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Quintanilla leads Morocco

Putting in a solid performance today in Morocco, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla has won the first full stage of the 2017 OiLibya Morocco Rally. Taking the provisional lead in the overall standings with four stages to go, the Chilean star will keep battling to successfully defend his Cross-Country Rallies World Championship title.

Things couldn’t have started any better for Pablo at the final round of the 2017 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship. Kicking off the OiLibya Morocco Rally with third in the short opening SuperTest yesterday, the FR 450 Rally mounted rider showed dominant form throughout today’s 272km-long timed special stage.

Improving his pace as the day went on, Pablo opened up a gap of almost two minutes to his closest rival Matthias Walkner. Continuing his strong run of form in Morocco, Quintanilla is currently one-minute and 34 seconds ahead of Walkner in the rally’s provisional overall standings.

Continuing his rally apprenticeship aboard the FR 450 Rally machine, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Andrew Short reached the finish of the rally’s longest stage in 33rd position. Successfully battling his way through a few small issues, the American has his eyes set on continuing to learn and improve.

Tomorrow’s stage two of the 2017 OiLibya Morocco Rally involves a circular route around the city of Erfoud. Including a total distance of 388km, it features a timed special of 364km.

Pablo Quintanilla: “It was a long day and I’m happy I got the win. We left the bivouac very early in the morning and got to the start of the timed special before 9am. The special stage was quite fast. There were lots of parallel tracks and with low visibility due to the dust it was easy to make a mistake. Navigation was tricky and for some kilometres it was difficult to follow the road book. I felt really good on my bike. I got a good pace right from the start and kept my momentum until the end of the timed special. I didn’t do any big mistake and I’m really satisfied with my performance today.”

Andrew Short: “It was a rough day for me but I felt that I learned a lot. Today I had to adapt pretty quickly to the high demands of a very long and tricky stage. I struggled with the road book in some parts and when I got to the start of the timed special my odometer went to zero. It was something new for me. You don’t really learn unless you are racing and all in all I’m happy I’m doing what I’m doing right now. It was pretty cool to get out there and see the speed of the top guys. I got to see their style and also get a clearer understanding about the way the organisation works with the checkpoints and the refuelling. To get that experience is good for me and I know what to expect in the future.”

Download high-res images from Morocco here.

2017 OiLibya Morocco Rally – Stage 1 Provisional Classification
1. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 3:02:10
2. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 3:04:01
3. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 3:06:41
4. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 3:07:46
5. Paulo Goncalves (Honda) 3:07:56
6. Antoine Meo (KTM) 3:09:48

33. Andrew Short (Husqvarna) 3:49:03

2017 OiLibya Morocco Rally – Provisional Overall Classification After Stage 1
1. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 3:11:20
2. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 3:12:54
3. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 3:15:34
4. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 3:17:13
5. Paulo Goncalves (Honda) 3:17:50
6. Antoine Meo (KTM) 3:24:07

33. Andrew Short (Husqvarna) 3:59:08

Race Schedule – OiLibya Rally of Morocco 2017
Super Stage | Sept 5 | Fes | SS: 12.16km | Total: 54.34km
Stage 1 | Sept 6 | Fes – Erfoud | SS: 272.80km | Total: 859.14km
Stage 2 | Sept 7 | Erfoud – Erfoud | SS: 364.50km | Total: 388.94km
Stage 3 | Sept 8 | Erfoud – Erg Lihoudi | SS: 577.90km | Total: 595.70km
Stage 4 | Sept 9 | Erg Lihoudi – Erfoud | SS: 455.07km | Total: 482.04
Stage 5 | Sept 10 | Erfoud – Erfoud | SS: 188.15km | Total: 232.06km
Total SS: 1,870.58km | Total Rally: 2,612.22km