Atacama Rally: Pablo Quintanilla in the lead
Update: August 23: Stage 1: Antofagasta – Antofagasta | Liaison: 78.58 km – Stage: 231 km – Liaison: 237.78 km – Total: 547.36 km
Chilean rider Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) conquered the victory of the first stage in the Atacama Rally, which is the fourth leg of the FIM Cross Country World Championship. The stage was composed of 231 km between Antofagasta and Calama. In quads, the victory was for Rafal Sonik (Yamaha).
The stage was considered quite complex as it took competitors towards the world’s driest places crossing tracks, roads and mountain skirts that kept the dust in the air without any kind to take it away. Even though the start was difficult, Quintanilla was able to put a good strategy in place that led him to the victory.
After the Prologue on Monday, another Chilean rider, Jordano Sepulveda (KTM) was responsible for opening the tracks, followed by Daniel Gouet, and French rider Pierre-Alexander Renet (Husqvarna), Argentinean Kevin Benavides (Honda CRF) and Portuguese Paulo Gonçalves.
Favorite riders including Matthias Walkner (KTM), Sam Sunderland (KTM) and Toby Price (KTM) took the decision to start after the tenth place to avoid the responsibility of road opening, but this strategy backfired as they found lots of fesh-fesh suspended in the air, making it a very difficult stage.
Wednesday, the stage will find similar routes as today, ad competitors enter the Atacama Desert with dunes and more fesh-fesh, with a total of 468 km and a special stage of 404 km before arriving to the magical landscape of Bahia Inglesa in Copiapo.