3rd Rd. Rally 2019 – Atacama Rally (CHI)
Sam Sunderland - KTM 450 RALLY - 2019 Atacama Rally

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Following a short delay due to fog blanketing the Copiapó area, riders entered Wednesday’s stage two with 294 kilometres of rocky tracks and tricky-to-navigate open pistes ahead of them. The nature of the timed special made for very high average speeds and required quick reactions and accurate navigation in order to secure a top result.

The second rider to enter the stage, Sam Sunderland immediately set about chasing down day-one winner Pablo Quintanilla. Catching his rival before the neutralisation, Sunderland then completed the stage within a three-man group, safely arriving at the finish to post the third-fastest time for the day. After two stages and close to six hours of timed special, Sam provisionally lies third overall, less than one minute from the leader.

Sam Sunderland: “It was a lot different today than yesterday – there were a lot of pistes and a lot of stones, so it was tricky to navigate, especially with the high speeds. I felt good, I made a solid pace throughout the stage and then caught Pablo toward the end so was riding in his dust for a while. I made some changes to the bike overnight and they seem to have improved my feel so I’m happy with that. I’ll keep taking things day-by-day and see what tomorrow brings.”

Completing the stage just six seconds down on teammate Sunderland, Toby Price continues to gain confidence onboard his KTM 450 RALLY. In what is only his second rally stage since his Dakar win earlier in the year, the Australian posted the fourth fastest time and now lies fifth overall just over five minutes down on the provisional leader. Enjoying the stage, Toby was happy with his performance.

Toby Price: “Today was a good day, I had a lot of fun out there and it feels really good to be riding the bike once again and enjoying the stages. It was really, really fast today, which makes it hard to focus and keep a track of the road book. All-in-all I’m happy to complete another stage safely and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

As the 10th rider to enter the day’s stage, Luciano Benavides had the luxury of several tracks ahead of him and was able to push hard on the opening half of the special. Feeling more comfortable on his bike on the high average speeds of the event, the young Argentinian posted the eighth fastest time for the day to move up to ninth in the provisional overall standings.

Luciano Benavides: “I’m happy to finish the second stage here in Chile – the first part was really fast, then the second half was rockier with tricky navigation. Overall, it was a solid stage for me – I’m trying to improve day-by-day and build my confidence in this desert as it’s all new for me. I lost less time to the leaders today so I’m happy with the result.”

Despite suffering a small crash that cost him some time overall, Matthias Walkner’s pace on the challenging stage was extremely encouraging. Feeling comfortable on both the fast, open sections and the more technical, rock-strewn riverbeds, the 2018 Dakar Rally Champion was pleased with his performance and is eager to maintain his form for the remainder of the event.

Matthias Walkner: “Things were going really good for the majority of the stage – the average speed was really high, but I felt I was riding well and making good time. Later in the day we had to cross a really rocky section and I had a small crash. Luckily, I was fine, but I damaged my GPS and had to stop to fix it. From there back to the finish, riding was really hard as I had to support the GPS and ride with one hand. On paper, it was not such a good day, but I feel my pace was really good up to that point and I’m looking forward to pushing again tomorrow.”

The third stage of the 2019 Atacama Rally marks the first half of the event's marathon stage. Riders will leave Copiapó and, following the day’s timed special, stay in a temporary bivouac overnight where they will receive no outside assistance and have to do all maintenance on their machines themselves.

Provisional Results - Stage 2 Atacama Rally 2019

1. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 3:03:10
2. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 3:04:06 +56 seconds
3. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 3:05:52 +2:42
4. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 3:05:57 +2:47
5. Andrew Short (USA), Husqvarna, 3:07:52 +4:42
Other KTM
8. Luciano Benavides (ARG), KTM, 3:11:32 +8:22
10. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 3:18:34 +15:24

Provisional Standings - Atacama Rally 2019 after 2 of 5 stages

1. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, 5:41:09
2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, 5:41:46 +37 seconds
3. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, 5:42:06 +57 secs
4. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 5:44:51 +3:42
5. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 5:46:33 +5:25
Other KTM
9. Luciano Benavides (ARG), KTM, 5:57:09 +16:01
10. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, 5:58:50 +17:42

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