After passing through pre-race scrutineering complication-free, Monster Energy Honda Team are now poised to tackle the seventh edition of the Atacama Rally, beginning in Copiapó, with the duo Paulo Gonçalves and Kevin Benavides.
The final day before the bikes go into action in the Chilean desert for the 2017 Atacama Rally, was a day of last minute preparations for the Monster Energy Honda Team; a final chance to set up the two Honda CRF450 RALLY bikes and get them through the technical and administrative checks – the day went without a hitch.
The rain has recently made its presence felt in the world’s most arid desert and could prove to be a decisive factor in some of the forthcoming five stages; however the forecast for now is sunny conditions.
This afternoon the race gets underway with a short, fourteen-kilometre prologue on the outskirts of Copiapó. As usual, a speedy start will be essential to guarantee a good overall position. Paulo Gonçalves and Kevin Benavides both arrive at the event highly-motivated and will be aspiring for top-position overall results by the time the Atacama Rally concludes next week.
Tomorrow sees the first full stage, a loop beginning and ending in Copiapó with a total of 272.47 kilometres with 226.18 of these against the clock.
"I recently had a fall in which I suffered a dislocation in my hand and I’m not fully recovered yet. Yesterday we had the 'shakedown' and everything was in place, the bike’s running perfectly, so I hope that the race will go well. It is an important test because it will be good preparation for the Dakar. In the championship I am close to second place in the overall standings and although I would have preferred to come here without any problems, we will nevertheless do our best to finish ahead."
"I am very happy to be able to do a good season of training. I feel much better with the recovery of my hand, which is at almost 100%. I am excited to compete in another world championship event with Paulo. We have been able to test out the bike, and it’s working very well. The performance is superior and we are very excited about that. I am happy with the team and to be able to work with them. The complicated moments have passed and now there are three world championship dates where we will show the same passion and will as always. The Chilean desert is a great place, I often train here and I have to say it is very beautiful. It will be a tough yet interesting race, where we will have to pay special attention to the navigation and take care of ourselves physically. Also the terrain could be a factor because the recent rain will have left a few hazards. As I’ve already mentioned, I feel confident that I will have a good race."
Raul Castells, Monster Energy Honda Team Manager
"The team is now ready to get the Atacama Rally underway. The riders, the mechanics and all the rest of the staff have worked really hard and are really looking forward to this race. When we got to Copiapó we prepared the bikes to be able to attack right from the start in what could be a complicated rally, like all world championship events. Our aim is to get as much mileage under our belts as possible in the build-up to the Dakar 2018 and we have very high expectations for this Atacama Rally."
Source Monster Energy Honda Team