sam Sunderland was close behind Walkner and Laia Sanz finished in 13th to be 14th overall.
Price led the third stage until the 145km mark but like others lost some time due to difficulties with the road book. At the end of the day he finished third behind Quintanilla and Argentinian rider Kevin Benavides. After wrapping up the stage with a deficit of 5.29 minutes, Price remained confident.
Toby Price – “Everything is feeling really solid after a few long days on the bike, which is also a positive.”
The good news was that he trimmed the overall time difference to Quintanilla to just 21 seconds.
Stage 3 was a particularly tough one for Laia Sanz who experienced some fuel issues at the end of the stage.
Laia Sanz – “I was doing a good stage, without big mistakes and at a great pace. And after 200km in the dunes I had to walk and push the bike more than one kilometre.”
Price and Quintanilla continued to duke it out in the fourth stage, finishing 2-3 and only five seconds apart.
Sunderland had a solid day to finish fourth (sixth overall) and Walkner was sixth (fifth overall).
Sanz made a good comeback to finish the stage in 10th 17.34 minutes off the pace to move into 13th overall.
Toby Price – “Final stage today, 1min 26sec in the overall lead so it is going to be tough to hold off a strong fight! Starting in front makes it easy for other riders starting behind to see lines and follow, so I gotta try float across the Atacama Desert like this to leave no trail!”
Unfortunately it was not enough and Quintanilla took the final stage victory to Quintanilla sealed the overall win and with his victory he also leaves with a lead in the 2016 FIM World Cross-Country Rallies Championship.
KTM’s Sunderland is second by just three points and Price, who had to withdraw from the Sealine Rally in Qatar with an injury, is third.
The final round is the Oillibya Rally in Morocco at the beginning of October.
Pablo Quintanilla – 1st
“Today was a difficult stage for sure because the gap between me and Toby (Price) was very small. I had to push a lot to win and I am very happy. I have been looking for this victory for a long time. I put in a lot of work and I’ve been training hard. I’m happy and I’m also happy for my team because it is also our first victory of the season and we are now leading the championship, which is my goal. Now I need to keep up this training rhythm and focus on being 100% fit for Morocco, where I will try my best to be the world champion.”
Toby Price – 2nd
“Finished 2nd at the AtacamaRally only 29 seconds off the lead. I had a few small problems today, but it was a great way to finish off strong! Way better then my last year’s result so this is good. Can’t win them all but we are fit and healthy to fight another day!”
Kevin Benavides – 3rd
“I’m happy to have finished this rally in spite of the complications: a fall on the second day that damaged the navigation instrument panel and another one yesterday where I injured myself and lost some time. In spite of everything I think that I’ve shown good pace and those mistakes will give me something to contemplate and learn from. I’m feeling more and more comfortable with the bike and with the team. HRC have worked really long and hard and the results have been really good so I have to thank them very much.”
Paulo Goncalves – 4th
“We have finished another rally more. I have mixed feelings as I feel that I could have done better if it hadn’t been for the fall and the pain that it caused over the next couple of days. The important thing is the sensations that we come away with which are very good. Yesterday I won the stage and today I opened the track in the dunes and they only caught up with me two kilometres from the finish line. I feel as if I am improving. The difference isn’t so great. We’ve still got a couple of months work left ahead of us to work on things. I have to congratulate Team HRC for the great work that they have done on the bike.”
Ricky Brabec – 7th
“The final stage was good at full gas. It was pretty sandy so I tried to ride my race. Overall the rally was good. It was a good learning experience. There was only one really tricky day and the rest of the days were full gas. This was a really fast rally. I don’t know how these guys can do it and ride so fast on these roads. I’ll keep practicing and we’ll see where we are at for the Dakar, but I think that Honda is very solid has a really good chance with Kevin, Paulo and Joan this year.”
Martino Bianchi – Team HRC General Manager
“We have finished another rally and I think that it went well. All the riders made it through to the end. This was an important rally, but a difficult one with lots of desert, very high speeds and really good riders. The positions of our riders have been very good and would have been better were it not for a few falls. Luckily, no one was hurt which is the most important thing. Benavides’ third place shows that he is constantly growing as a rally raid rider. Paulo is a real asset, very focused on the race, fast and steady. Ricky made his debut here at the Atacama Rally and we are satisfied that we brought him out here, which has been a step forward. The young team is growing and has done very well. I would like to thank all at Honda Chile especially Fabio Mossini and all the staff at HRC who have helped out in this race. Thanks to all the fans and Honda followers throughout the world.”
Final Standings Atacama Rally 2016
- QUINTANILLA Pablo CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna 11:48’38
- PRICE Toby AUS KTM Factory Racing Team KTM +0’29
- BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Team HRC Honda +9’35
- GONCALVES Paulo POR Team HRC Honda +10’02
- SUNDERLAND Sam GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +38’43
- WALKNER Matthias AUT KTM Factory Racing Team KTM +41’46
- BRABEC Ricky USA Team HRC Honda +45’11
- CAIMI Franco ARG Honda South America Rally Team Honda +1:07’11
- CORNEJO José CHI XRaids KTM +1:17’58
- GOUET Daniel CHI KTM KTM +1:49’18