Local KTM rider Pablo Quintanilla set the pace on the opening day as the fifthround of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship got underway in Chile.
Torrential downpours over the last few weeks, which have left the tracks and race route in a poor state, finally forced race officials to drastically reduce the length of the opening stage of the Atacama Rally.
The opening stage of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship’s first visit to South America this year was thus reduced to a fifteen kilometre route that was raced over two laps.
Paulo Gonçalves, after clocking the fastest time in yesterday’s prologue, had the privilege of choosing today’s starting position as the rally headed off from Viña del Mar. The Portuguese rider on the Honda CRF450 Rally set off hoping to gain time on his rivals up ahead. Nevertheless, an unexpected electrical fault in the dunes held Paulo up and saw him concede time to adversaries.
Paulo Goncalves – 15th – “Today started just the way we didn’t want it to. After winning the prologue yesterday, I had a good starting position. Today we started the stage with a route of two fifteen kilometre loops in the area of the dunes. Unfortunately, I had an electrical problem in the first timed section and I was stopped for over an hour. Now, we have to carry on, get some kilometres done and face up to what we have got and improve it to arrive at the Dakar as best we can.”
Pablo Quintanilla leads Britain’s Sam Sunderland and Toby Price rounds out the top three on what is the Australian’s debut as a fully factory backed KTM Rally rider.
Toby Price – “Day 1 is in the books, running in 3rd and the top six are all KTM and only split by 4-minutes.. Today’s ride was 420km…Now it’s 2-3 hours of road book marking and then off to bed.”
Fourth on stage one was Austrian Mathias Walkner, while Frenchman Antoine Meo and Spaniard Jordi Villadoms made it an all-KTM top six.
Tomorrow sees the second stage of the Atacama Rally with a special stage of 367.30 kilometres from La Serena to Atacama.
Atacama Rally 2015 – Stage One Results
QUINTANILLA Pablo CHI KTM Warsaw Rally Team 40’23
SUNDERLAND Sam GBR KTM Red Bull Rally Factory + 1’00
PRICE Toby AUS KTM AUS Rally Factory + 2’17
WALKNER Mathias AUT KTM Red Bull Rally Factory + 4’08
MEO Antoine FRA KTM Red Bull Rally Factory + 4’17
VILADOMS Jordi SPA KTM Red Bull Rally Factory + 4’45
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