Rallye

Walkner Takes 2018 Atacama Rally Stage Four Win as Toby Price Jumps To Second Overall

Author: Garry Morrow

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Matthias Walkner was the 4th different stage winner in 4 stages contested so far. Credit: Rally Zone
Matthias Walkner has taken the win on a demanding 2018 Atacama Rally stage four with Australian Toby Price carding his best stage with second place and a jump to second in the overall.

Rally leader Pablo Quintanilla dropped to third overall after a navigational mistake saw him finish 12th on the stage. Monster Energy Honda's Kevin Benavides was 5th home and assumed the Rally overall lead at the end of the penultimate stage.

The 253.54km timed special of stage four threw up a few surprises for the competitors with a mixture of fast tracks and some technical terrain. Covering an area already used in this year‰Ûªs rally, traces already in the Chilean desert caused some confusion for the riders and careful navigation was necessary to post a good time.
Australian Toby Price had his best stage finishing second and moving to second overall. Photo: Rally Zone
Using his experience Matthias Walkner was able to master the challenging stage and ultimately post the fastest time of the day. Despite a couple of minor errors early on in the stage, the Austrian came home in first place, which in turn moved him up to fourth in the provisional overall standings.

‰ÛÏIt was a good day today. I was worried at first after losing some time near the beginning of the stage ‰ÛÒ there were a few dangers I was careful over and could have perhaps attacked a little harder," Walkner explained. "From then on, I kept my head down and just aimed to reach the finish quickly and safely. Navigation was tough with so many tracks laid down already, you had to rely on your skill to keep to the correct route. I am happy to take the win and I‰Ûªm looking forward to tomorrow‰Ûªs last stage.‰Û
Monster Energy Honda's Kevin Benavides moved back into the Rally lead courtesy of an equal 5th place and a bad day from leader going onto the stage, Pablo Quintanilla. Photo: Rally Zone
Completing another fast and consistent day, Toby Price finished just 22 seconds down on Walkner. Happy with his riding, Price sits second in the provisional overall standings, just over three minutes down on the rally leader Kevin Benavides. With one stage to go, Toby will be looking to wrap up his week-long Chilean adventure on a high note.

‰ÛÏOverall I am happy with how the stage went, second fastest is good and I was able to close the gap on the overall leader. I am a little frustrated because I relaxed a bit toward the end and missed a cap, so that cost me a little time. But I‰Ûªm happy to be here in one piece after such a quick stage and I‰Ûªll push again on the last 150km tomorrow. If I can stay on the podium that will be great," Price said.
A small navigational mistake cost World Champion Pablo Quintanilla the lead. the Chilean star came home in 12 place on stage 4. Photo: Rally Zone.
Yamaha's Franco Caimi came home in third ahead of a trio of Monster Energy Honda's in Ignacio Cornejo, Kevin Benavides and Paulo Goncalves. Caimi's third place strengthend hsi overall place in 5th.

A sixth place finish for Benavides proved enough to take back the leadership, as the Atacama Rally heads towards its final stage. Benavides had dropped precious minutes in search of an awkward waypoint located in the final stretches of the special. The Argentine does, however, sport a three minute-advantage over today‰Ûªs stage runner-up Toby Price.

"Today I felt very good; I was pushing with good pace right until the end, where I made a minor mistake in a complicated note," Benavides said. "I had been following my own navigation but there were other riders up ahead and it would have been easy to try to follow their tracks. I'm focused on the race and fighting to get a good result. Tomorrow will be the last stage and I will have to go out to defend the position in the general and give it everything that I can."
Brit Sam Sunderland was forced to retire after hitting a rock and breaking his foot. Credit: Rally Zone.
Following his victory on stage three, Pablo Quintanilla was faced with the demanding task of opening the tracks for Friday‰Ûªs penultimate stage of the rally. Enjoying an impressive pace for the majority of the timed special, the Chilean rally star suffered a small navigational mistake just 35km before the finish of the 253km long special.

As a result Quintanilla dropped to 3rd in the overall.

‰ÛÏI was feeling great after my win yesterday and decided to push from the beginning of the timed special. Everything was working well and I managed to make up some extra time during the day," Quintanilla explained.

"I was opening the tracks from the start but 217km into the special I got confused and went off-piste for almost 8km. I had to return to validate the previous waypoint and lot of time until I got back on the right tracks. Nothing is lost yet. We might just have a 150km special tomorrow but I will give my best to make up the time lost. So far it‰Ûªs been a great rally for us and I am feeling better and better on the bike. Our main goal remains to get as much points as possible for the championship.‰Û
Former AMA motocross star Andrew Short is gaining plenty of experience with stage 4 being the American's best so far finishing 9th and now 9th overall. Photo: Rally Zone
2017 Dakar Rally Champion Sam Sunderland was unfortunately forced to retire from the rally after clipping a hidden rock eight kilometres into the timed special and injuring his foot. Medical staff have since diagnosed a fracture of the second metatarsal in Sam‰Ûªs right foot.

‰ÛÏObviously I am massively disappointed to retire, especially as I was feeling really good out there and knew I had a good chance of making up some time today," Sunderland lamented. "It‰Ûªs frustrating to have injured myself as it will mean I‰Ûªm off the bike for the next few weeks, but I am grateful it wasn‰Ûªt anything more serious as the mistake happened on a really fast part of the track.‰Û
Aussie Toby Price is now only 3 minutes off the lead with one stage remaining. Photo: RallyZone

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