Atacama Rally 2019
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price has won the extremely demanding fourth stage of the 2019 Atacama Rally. Team-mate Sam Sunderland finished a close second, just two minutes down on Price.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla placed fifth fastest on this fourth stage and led the entire timed special from start to finish, the Chilean rider goes into the final day of the event as the provisional overall rally leader.
Not only was stage four the longest of the rally at a total of 426.68 kilometres, it also marked the second half of the event’s marathons stage. With riders unable to receive any outside assistance on their bikes overnight, preserving their machine over the course of the two days was key to a top result.
It was Toby Price who excelled on the 353.92-kilometre timed special. The 2019 Dakar Champion, making his return to rally competition here at the Atacama Rally, showed he still has the speed and the endurance to claim stage wins despite still suffering a little with his wrist.
Making the most of his start position this morning in Diego de Almagro, the Australian took care not to make any mistakes on the long, arduous stage while also reeling in the three riders ahead of him. Moving up to third overall in the provisional rally standings, Price was happy with his performance.
“Stage four has gone well, I was able to push through today. The guys in front made a couple of small mistakes, and I managed to catch their dust and stay there for the rest of the day. Pablo was riding really strong up front and so it was quite a challenge to catch those guys. I was riding with Sam’s bent rear disc too from yesterday, so that meant I had to keep on pumping the brake. That made things a little bit dicey on some of the crests and hills, but I was able to get the stage win, which I am pretty pleased about. One more day tomorrow so the plan is to get out of here safe and then on to Morocco.”
Following a small mistake very early on in the stage, Sam Sunderland was caught by Price and the pair completed the remainder of the long stage together. By maintaining such a strong pace, the British rider was able to make up valuable time on provisional rally leader Pablo Quintanilla and now trails the Chilean rider by less than one minute going into the final stage.
“Yeah, it was the second half of the marathon stage today so obviously we’re trying to look after the bikes as best as we can and the tyres are a bit worn, but it’s the same situation for everybody. It was a really long stage today too, I enjoyed it but there were a lot of rocky, technical bits before we reached the dunes. I made a bit of a mistake early on by not riding directly on the train tracks, Toby caught me pretty soon after that but we kept up a good rhythm for the rest of the day and ended up finishing first and second. I’m looking forward to the last stage tomorrow now.”
Saturday’s fifth and final stage of the 2019 Atacama Rally covers a total of 260.13 kilometres. A 184.59-kilometre timed special will challenge riders once again with fast pistes and rocky terrain on their way to the chequered flag.
Pablo Quintanilla – Rally Leader
“I’m feeling good right now. After the marathon stage I’m happy with the race and how things are going. Today was really tough, I led the entire stage at the front all day and it was really tricky to stay focused for so long. Keeping to a good rhythm on such a fast stage like that isn’t easy but I feel that day-by-day I’m getting more used to being back on the bike again. I’ve got a good start for tomorrow’s stage now so all being well, I should have a good chance at the podium.”
Stage 4 Atacama Rally 2019
1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 4:07:28
2. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 4:09:37 +2:09
3. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 4:09:58 +2:30
4. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 4:11:54 +4:26
5. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, 4:13:09 +5:41
Atacama Rally 2019 after 4 of 5 stages
1. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, 13:17:57
2. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 13:18:51 +54 seconds
3. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 13:23:17 +5:20
4. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 13:24:39 +6:42
5. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 13:26:56 +8:59