Team HRC’s trio of riders Paulo Gonçalves, Kevin Benavides and Ricky Brabec continue to rub shoulders the leaders in the Atacama Rally in spite of suffering the severity of the rally’s longest stage.

It was a long and tough stage today at the Atacama Rally around the spectacular ‘Hand of the Desert’ in Antofagasta. The second 460 kilometre stage was fought out over some very rapid and rock-filled off-piste areas as riders also got their first taste of the dunes of Bahía Inglesa towards the end of the run.

Team HRC headed out poised to attack, hoping to pull back some time and improve on overall times. However both Paulo Gonçalves and Kevin Benavides crashed in separate incidents. Portuguese Gonçalves had got off to a swift start but fell injuring his abdomen forcing a stage strategy rethink. The rider went into damage limitation mode, cutting the risks and managing to make it home without significant loss of time. Gonçalves holds third place overall.

Likewise, Kevin Benavides was also to crash in a high-speed zone on one of the shorter tracks. The impact damaged the front end of the Honda CRF450 RALLY although the Argentine fortunately escaped without injury. Pressing on, he was able to post a third spot on the day, just several minutes behind the stage winner. The rider from Salta now lies in fourth in the general rankings.

Ricky Brabec continues with his apprenticeship in the Chilean desert on his first participation in the Atacama Rally. After a rapid start the American slowed down the pace in the second part of the special, but remains in the top five in the general standings.

Tomorrow, Thursday, will see the third stage disputed around the Bahía Inglesa loop which will take in over 200 kilometres of the Copiapó region where navigation could prove to be decisive.

Paulo Goncalves

STAGE: 3rd OVERALL: 2nd

We’ve finished the longest stage of the rally: full on, really difficult and with loads of navigation and fast track with rocks. I’m really happy with the bike: the work that we have been putting in is paying off. I fell at kilometre 14 and I injured myself in the abdomen area. I’m happy that I made it back without any other problems and I’m pleased with the way that the bike is performing.

Kevin Benavides

STAGE: 2nd OVERALL: 4th

Things were going really well until the neutralization, but after I just wanted to get it out the way as quickly as possible. When I started the second part, I was very motivated. There was a ridge that wasn’t marked in the roadbook and I fell. I broke the navigation instrument panel and had to finish with it loose. I had to hang on to it with one hand to not do any more damage but the bike held up really well in spite of everything. Now it’s time to focus on the stage tomorrow.

Ricky Brabec

STAGE: 5th OVERALL: 5th

Today was the longest stage of the rally, with 467 kilometres of special and was actually quite a fast one. The ending was sandy for the last ten to twenty kilometres. It went well but I lost concentration a bit after the restart and slowed down a bit. It was a tough stage. So now we will see where we are but I’m happy and looking forward to riding again tomorrow.

Private: Martino Bianchi

Monster Energy Honda General Manager

The second stage was far from being an easy one for Team HRC. Paulo fell in the first part and Kevin Benavides in the second. I’m very pleased that the falls weren’t serious like they could easily have been. No one got injured and they will be able to carry on. It has been a long and tough day with a quite fast special with rocks and some dunes towards the end. They lost a bit of time, but nothing dramatic. The riders are all well-situated in the general standings and can still make an impact overall. Ricky Brabec was going really well in the first part but gave away a bit of time in the second, but he is doing well in the overall standings. Thanks a lot to the mechanics who are doing a great job here and thanks to all the fans who are following us all around the globe.

2016 Cross-Country Rallies
Stage Round R4 , 2   Chile

Stage 2 results (updated with penalties)

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 Price Toby AUS KTM Factory Racing Team KTM 3:46'53
2 Benavides Kevin ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +3'03
3 Goncalves Paulo POR Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +3'35
4 Quintanilla Pablo CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +7'03
5 Brabec Ricky USA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +8'06
6 Walkner Matthias AUT KTM Factory Racing Team KTM +8'14
7 Sunderland Sam 5 GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +8'30
8 Caimi Franco ARG Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +17'47
9 Cornejo José Ignacio 'Nacho' CHI Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +18'27
10 Prohens Felipe CHI Team Hermanos Prohens KTM +29'10
2016 Cross-Country Rallies
Stage Round R4 , 2   Chile

Provisional Standings after Stage 2 (updated with penalties)

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 Price Toby AUS KTM Factory Racing Team KTM 6:03'02
2 Goncalves Paulo POR Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +5'12
3 Quintanilla Pablo CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +5'50
4 Benavides Kevin ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +6'09
5 Brabec Ricky USA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +12'31
6 Walkner Matthias AUT KTM Factory Racing Team KTM +19'29
7 Sunderland Sam 5 GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +25'18
8 Caimi Franco ARG Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +29'55
9 Cornejo José Ignacio 'Nacho' CHI Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +32'23
10 Prohens Felipe CHI Team Hermanos Prohens KTM +49'38
Location Information

This is your invitation to live the Atacama Rally 2017, Third Round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship and meeting of the CODASUR-FIA South American Cross-Country Rally Championship. The Atacama 2017 will be unique, traversing the immensity of the Atacama Desert, from the heart of the dunes in Copiapó City… read more.

Copiapó, Chile - View in Google Maps