With less than two weeks to go before the start of the first edition of the Dakar Series Rally China, the confrontation between the Chinese drivers and rally-raiding’s international elite is taking shape.
ico Fuchs, rally driver member of the Peru Adventure program, ended his participation at Rally Poland in a big way, getting the 7th place in the general standings. The Peruvian athlete, who was timed at 6h18m17s, won three of the four specials on the last day that was run last Sunday.
Orlando ‘Orly’ Terranova and Bernardo ‘Ronnie’ Graue crossed the finish podium in Tucuman in their MINI ALL4 Racing as winners of the event. The two Argentineans prevailed in each of the five special stages and in the prologue. The Desafío Ruta 40 Norte took the field – according to the road’s name – across the northern part of Argentina’s national route 40 that is located in the western part of the country, from San Juan to Tucuman.
The competitors had to cope with the most different kinds of terrains, for example with the famous dunes of Fiambala. But the teams also had to demonstrate their skills on rocky roads, in the heights and at temperatures between 0° and 30° Celsius. Furthermore, a demanding navigation turned the rally into a true challenge. The one-week event proved to be a very good preparation for the season finale – the Dakar Rally.
Terranova and Graue took the lead right away and defended it throughout the event. After their win in the prologue, they also won all the other stages without having to cope with any major problems. “The rally was more difficult than expected,” Terranova reveals. “85 percent of the route was off-road terrain and tackling it was anything but easy. Furthermore, we crossed several dunes that represented virgin soil for us. At the same time, Ronnie and I used the opportunity to improve our collaboration in the car. The rally was a great preparation for the Dakar. X-raid and the MINI worked perfectly on all the six days."
The next rally that will be contested by Team X-raid will be the ‘Rallye du Maroc’ in early October.
Pablo Quintanilla has moved to the top of the 2017 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship standings after claiming a fourth-place overall result at the Desafio Ruta 40 rally in Argentina. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider now enjoys a four-point advantage over his closest rival with one race still to be contested this season.
Nicolás Fuchs, renowned pilot and athlete of the Peru Adventure program, will participate in Rally Poland for the 9th round of the World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. In this competition, which will take place from August 31 to September 3, the athlete will try his redesigning car that was assembled in Holland.
Monster Energy Honda Team holds strong at the head of the overall standings as the Desafío Ruta 40 arrives at its halfway point. Today was the turn of Paulo Gonçalves to win the stage, trading places at the top of the leader board with team-mate Kevin Benavides – fifth on the day – who drops to second overall.
Paulo Gonçalves has established himself as the new race leader of the Desafío Ruta 40. The Portuguese rider of the Monster Energy Honda Team performed notably in the Belén desert area, showing deft riding and navigation skills during the 300 kilometre special stage. The course featured many off-piste sand sections as well as some kilometres of dunes.
Gonçalves took the start some three minutes after team-mate Kevin Benavides in the third stage, whom he caught up close to kilometre 40 when the Argentinean found himself without a GPS signal. In a fine team effort, the pair managed to hold a swift pace together, enough to guarantee the win for the Portuguese ace and fifth place for the younger sidekick who succeeded in limiting the damage of having had to wait for his team-mate. In the general standings the duo swaps first and second position, with Paulo the new leader, 2’17” ahead of Kevin.
It was a stunning performance too for the rest of the Honda CRF450 RALLY crew, Ricky Brabec and Michael Metge both proving to be very nippy off-piste whilst displaying considerable navigating prowess too. Brabec scored the day’s third fastest time as Metge posted fourth just a minute off his team-mate. The entire Monster Energy Honda Team, who had grafted hard and long yesterday to have the bikes in tip-top condition for today, are now back at the bivouac poised to take up the action tomorrow.
Tomorrow (Wednesday) sees the fourth and penultimate stage of this gruelling Desafío Ruta 40, which heads out from Belén and finishes in Tafí del Valle, in the Tucumán province. In store are 300 kilometres of perplexing navigation, with some 220 kilometres of liaison sections. Only the truly tough will make it through such a punishing day’s racing which will, once again, feature some very trial-style terrain, dried river-beds and high-speed mountain tracks that reach altitudes of up to 3000 metres above sea-level.
Paulo Goncalves: “Today we had another very difficult stage with 300 kilometres of off-piste including sandy river-beds where you could go quite fast. Then we had a few kilometres in the dunes, which were very soft and it was pretty complicated. I am very happy with the work today, as I caught up with Kevin at kilometre 40 and I ended up opening the track, arriving with very good pace and I even won the special. We must continue along this same line.”
Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing’s Matthias Walkner overcame navigational issues today to complete a very tough stage two of the 2017 Desafio Ruta 40 rally in 10th place. Team-mate Sam Sunderland crashed out of the stage after pushing hard to make up lost time after similar issues put him behind. Sunderland, who topped stage one, was forced to retire after he suffered a concussion.
Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Racing rider Sam Sunderland has claimed victory on stage one of the 2017 Desafio Ruta 40. With the conditions suiting the British rider, Sunderland rode a fast and error-free timed special stage to take the win by three minutes and 22 seconds.
Ensuring the best possible end to his week-long adventure in the dunes of Chile, Pablo Quintanilla has secured overall victory at the 2017 edition of the Atacama Rally. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider now sits just six points from the provisional lead of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, with two races to go.
Following a well-calculated plan of attack, Pablo took advantage of his good starting position to make up for time lost during yesterday’s stage four. Completing the 158km special in a total time of one hour and 35 minutes, the FR 450 Rally mounted rider regained the lead in the overall standings, going on to open up an eventual gap of more than two minutes to his closest rival.
Securing a fifth career victory at the Atacama Rally, Quintanilla has reduced the gap to the provisional leader of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship to six points.
Following a very short break, Pablo and the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team will return to action in the penultimate round of the series, the Desafio Ruta 40 in Argentina from August 25 to September 1, 2017.
Pablo Quintanilla: “This victory means a lot to me. After my injury in Qatar, I had such a tough month recovering. To return to competition here at my home round in Chile and take the win, it is such an incredible feeling. All through the event I felt fit and strong on the bike. My Husqvarna FR 450 Rally has been perfect every single day. I am glad that I have been able to close on Sam Sunderland in the championship. With two rounds remaining there is still everything to play for. It’s been a huge team effort and there are no words to thank each member of the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna squad. They have been so supportive of me after coming back from my injury. I am proud that I could reward them with a win.”
2017 Atacama Rally – Stage 5 Provisional Classification
1. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 1:35:42
2. Ignacio Cornejo (KTM) 1:35:54
3. Paulo Goncalves (Honda) 1:36:01
4. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 1:38:07
5. Xavier de Soultrait (Yamaha) 1:41:29
6. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 1:42:45
2017 Atacama Rally - Final Overall Classification
1. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 12:53:49
2. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 12:56:12
3. Paulo Goncalves (Honda) 13:05:40
4. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 13:17:04
5. Xavier de Soultrait (Yamaha) 13:27:35
6. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 13:27:54
Monster Energy Honda Team set out to keep all options open and succeeded in the longest stage of the Atacama Rally. Kevin Benavides took the stage victory and overall leadership while Paulo Gonçalves will go into the final stage well-positioned to fight for a spot on the rostrum.
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