The Atacama Rally, on Chilean soil, turned out to be hugely successful for Monster Energy Honda Team’s Argentinean rider Kevin Benavides, who clinched overall victory and the leadership of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.
The final day, on a 155-kilometre looping route, starting and finishing in Copiapó, was battled out over the same course that had been used in Stage One. Competitors had to have their wits about them and were faced with some challenging navigation in the dunes as well as some off-piste and dry river beds.
Kevin Benavides rounded off the Atacama Rally as he had started; proving to be the sharpest rider in the race, claiming the final stage and the overall rally victory after an intense final day. The Argentine dominated, stamping his mark of authority throughout the stage and leaving adversaries unable to keep his trail. Moreover, the victory takes Benavides and the Honda CRF450 RALLY to the head of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship leader board, where he now shares the same points as the incumbent world champion.
The next appointment for the competitors will be at the Desafío Ruta 40 in Argentina to be held at the end of next week. The race will take place from 25th to 31st August getting underway in San Miguel de Tucumán and concluding in San Juan.
FINAL OVERALL: 1ST
I’m very happy; it has been an amazing Atacama Rally for me. I won three stages and I felt very comfortable on the bike, which has worked perfectly throughout the even. The team has worked very well and this has given me the tools needed for the victory. I was able to stay very focused and was confident in myself. Winning here is not easy – Quintanilla is very strong. I’ve been looking forward to this victory for a long time and I’m really savouring it!
Results Stage 5
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap 1 BENAVIDES Kevin 2 ARG Monster Energy Honda Team 1:40’10 2 PRICE Toby 11 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +1’18 3 QUINTANILLA Pablo 1 CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +2’00 4 WALKNER Matthias 3 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +2’28 5 GONCALVES Paulo 4 POR Monster Energy Honda Team +3’28 6 CORNEJO José Ignacio 10 CHI Monster Energy Honda Team +3’49 7 BRABEC Ricky 15 USA Monster Energy Honda Team +5’16 8 CAIMI Franco 8 ARG Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +9’33 9 VAN BEVEREN Adrien 6 FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +10’01 10 DE SOULTRAIT Xavier 9 FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team +10’06