This second stage, the longest of the Atacama Rally, with a total of 440.88 kilometres – including 375.91 against the clock – had the start of the special stage delayed due to the usual appearance of the ‘camanchaca’, a dense local fog that kept the security helicopter, which guarantees race safety, firmly grounded. Once the action got underway, it did so over 73 kilometres less than had previously been scheduled, reducing the special to a total of 303 kilometres.
Honda’s Kevin Benavides set a cracking pace on a battle ground of mostly track, but with some off-piste where he was able to really put the Honda CRF450 Rally through its paces. By the end of the 303 kilometres, the Monster Energy Honda Team rider had opened a one-minute margin over his nearest rival.
“I am very happy to have opened the track and have won this very long 300-kilometre stage. It was very dangerous, because there were many roads, rivers, off-piste… I started out at a very good pace and I am satisfied with the concentration that I managed to maintain throughout the stage. I felt strong and I reached the end without anyone having caught me up, which was no mean task.”
Kevin Benavides now lies 1’53” ahead of Pablo Quintanilla in the general rankings after the Husqvarna rider finished the stage sixth fastest today. .
“It was a tough and physically demanding stage. Overall, my pace was good and I did my best to avoid mistakes. The terrain was a lot different to yesterday’s stage. Today we had some rocky sections but also some fast tracks. Maintaining that speed for so long had its toll on my body and I felt a bit sore on my back. I tried to move my body as much as I could on the bike to give my muscles time to relax and this seemed to work well. I’m happy the stage is over. The gap to the current overall leader is less than two minutes and with three long stages to go, anything can happen. My goal is to remain consistent and continue giving my best for a good overall result at this event.”
KTM’s Sam Sunderland placed second fastest on stage two with his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team-mates Toby Price and Matthias Walkner finishing third and fourth respectively.
Following a challenging first full day’s racing, Sam Sunderland was the 12th rider away from the start of stage two. Pushing hard to catch his rivals ahead, Sunderland rode a superb 375.91 km timed special. Despite a minor fall, the Brit’s total time of just over three-hours and 45-minutes was enough to place second fastest, just over a minute behind the eventual winner. The result elevates Sunderland to eighth place in the provisional overall standings with three days left to race.
“I am pleased with today, I started a little way behind because of my stage one resultbut tried to push right from the beginning. I caught up to a guy in front and unfortunately had a small crash when riding in the dust lifted by his bike. Despite bending my bars a little, I was able to maintain a good pace and finish second. The stage was tricky today, there were a lot of dangers on the route and some difficult terrain. I feel like I am starting to get into my rhythm now and hopefully can keep my speed going for the rest of the rally.”
Toby Price rode an intelligent stage two, Price posted the third fastest time on the long stage and successfully holding on to his third place overall, the Australian now aims to push once again on Thursday’s stage three.
“It was a good day, I enjoyed riding the stage. Navigation was tricky but I just used my experience and concentrated on keeping to the correct route. I’m happy to get the longest stage of the rally done and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Tomorrow sees the third stage of the Atacama Rally. There will be a timed special of 259.27 kilometres on a day where competitors will cover a total of 335.17 kilometres.
2018 Cross-Country Rallies
Atacama Rally 2018 – Stage Two Results
BENAVIDES Kevin ARG Honda 3:44’04
SUNDERLAND Sam GBR KTM +1’01
PRICE Toby AUS Red Bull KTM +2’05
WALKNER Matthias AUT KTM +3’00
BRABEC Ricky USA Honda +3’17
QUINTANILLA Pablo CHI Husqvarna +3’33
CAIMI Franco ARG Yamaha +4’27
GONCALVES Paulo POR Honda +5’55
VAN BEVEREN Adrien FRA Yamaha +13’04
MENA Oriol SPA Hero Motorsports +13’13
DE SOULTRAIT Xavier FRA Yamaha +14’16
SHORT Andrew USA Husqvarna +17’54
CORNEJO José Ignacio CHI Honda +20’09
GIEMZA Maciej POL KTM +30’21
RODRIGUES Joaquim POR Hero Motorsports +31’43
Atacama Rally 2018 – Provisional standings after Stage 2
BENAVIDES Monster Energy Honda Team 6:39’39
QUINTANILLA Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +1’53
PRICE Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +6’04
WALKNER Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +7’42
CAIMI Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +12’40
BRABEC Monster Energy Honda Team +17’20
GONCALVES Monster Energy Honda Team +19’06
SUNDERLAND Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +19’52
VAN BEVEREN Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +23’46
DE SOULTRAIT Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +26’10
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