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SEVENTH OVERALL FOR PABLO QUINTANILLA AT 2021 DAKAR RALLY

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla has safely completed the 12th stage of the 2021 Dakar Rally, securing a seventh-place overall event result after almost 49 hours of racing.

In what was an incredibly testing 43rd edition of the Dakar, covering over 7,500km through the varied terrain of the middle eastern desert, Quintanilla stayed strong to put in solid results day after day, which ultimately paid off and enabled him to secure his top-10 finish. Despite struggling to feel comfortable during the early stages of the event, the Chilean worked hard with his team to find a good set-up and was ultimately able to settle into a fast rhythm later in the race, claiming a runner-up result on stage 11.

The 12th and final stage of the rally didn’t go Pablo’s way. Setting off second and pushing for another strong result, he lost time after struggling to find one waypoint. Settling for a safe finish to his race, the former FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion carried on to the end of the timed special, claiming 21st fastest. Although not securing the result he had hoped for coming into the race, Quintanilla was positive about his performance and the event as a whole.

Luciano Benavides, who sadly crashed out of the race on stage nine had also shown encouraging pace, with the young Argentinian sitting safely inside the top 10 overall at the point of his withdrawal. Benavides will now take some time to rest and heal the shoulder he injured in his crash and hopes to be back onboard his FR 450 Rally as soon as possible.

Pablo Quintanilla: “Finally the race is over and I’m happy to finish another Dakar. For sure, we didn’t receive the result we had hoped for but over the whole race we worked really hard as a team and were able to identify a few things we can improve. I’m happy with my riding, especially on what was such a tough event, and my fitness has been good too. To finish inside the top 10 is always good and seventh is still an extremely good result, I just know I should be fighting for the podium. We’ll go away and work hard now this year and we’ll definitely be back stronger in 2022.”

Pela Renet – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Rally Team Manager: “So, Dakar is over for another year. Pablo finished in seventh position, which is a strong result, but definitely a little disappointing for him and the team. After his second-place finish last year, we know he is capable of fighting for the win, but as it happened, this year it was just not possible. But this is Dakar, and he will come back stronger. For Luciano, it’s a great shame he got injured and had to retire, but his injury is not too bad. He will require some surgery and some time off the bike, but he will be back soon I’m sure. He definitely showed some good speed over the race and was doing a very good job on the day he crashed. Finally, a big thank you to the whole Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team. They did an incredible job and worked very hard and even when things were not going so well, everyone held their heads up and did their best, so thank you again to all.”

2021 Dakar Rally – Stage 12 Provisional Classification

1. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 2:17:02
2. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 2:19:19
3. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 2:21:15
4. Skyler Howes (KTM) 2:22:51
5. Daniel Sanders (KTM) 2:24:13
6. Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco) 2:27:33

21. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 2:44:50

2021 Dakar Rally – Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 12)

1. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 47:18:14
2. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 47:23:10
3. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 47:34:11
4. Daniel Sanders (KTM) 47:57:06
5. Skyler Howes (KTM) 48:10:47
6. Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco) 48:16:44

7. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 48:44:53


RUNNER-UP FINISH ON STAGE 11 FOR QUINTANILLA AT DAKAR 2021

ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING RIDER PUTS IN STORMING PERFORMANCE ON PENULTIMATE DAY OF RACING TO MOVE UP TO SEVENTH PLACE OVERALL

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla has delivered his best result of the 2021 Dakar Rally to date with an excellent second-place finish on a highly challenging day 11. Never dropping below the top three for the entire 464km special, Quintanilla ultimately brought his FR 450 Rally home as runner-up, less than three minutes down on the eventual stage winner.

Presenting riders with varied terrain throughout the stage, the penultimate day at Dakar lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest. Technically demanding navigation and a huge area of soft dunes, covering almost 100km, were the highlights of the route that led south from AlUla to Yanbu.

Struggling to find his rhythm over the last few stages, Pablo Quintanilla came into form where it mattered most with the experienced Chilean racer putting in an impressive performance, coming from a 15th place start to claim second at the finish. Overtaking a considerable number of competitors, Pablo was the leading rider on time at the third checkpoint. Losing a few minutes to the eventual stage winner over the dunes, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing star dropped down to second – a place he held right to the line. His excellent showing on the challenging stage resulted in Quintanilla moving one-place higher in the provisional rally standings to seventh.

Pablo Quintanilla: “It has been a great stage for me today. We made some changes to the bike overnight and today things felt really good and I was comfortable enough to push. In the morning it was really dusty because I started quite far behind and it was difficult to pass some riders. But after the first neutralisation I started to find my rhythm, I was happy with the navigation and I was able to start making up some time. The stage was a tricky one with mixed terrain such as some rocky sections, some dunes, but it was quite tiring, especially when I was pushing all day. I ran out of water and started to feel a little dizzy towards the end and made a little mistake with my navigation. Overall, I really enjoyed the stage. It’s nice to be able to ride at the pace I know I’m capable of and we’ll keep pushing for a good result.”

Stage 12 of the Dakar, the final outing for all riders at this year’s race, leads from Yanbu to Jeddah. Covering a total of 452km, 225km of which will be timed special, the stage will once again take in a mixture of fast tracks and soft, desert dunes on the way to the final chequered flag of the event.

2021 Dakar Rally – Stage 11 Provisional Classification

1. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 4:35:12
2. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 4:37:52
3. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 4:41:36
4. Daniel Sanders (KTM) 4:43:46
5. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 4:44:39
6. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 4:47:58

2021 Dakar Rally – Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 11)

1. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 45:01:44
2. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 45:05:56
3. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 45:08:57
4. Daniel Sanders (KTM) 45:34:49
5. Skyler Howes (KTM) 45:50:51
6. Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco) 45:51:10

7. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 46:02:02


PABLO QUINTANILLA SAFELY COMPLETES DAKAR STAGE 10

ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING RIDER PROVISIONALLY SITS EIGHTH IN THE OVERALL STANDINGS WITH TWO DAYS LEFT TO RACE

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla has successfully completed stage 10 of the 2021 Dakar Rally. On another tough day that challenged competitors with some very fast terrain and tricky navigation throughout, Quintanilla brought his FR 450 Rally home in 15th position and now lies eighth in the provisional overall standings.

In what was an uneventful stage for Quintanilla, the Chilean left the bivouac early this morning to head for AlUla. Following just over three and a half hours of racing against the clock, he completed the technically demanding special in 15th.

Continuing to place consistently despite the ultra-tough stages, Pablo now sits comfortably inside the top 10 of the provisional standings. With Thursday’s stage 11 combining the longest timed special of the event with some extremely difficult navigation through a huge area of dunes, it looks set to be one of the most challenging of the rally. Quintanilla hopes his knowledge and experience will come to the fore and aid him in securing a top result while closing down the riders ahead of him in the general rankings.

Pablo Quintanilla: “Another stage done and I’m happy to get to the finish. I’m still struggling to find a good rhythm on the different types of terrain, but I’m trying my best and happy with my overall result. We have two days left now and tomorrow looks like it will be a very long, tough stage. I will get some rest tonight and then set off tomorrow and hopefully put in a good ride for a strong result.”

Day 11 of the Dakar Rally, the penultimate of the event, contains the longest timed special of the race. At 511km, the special will challenge all competitors with varied terrain including a 100km section of dunes in the middle of the stage that heads from AlUla to Yanbu.


PABLO QUINTANILLA NINTH OVERALL FOLLOWING DEMANDING DAY AT THE DAKAR

TOP 10 STAGE FINISH FOR QUINTANILLA BUT TEAMMATE LUCIANO BENAVIDES IS FORCED TO WITHDRAW FROM 2021 EVENT DUE TO A CRASH ON STAGE NINE

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla has successfully completed stage nine of the 2021 Dakar Rally as the 10th quickest rider. On a day that many have commented was the toughest of this year’s event so far, Luciano Benavides crashed after kilometre 242 and was unfortunately unable to continue the race.

Starting on the shore close to the bivouac city of Neom, the 579km stage nine first led riders north, along the beach before heading inland to the sandy valleys in the north of the country. As well as the complicated navigation seen on most days this year, the long 465km timed special also tested riders with fast, rocky pistes and riverbeds, later on in the stage.

Pablo Quintanilla enjoyed a strong start to today’s stage, making light work of the navigation through the earlier parts of the special. The FR 450 Rally rider had moved up to sixth place by the sixth checkpoint and was making up good ground on his rivals ahead. A few kilometres after checkpoint seven, Quintanilla came across teammate Benavides who had crashed in an especially rocky section. Finding it hard to maintain a decent rhythm after that, the Chilean settled for a safe ride to the finish and now looks forward to Wednesday’s stage 10.

Putting in a superb performance through the first half of the day, Luciano Benavides had climbed to third place on stage nine and was looking set to deliver his best result of the rally so far. Caught out by one of the many rocks that littered today’s special, the young Argentinian fell heavily, dislocating his shoulder. Unable to continue, Luciano was taken to the nearby hospital for further checks and unfortunately will play no further part in this year’s event.

Pablo Quintanilla: “It was definitely the toughest stage of the rally. In the morning, I saw Toby lying on the ground but the helicopter was already with him and so I carried on, even though it was difficult to focus after seeing something like that. After the refuelling, I started to feel better and was able to increase my pace a little bit, but then I found Luciano on the ground and I stopped for him. It was difficult to see because he was in a lot of pain, but thankfully not too badly injured. I stayed with him until the helicopter arrived. From there to the end, I just wanted to get back safely and finish the day. I’m really sorry for Toby and Luciano and wish them well.”

Day 10 of the rally leaves Neom and initially heads south along the Red Sea coast. Totalling 583km, the stage then heads inland and comprises a mixture of terrain in the deep, rocky valleys. Riders will face a tough 342-kilometre timed special against the clock.


ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING RIDERS SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE DAKAR MARATHON STAGE

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla and Luciano Benavides have safely arrived at the bivouac in Neom where they have re-united with their team following the 2021 Dakar Rally marathon stage. With both riders claiming top-20 stage results, despite the challenging journey through the desert, the two FR 450 Rally mounted stars sit 10th and 11th respectively in the provisional overall standings.

With no outside mechanical assistance allowed overnight at the temporary bivouac, preserving tyres and machine was the priority for both riders. Not feeling as comfortable as he’d like over the harsh terrain on stage eight, Pablo Quintanilla opted to complete the 375km special at a solid but steady pace and ensure a safe finish. Finishing the day as 18th fastest, 18 minutes down on the eventual stage winner, Pablo now provisionally sits 10th overall, just ahead of his teammate.

Stage eight turned out to be one to forget for Luciano Benavides. Struggling to find his rhythm early on, the Argentinian then came across a fallen rider who required medical attention. Staying with him until help arrived, Luciano then carried on to the end of the stage, posting the 20th quickest time. Despite the disappointing result, Benavides lies 11th in the provisional standings, one place behind his teammate, and may see his result improve if he is awarded time back for the period spent helping his fellow competitor.

Pablo Quintanilla: “It’s been a tough marathon stage, both days have been challenging with some very tricky technical sections and for the body it has been very tiring. I didn’t really feel comfortable enough to push today and with four more long days to go, I didn’t want to make any serious mistakes on the rocky tracks. Luckily, we didn’t have any issues during the marathon stage, and I was able to look after the bike really well. I’ll talk to the team now and we’ll come up with a plan for the rest of the race and hopefully we can make up a few more places.”

Luciano Benavides: “That has certainly been the worst day of my rally so far. For me, I didn’t feel so good at the start of the stage, so it was difficult to focus properly through the stage. I struggled a little with my rhythm at first and then after the refuelling I found another rider who had crashed. I stayed with him until the medical helicopter arrived but after that it was hard to get into the right frame of mind again, so I just tried to get myself safely to the finish and not push too hard. The stage was amazing with some really beautiful scenery, it’s just a shame I wasn’t able to enjoy it.”

Stage nine of the rally forms a loop north of the bivouac at Neom and covers a total of 579km. The timed special at 465km long is the second longest of the race and will require accurate navigation


LUCIANO BENAVIDES EIGHTH FASTEST ON DAKAR STAGE SEVEN

ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING RIDERS SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE FIRST HALF OF EVENT’S MARATHON STAGE

Battling his way through a tough stage seven of the 2021 Dakar Rally to finish eighth fastest, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Luciano Benavides now holds 10th in the provisional overall standings. Joining his teammate at this evening’s marathon stage bivouac, Pablo Quintanilla claimed 15th on the stage and lies 12th overall.

Marking the first half of the event’s marathon stage, and including a 453km timed special, day seven at the Dakar proved a tough one for all competitors. While focusing on their navigation, riders also had to preserve their machines as no outside mechanical assistance was allowed at the bivouac overnight.

Setting off as the 14th rider to enter the stage, Luciano Benavides found himself having to pass a number of riders to make up time on his rivals. Putting in a strong ride, the Argentinian increased his position to sixth by kilometre 398. A small error after the final checkpoint resulted in him losing a couple of minutes, but Benavides was able to defend his top-10 position to the line, finally finishing the day in eighth and moving up to 10th in the provisional overall standings.

Highly experienced rally racer Pablo Quintanilla took a steady approach to the day’s special, minimising any possible mistakes and conserving his FR 450 Rally machine. In finishing the stage in 15th, the Chilean rider now sits 12th in the general rankings.

Luciano Benavides: “Everything went well today – I feel good, the bike is good – I did get lost a bit at the end but thankfully didn’t lose too much time. I had a much better feeling on the bike, so enjoyed the stage a lot more. I was caught by my brother so was able to ride with him for a little bit, which was nice. Overall, it was a solid day for me, the terrain was mostly sandy and fast but there were some rocks hidden in places. My tyres look good, but tomorrow will be another long day, we’re still in the fight so I will try my best again.”

Pablo Quintanilla: “Today was the first half of the marathon stage and it was quite a tough special. With the early part being wet, sandy tracks it was difficult to keep the bike straight in some places. Because of that it was hard to get into a fast rhythm and so bearing in mind we have no assistance today, I decided to just get to the finish safely and save the bike. I focused on my navigation and in the end, finished without problems.”

Stage eight of the rally – the second half of the marathon stage – will see riders cover a total of 709km, of which, 375km will be timed special, ridden against the clock. The route to Neom will consist of a mixture of sandy tracks and rocky pistes, with tricky navigation testing riders’ road book skills.


TOP-10 FINISH FOR PABLO QUINTANILLA ON DAKAR STAGE SIX

ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING STAR COMPLETES TOUGH OPENING WEEK IN 10TH OVERALL

Pablo Quintanilla has ridden to another strong result at the 2021 Dakar Rally, placing 10th on the event’s high-speed stage six. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider completed the timed special without incident just six and a half minutes down on the stage winner. Teammate Luciano Benavides also enjoyed a solid day in the desert, finishing three minutes down on Quintanilla in 16th.

With riders making a final push before Saturday’s rest day, the shortened 688km stage six included a fast timed special of 347km, made up almost entirely of sandy tracks and dunes. Aiming to make up time on his rivals with a 10th place start position, Quintanilla planned on pushing hard right from the start of the special to hunt down the riders ahead. Despite not making any mistakes through the course of the stage, the high average speeds of the route, added to the consistency of the top contenders, made it difficult for the FR 450 Rally mounted star to gain any advantage. With the top-17 split by less than 10 minutes, a safe finish without mishap soon became his priority. In finishing 10th, Pablo also moves up to 10th in the provisional standings and will now enjoy a hard-earned rest day before resuming his Dakar campaign on Sunday.

Also delivering a mistake-free performance, Benavides rode much of the stage as part of a group and as such, found it tricky to make any meaningful headway on the other riders. Also settling for a safe finish to his first week of racing at the 2021 event, Luciano was happy with his performance, despite the position not being quite what he had aimed for. Trailing teammate Quintanilla by just under two minutes in the overall standings, the young Argentinian is confident of climbing the leaderboard during the second half of the race.

Pablo Quintanilla: “Today was the last day before the rest day. It was quite a tough one, mostly ridden in between the dunes and valleys. As the whole day was really fast it was difficult to make up a lot of time on the leaders. I’m pleased with how I rode and happy that we have the rest day now. The first week has been good, thankfully it has gone without any problems – I feel good and have not had any big crashes. We still have six days to go, so there is a lot of riding left to do.”

Luciano Benavides: “That’s the first week done and another tough day. The whole stage was made up of sand, with some dunes and some broken pistes. I struggled a little bit to find a good rhythm today, but at the end it was not so bad because we’re still in the fight, and not too far behind the top guys. I’ve got a good start position for the marathon stage, so after the rest day I’ll try my best again and hopefully make up a few more positions.”

All competitors will now enjoy a rest day at the Ha’il bivouac before returning to action on stage seven – the 737km first half of the event’s marathon stage.


PABLO QUINTANILLA AND LUCIANO BENAVIDES SAFELY COMPLETE EXHAUSTING FIFTH DAY AT 2021 EVENT

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla and Luciano Benavides have successfully reached the finish of stage five of the 2021 Dakar Rally, claiming 10th and 13th place results respectively. On what riders are describing as the toughest day of racing so far this year, the two FR 450 Rally mounted stars made errors early on but were both able to recoup some of their losses by increasing their pace in the latter stages of the 456km special.

With the first section of the timed special, before the checkpoint at kilometre 43, proving to be the most challenging, many competitors fell foul of the tricky-to-navigate terrain. Quintanilla was one of those who found himself going off-track through the area, but using his experience, he was able to get himself back to the official route before pushing onwards. Finding the second half of the stage with its sandy tracks and desert dunes more to his liking, Pablo immediately began catching the stage leaders. Enjoying a mistake-free final 200km the Chilean rider ultimately reached the finish as 10th fastest, to secure 11th in the provisional overall standings.

Following his third-place finish on Wednesday’s stage four, Benavides soon found himself up near the front today, opening the special. Like teammate Quintanilla, Luciano suffered from a couple of mistakes, including a small crash, and was then caught by a number of riders behind. With the group completing the stage together, it was difficult for the young Argentinian to make any of his own progress, and so he settled for a safe finish in 13th.

Pablo Quintanilla: “Well, today turned out to be a really tough stage. At the beginning, on a big plateau, I chose to take one piste about 200 metres earlier than I should have. It meant that I travelled about five kilometres in the wrong direction. When I realised, I tried to cut across to get back to where I should be but it was too stony, so I had to travel all the way back again. Obviously, I lost a lot of time there. I knew I had to push a lot from there to the end of the stage and so I really tried my best and managed to make up some time on the guys in front. In the end, it’s not so bad as we know there is still a long way to go. I’m lying just outside the top 10, but only 15 minutes or so behind the leader and that can change in just one stage.”

Luciano Benavides: “We’ve finished day five, which was easily the toughest day we’ve had all week. It wasn’t the best stage for me, I had a crash quite early on, near kilometre 20, and after that there were a couple of us riding together and we got lost a little bit, which cost even more time. From about halfway through the stage the terrain changed a little as we hit the dunes. By then there was a group of us riding together to the finish, so it was difficult to make up time on any of them. It was a long, tiring day, but at the end my result was not so bad.”

On completing stage six of the 2021 Dakar Rally tomorrow, riders will have reached the halfway point of the event. First however, they must face another tough day in the dunes, with the 618km stage including a long 448km timed special.


LUCIANO BENAVIDES FOURTH FASTEST ON DAKAR STAGE FOUR

ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING RIDERS BENAVIDES AND QUINTANILLA BOTH PLACED INSIDE THE OVERALL TOP 10 AFTER DAY FOUR

On what was another strong day for Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing, Luciano Benavides has put in his best ride of the 2021 Dakar Rally to date, securing fourth place on the ultra-fast stage four from Wadi Ad-Dawasir to Riyadh. Pablo Quintanilla also delivered a solid result on the 337km special, placing eighth, just over one-minute down on his teammate.

Following a long liaison section, Benavides was the 12th rider to enter the day’s timed special. Feeling comfortable onboard his FR 450 Rally, he was able to maintain an extremely fast pace over the stage’s open desert tracks. Enjoying a trouble-free ride, the Argentinian had moved into the top 10 by the halfway point and continued to push. A small mistake in the closing few kilometres of the special cost him a couple of minutes, but Luciano was able to defend his top-five position, ultimately crossing the line as fourth fastest. The result means Benavides will start Thursday’s stage up near the front, requiring both accurate navigation and supreme focus.

Making the most of his cross-country rally experience, Pablo Quintanilla rode maturely on stage four, completing the day in eighth to secure 10th overall in the provisional standings. Riding safely through the stage and focusing on his road book notes, Pablo maintained a top-three position through to kilometre 268. Although they didn’t cost him too much time, a couple of small errors towards the end of the special dropped the former world champion down the order. With an encouraging start position for stage five, Quintanilla will be aiming to push and make up valuable minutes on the event leaders.

Luciano Benavides: “It’s been a very long day today – over 800 kilometres on the bike and a very fast special to race through. Although the speeds were high, like last year’s race, the navigation was a lot more difficult and so you had to stay focused for the whole stage. I’m definitely happy with my pace and how I rode the stage, the bike has been great as well. Tomorrow I start up near the front and we’re being told that stage five is going to be very technical, so it will be a good test of my skills.”

Pablo Quintanilla: “I’m happy with my day today. On a fast stage like this all of the top guys can keep a really similar pace, so it’s important not to push too hard in case you make a mistake that can end up costing you a lot of time. Other than around 10 minutes of dunes, the whole day was almost flat out – there were just some tricky notes towards the end as we raced through some canyons. Finishing the stage in eighth has worked out really well as I didn’t lose too much time on the leaders, but it means I have a good start position for tomorrow, which looks like it will be a lot tougher in terms of navigation. If I can keep up the same pace tomorrow, I’ll be happy.”

Completing stage four in fifth place, experienced rally racer Xavier de Soultrait now leads the provisional overall standings. The HT Rally Raid rider has shown incredible pace on his factory-supported Husqvarna FR 450 Rally.

Thursday’s stage five of the 2021 Rally takes riders from the country’s capital of Riyadh through to Al Qaisumah. Although shorter than today at a total of 662km, the 456km special promises to be extremely technical, with tough navigation once again.


ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE DAKAR STAGE THREE

LUCIANO BENAVIDES AND PABLO QUINTANILLA CLAIM TOP-20 RESULTS ON GRUELING THIRD DAY IN THE DESERT

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Luciano Benavides and Pablo Quintanilla have safely concluded day three of the 2021 Dakar Rally. With the stage featuring a technically demanding mixture of soft sand dunes and faster, rocky tracks, the Husqvarna FR 450 Rally mounted riders finished in 12th and 23rd places respectively.

Benavides delivered another mature ride, completing day three in a solid 12th place. Despite riding much of the stage alone, the young Argentinian was able to accurately navigate through the challenging special, ultimately losing the minimum of time to the chasing riders behind. After his three consistent rides so far, Luciano lies in an excellent seventh in the provisional overall standings, just eight minutes from the lead.

Following on from his third-place finish on Monday’s stage two, Pablo Quintanilla was one of the first riders to enter today’s 403km timed special. Soon catching and passing the two riders ahead of him, the Chilean star found himself with the difficult task of opening the stage through the dunes that featured predominantly in the first half of the special. Taking care to minimise any mistakes, the former FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion initially took a steady approach before increasing his pace during the second half of the day. Reaching the finish as 23rd fastest, Pablo now sits in a strong 12th overall, just over 10 minutes down on the event leader.

Stage four of the 2021 Dakar Rally will challenge riders with a 337km timed special consisting mostly of rough sandy tracks with some added technical sections along the way. Totalling 813km – the longest of the event – the day will lead riders from Wadi Ad-Dawasir to Riyadh.

Luciano Benavides: “I’m happy to finish stage three. It was another long day, and one that for much of the stage I spent alone after passing the guy in front. I rode a good stage, not so fast but I didn’t make too many mistakes and stayed in the middle of the pack, which will give me a good start position for tomorrow. The day had a good mixture of terrain, from sand dunes to fast tracks and even some really rocky sections that were more like trial. My pace so far has been good, and the plan is to stay in touch and then push harder in the second week. Overall, I’m happy with how things are going.”

Pablo Quintanilla: “Today was a long day, just like yesterday. I set off well and by kilometre 40 I had caught the two guys ahead of me. Navigation was quite tough early on through the valleys and canyons and I think we lost some time there. After that I took the lead through the dunes before we rode together as a group in the big plateaus and faster tracks. Overall, I had a good day – we knew this would be one where we’d lose a little time, and we’d have to try and minimise our mistakes. I think I did a good job and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”


QUINTANILLA CLAIMS THIRD ON DAKAR RALLY STAGE TWO

ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING RIDERS COMPLETE CHALLENGING SECOND DAY INSIDE THE TOP 10

Stage two of the 2021 Dakar Rally has proven to be a successful one for Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing with Pablo Quintanilla provisionally finishing third fastest and teammate Luciano Benavides safely inside the top 10, in eighth. In the general standings, Quintanilla and Benavides sit fourth and seventh, respectively.

Making the most of being the 22nd rider to start today’s stage two, Quintanilla immediately settled into a strong pace. The Chilean rider, runner-up at the 2020 Dakar, moved up into the top five by the first checkpoint and didn’t look back, maintaining a great rhythm over the various changes in terrain to ultimately complete the 457km timed special as third fastest. Currently lying fourth in the provisional overall standings, Pablo will be looking to chase down the two riders ahead of him on tomorrow’s stage three.

Putting in another solid performance on the demanding desert terrain, Luciano Benavides went one better than on Sunday to complete stage two in eighth place. His consistency moves him up to seventh in the provisional standings – less than 10 minutes down on the current leader. With Tuesday’s stage three promising more of the soft, deep sand dunes seen at the start of today’s route, Luciano hopes the conditions will once again favour his skill set.

Stage three of the 2021 Dakar Rally, totalling 629km, both starts and finishes in Wadi Ad-Dawasir. Riders will face a tough 403km timed special as part of a looped course consisting of wide-open desert interspersed with slower technical sections.

Pablo Quintanilla: “It was a really good day for me today – it was a long stage, really fast with some tricky navigation in places. Things started off tough right from the beginning with some very soft dunes, some of them were difficult to cross. Then some faster valleys between dunes, which I really liked – it suits my riding style and I much prefer it to the slower technical sections. It looks like there will be more dunes tomorrow, so we’ll see how things go.”

Luciano Benavides: “It’s been another solid day for me today, and I’m happy for my result. I did a good job through the dunes at the beginning of the stage, it was more like the sort of terrain I’m used to from back home and I really enjoyed that section. After that, I was able to find a good rhythm as things got faster later on and I didn’t make too many mistakes with my navigation. I’m really pleased with how things are going, and the bike has been perfect so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”


TOP 10 RESULT FOR LUCIANO BENAVIDES ON DAKAR RALLY STAGE ONE

ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING RIDER MAKES STRONG START TO 2021 EVENT

Making a solid start to the 2021 Dakar Rally, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Luciano Benavides and Pablo Quintanilla have both successfully completed the technically demanding opening stage, finishing in ninth and 21st respectively.

Following over three hours of racing across the rock-strewn tracks between Jeddah to Bisha in the west of the country, Benavides marked his debut Dakar stage for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team by finishing inside the top 10. Feeling comfortable on his FR 450 Rally right from the off, the young Argentinian was able to stick to a fast, consistent pace, despite the technical terrain and tricky navigation causing issues for many riders. In finishing ninth on the stage, Luciano sits ninth in the provisional overall standings and will enjoy an advantageous start position for Monday’s stage two.

Posting the eighth fastest time on Saturday’s short 11km Prologue, Pablo Quintanilla was awarded a strong start position going into the 277km timed special on day one. The Chilean was immediately able to chase down his rivals ahead and by kilometre 71 had moved up to sixth. A couple of small mistakes in the challenging rocky pistes cost Pablo some minutes, but the experienced racer was able to regroup and hold a solid pace to the finish. Ultimately completing the stage in a provisional 20th position to hold 21st overall, Quintanilla is well placed to make up lost time during the long 457km special of stage two.

Monday’s stage two of the 2021 Dakar Rally totals 685km and includes a timed special of 457km. The route will take riders from Bisha to Wadi Ad-Dawasir and deliver a mixture of conditions, including sand dunes for the first time this year.

Luciano Benavides: “It’s been a good day for me today, my plan was to start quite steady and build my confidence on the bike, but as the stage went on, I was feeling good and able to push a little more. I really focused on my navigation and at the refuelling I found out my times were good and that was really encouraging. On the second half of the special I made a little mistake and a group of riders I had passed earlier got past me again, so I had to ride through there dust for a while. Other than a very small, low-speed crash later on, the rest of the stage went well. The bike feels great in these conditions and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Pablo Quintanilla: “Well the first stage of the rally has not been the best for me. I struggled to find a good rhythm early on and with the special being made up of some very technical, rocky terrain, I wasn’t able to find the pace that I wanted. It’s only day one though and there is a long way to go, I plan on making the most of my start position tomorrow and hopefully make up some time on the leaders.”