While the desert is flourishing like never before, rain and cold weather are evident at the start of the third round of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. The Atacama Rally takes place exclusively in the desert of the same name, recognised as the driest desert in the world. Here, in Chile, climate change has seen temperatures in Copiapò no more than 13°C during the day’s administration and scrutineering checks….when the sun is shining.
That said, these strange weather conditions have not stopped the riders from going to test in the immense Copiapò dunes. Pela Renet (Husqvarna) and Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) returned with a smile.
“It is always a pleasure to do a tour of the desert on the motorcycle,” commented the Frenchman. “And, despite the wet sand, there was grip, which bodes well for tomorrow.”
So Sam Sunderland, Matthias Walkner and Laia Sanz will defend KTM colours, while, at Honda, we find the oldest but no less talented of the riders, Paulo Gonçalvez, and the Argentinean Kevin Benavides.
We also welcome Yamaha France, which, for the first time, has registered its three rookies Xavier de Soultrait, Adrien Van Beveren and the Argentinean Franco Caimi.
Two British riders who reside in Dubai, David McBride and Dave Mabbs, have also made the trip to the Atacama Desert.
In quads, no less than eight riders are registered and seven in the FIM category, including Rafal Sonik, Ignacio Casale – who is preparing for the Dakar with Yamaha - Rodolfo Guillioli, Kees Koolen and Alexis Hernandez…
Tomorrow, after the press conference and the riders’ briefing, the Prologue of 14km takes place at 15.00hrs in the Copiapò dunes, 20km from the service park situated in the parking area at the Antay Hotel.
On Monday, there is a long 226km loop solely in the dunes and sand that the competitors will tackle before leaving the mining town and heading north….