A positive all-round day for Monster Energy Honda as the team clinched the day’s top two positions: the stage win and the overall leadership for Kevin Benavides and runner-up spot for Joan Barreda on the day.
Today saw one of the longest stages of the rally with a total of 375 kilometres. The start of the 295-kilometre special was delayed for an hour after the appearance of fog along various stretches of the route between Copiapó and Vallenar. The day served up a combination of fast track, rivers, fesh-fesh, as well as some rocky mountain paths.
A high-speed Kevin Benavides, claimed the top honours with a pace that allowed him to chase down the top two riders from the previous day. As well as clinching the stage win, the rider also leaps to the top in the general standings of the Atacama Rally. Joan Barreda was likewise showing fiery pace to finish second, less than a minute adrift of his team-mate, also improving his position in the general rankings.
Local rider José Ignacio Cornejo chose to follow the pace of the riders ahead on a complicated stone-filled track. In spite of dropping time, he remains in a good position to take maximum advantage of tomorrow’s marathon stage. Ricky Brabec was unable to shine today, but managed to overcome a minor fall without excessive loss of time. In the general standings, the American remains at less than ten minutes from his Argentinean Monster Energy Honda team-mate, with plenty of chance to make headway in what remains of the race.
Tomorrow, Thursday sees the third stage from Atacama to Diego de Almagro with the bivouac located in Chañaral. This will be the first part of the marathon stage. When the stage finishes after 370 kilometres, riders will not be allowed to seek outside mechanical assistance should they need to service their bikes, instead having to rely on their own technical skills to carry out any repairs.