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Quintanilla leads Morocco

Following an important decision by race organisers to remove the penalty Pablo Quintanilla received at the end of stage two and give him back part of the time lost in the river incident, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider has regained the provisional overall lead with two stages to go at the 2017 OiLibya Morocco Rally.

Determined to gain back the time he lost during a challenging stage two, Pablo Quintanilla put in a strong performance today in Morocco to finish third at the end of the first half of the 2017 OiLibya Rally’s marathon stage. Gaining two spots in the provisional overall standings the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team rider remains well in contention for the 2017 Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.

Everything went according to plan for Pablo during Sunday’s timed special. With the first part of the special cancelled by organisers due to impassable tracks, the Chilean rally star made light work of the remainder of the timed special stage to complete it in a total time of one-hour and 30 minutes. Less than one-minute behind the fastest rider of the day, Pablo secured a strong third place result.

Receiving a 20-minute penalty yesterday due to missing a waypoint, Pablo is currently 11th in the rally’s provisional overall standings. Still in the running for 2017 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider will look to move further up the standings in the remaining two days of the rally.

For Andrew Short it was another good day of racing aboard the FR 450 Rally machine. Completing the shortened special stage in a total time of one-hour and 45 minutes, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rally team rookie claimed an 18th place result for the day. Currently 17th in the rally’s provisional overall standings, the former MX and SX star has his eyes set on Tuesday’s finish of the Morocco Rally.

Spending the evening at the marathon bivouac in Erg Lihoudi, Pablo and Andrew will have to make all the necessary preparations for tomorrow by themselves. Monday’s 455km-long timed special is one of the longest of this year’s rally and will be contested in the dunes of central Morocco.

Daniel Trauner – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Rally team manager: “We are happy that Pablo is still in the race after facing yesterday’s problems in the river. Once again he proved his fighting spirit and now we are confident he will continue giving his all until the finish. Today he had a good stage. He started almost 40 minutes behind the leading pack and managed to make some good passes. The most important thing is that Pablo still has a good chance to win the championship. According to our own calculations, if we were to wrap it up now Pablo would be one-point behind Kevin Benavides in the championship. Pablo would need to move up a few more positions in the overall standings to secure the title. As for Andrew, I personally think he’s doing well. Faced with a tonne of new information he needs to learn how to process, we are all satisfied with the progress he’s made so far. He has a steady pace and he is stepping up his game day-by-day. He learns all the small details of rally racing and he is feeling really confident for the future. Overall, we are in a very good position right now and we are all looking forward to the last two stages of this rally.”

Currently leading the overall standings with a gap of four minutes and 48 seconds over his closest rival Matthias Walkner, Quintanilla remains focused on his major goal of winning the 2017 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.

2017 OiLibya Morocco Rally – Provisional Overall Standings After Stage 3 
1. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 6:07:33
2. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 6:12:21
3. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 6:21:18
4. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 6:22:05
5. Joan Pedrero (Sherco) 6:27:38
6. Antoine Meo (KTM) 6:29:19

17. Andrew Short (Husqvarna) 7:19:54