Benavides and Casale win stage two

Atacama Rally
Second stage: Copiapó – Taltal
Link section: 25 km – Special: 308 km – Link section: 49.63 km – Total: 328.63 km

Yesterday, after the FIM Jury meeting, the bike and quad rankings were somewhat rearranged with a 6’ penalty for speeding going to Paulo Gonçalves (Honda) and 1’10 hours’ worth of penalties to Giovani Enrico (Yamaha), in quad…

As they awoke this morning, the riders discovered Copiapó shrouded by the camanchaca, a local fog caused by the proximity of the Cordillera de los Andes, the desert and the Pacific Ocean. The second stage was therefore delayed as the helicopter was unable to fly, and it was midday when Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna), winner of the first Special, set out under a splendid sun.

Unfortunately, at km 43.8 km, his team mate Pela Renet crashed badly on a danger 2, breaking his left shoulder and hurting his neck. Daniel Gouet (KTM) and Laia Sanz (KTM) stopped to help him. They will obviously be credited with the time they spent with their injured comrade. The French rider was transported by helicopter to a private clinic in Copiapó.

The race was stopped with a neutralisation at CP5, at km163, to ensure the riders’ safety while the helicopter was unavailable. Kevin Benavides (Honda) won the second selective sector in1h39’25 with a lead of 17 seconds over Sam Sunderland (KTM) and 38 seconds over Franco Caimi (Yamaha): “I felt really good today”, said the young Argentinian at the finish. “I quickly found a good pace and kept it all through the stage. At first, there was a lot of sand, valleys and navigation, up to km 70. After than it was much faster…. I wanted to get a good place, maybe not win, but I am very happy with this victory. There are three days to go and it will be a challenge to find the best possible strategy.  I am really sorry about Pela and I hope he makes a speedy recovery.”

Sam Sunderland (KTM) came in second followed by Franco Caimi (Yamaha) and Pablo Quintanilla, who is still top of the provisional leader board. “It was a good day for me”, said the Chilean. “I opened the trail and the navigation was tricky. I rode well and didn’t make any mistakes. The bike is running perfectly and I hope to keep my position as leader, but the hardest part of the rally is still to come. I am sad for Pela. He was riding really well and it’s always sad to know that the race has been stopped because a friend has gone down. I’m glad to hear he’s OK.”

In quad, Ignacio Casale (Yamaha) pursued his winning streak, building up a provisional overall lead of 22’ over Kees Koolen (Yamaha) and 23’ over Peru’s Alexis Hernandez (Yamaha).

Full classification:

Provisional standings of Special 2, motorcycles
1. Kevin Benavides (Honda) in 1h39’25
2. Sam Sunderland (KTM) at 0’17
3. Franco Caimi (Yamaha) at 0’38
4. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) at 1’03
5. Xavier de Soultrait (Yamaha) at 1’39

Provisional overall standings, motorcycles
1. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) in 4h03’40
2. Kevin Benavides (Honda) at 0’7
3. Xavier de Soultrait (Yamaha) at 3’54
4. Franco Caimi (Yamaha) at 6’12
5. Sam Sunderland (KTM) at 6’15

Provisional standings of Special 2, quads
1. Ignacio Casale (Yamaha) in 2h04’46
2. Kees Koolen (Yamaha) at 5’05
3. Rafal Sonik (Yamaha) at 9’40

Provisional overall standings, quad
1. Ignacio Casale (Yamaha) in 5h11’22
4. Kees Koolen (Yamaha) at 22’50
1. Rafal Sonik (Yamaha) at 23’10

FIM Communications