Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider Pablo Quintanilla has gained the provisional overall lead at the 2018 Atacama Rally after the first full rally stage contested in Copiapó. Following his strong performance in the short opening Prologue, the Chilean rally star has secured a solid runner-up result on stage one and is now leading the overall by one minute and 40 seconds going into Wednesday’s stage two.

Atacama Rally – Provisional Overall Classification after Stage 1:
1. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna), 2. Kevin Benavides (Honda), 3. Toby Price (KTM), 4. Matthias Walkner (KTM), 5. Franco Caimi (Yamaha)

Taking advantage of his good starting position Pablo was able to maintain a steady pace from the start to the finish of the timed special. Posting a total time of two hours, 52 minutes and 23 seconds, Pablo was just four seconds behind eventual stage one winner Kevin Benavides.

Pablo Quintanilla: “It’s been a good day and I’m really satisfied with my performance on stage one. This was the first full rally stage after my small injury and I felt even better than I expected. I was able to find a good race pace and maintain it until the end of the timed special. The way I rode today gives me some extra motivation for the remainder of this rally. I feel good on my bike at the moment and enjoy every moment of it. Tomorrow will probably be one of the hardest days of this rally. We’re heading towards a new area and the terrain and conditions are expected to be quite challenging. There’ll be some off-piste sections so it’s crucial to remain focused and avoid mistakes. I’ll do my best for another good result tomorrow.”

Andrew Short: “Some big dunes along the way…”

Earning a strong third place result in the event’s Prologue, Andrew Short also enjoyed a good starting position for Tuesday’s stage one. Putting in a steady performance in the dunes of Chile, the American posted the 12th best time for the day and is currently sitting 11th in the rally’s provisional overall standings.

Andrew Short: “This first full stage here of this rally was a great experience. It gave me a good taste of how things are here in Chile and how fast the tracks are. I’ve never done a course that’s more wide open or where you had to keep the throttle at the stop for that long. After a bit of adjustment to these new conditions I could ride the way I know I can and have fun. There were some big dunes along the way and it was great riding through them. The goal is to continue improving and making steps towards the right direction each day. Hopefully I’ll try to push to the next level each day while trying to remain safe and make it to the finish of this rally.” (source: husqvarna motorcycles)

STORY: Pablo Quintanilla inside the top six on the longest stage
STORY: Toby Price claims third on Stage One of 2018 Atacama Rally
STORY: Husqvarna Factory look forward to Atacama Rally 2018
STORY: KTM Factory Racing head to Chile to race 2018 Atacama Rally

LINK: Atacama Rally
LINK: Husqvarna Motorcycles

photos (c) Rally Zone