Husky Win Stage - Dakar

Posted on January 14, 2020

Pablo Quintanilla has ridden to victory on stage nine of the 2020 Dakar Rally. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider put in an excellent performance on the 410-kilometre stage to slowly build his pace from the start, going on to claim the win by close to two minutes at the finish. Teammate Andrew Short also rode solidly on the predominantly rocky special to finish ninth.

Stage eight of the Dakar Rally was cancelled for all riders in the motorcycle class out of respect for Paulo Goncalves who lost his life on Sunday. Competitors returned to racing today with the long, 886-kilometre stage nine that led the field from Wadi Al Dawasir to Haradh. Initially faced with an arduous liaison, riders then entered the timed special that presented all with a challenging route made up of rocky tracks and stony riverbeds.

Following his eighth-place finish on Sunday, Pablo Quintanilla felt comfortable from the off this morning and was immediately able to push on the hard-packed surface. Third quickest to the first checkpoint, Pablo made his way past several riders in front to take the provisional lead by kilometre 244. Maintaining that position to the finish, despite pressure from riders behind, the two-time world champion claimed the win by almost two minutes from Toby Price. With three stages left to race, Pablo sits second overall in the provisional standings.

Taking time to feel comfortable on his Husqvarna FR 450 Rally, Andrew Short chose to initially ease his pace a little in order to minimise the risk of mistakes early on today’s stage. Finding confidence as the day progressed, the American was able to increase his speed to ultimately finish inside the top 10 as ninth fastest. Currently placed 11th overall, due in part to the 30-minute penalty he received earlier in the event, Andrew hopes to improve on his position over the course of the final three stages.

Wednesday’s stage 10 of the rally – the first half of the event’s marathon stage – will see riders head east from Haradh to the temporary bivouac at Shubaytah. A long 534-kilometre timed special will challenge all competitors’ skill and endurance as they head through the dunes of the Empty Quarter. No outside assistance or tyre changing is permitted overnight, with riders having to work on their own machines before heading back to Haradh on Thursday.

Pablo Quintanilla: “It was a strange feeling this morning after what happened to Paulo, but I think it was good to get riding again. There was a long liaison this morning and it was very cold, but I felt better when we hit the special and I was able to push right away. In the end, I won the stage, which was a fitting way to honour Paulo. But now, with stage eight cancelled, my strategy is more complicated. My goal from here is to push and try to make up as much time over the final three days as possible.”

Andrew Short: “Today’s stage felt different for obvious reasons – I just set off with the goal of completing the day safely. The first part of the special was really beautiful with some technical navigation through the canyons. The second half was more open with some really fast tracks where you could maintain a lot of speed. The best thing was I started to feel more comfortable as the day went on and was able to focus more, which is good. We’ve got the two halves of the marathon stage coming up now, which I normally really enjoy. It looks like the terrain over the next few days is going to be interesting and I always enjoy the novelty of the marathon stage – camping out with the other riders at the bivouac and facing some unique challenges to complete the stage.”

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price has completed stage nine of the 2020 Dakar Rally in second place. Teammates Luciano Benavides and Matthias Walkner placed seventh and 10th respectively on the 886-kilometre stage. KTM Factory Racing’s Mario Patrao enjoyed a strong stage finishing 25th.

With stage eight of the rally cancelled in memory of Paulo Goncalves, the motorcycle class returned to action early this morning with the 886-kilometre stage nine from Wadi Al Dawasir to Haradh. Crossing the Saudi Arabian ‘Empty Quarter’ riders were faced with a wide variety of terrain including dirt, sand and stony tracks as they navigated around canyons and riverbeds.

Following an extremely tough stage seven on Sunday, Toby Price did his best to regroup and focus for today’s stage nine. Seventh into the 410-kilometre special, Price was immediately on the pace – posting the quickest time to the first checkpoint. With the stage proving to be relatively straightforward, times at the top between the front runners were very tight. Ultimately placing second at the finish, Toby was just under two minutes behind stage winner Pablo Quintanilla.

Toby Price: “It’s been a long day today and with it being so fast, it’s was really difficult to make up any time on the others as we’re all so close on these full-gas stages. Obviously, it’s been a really tough day mentally but we’re still cruising along in the race and the main goal as always is to make it safely to the finish line. We entered the Empty Quarter a little today but to be honest we only had 30 kilometres or so of dunes. I’m hoping these next few days will feature more. There’s definitely a lot of kilometres left to go so we’ll just try and keep it on two wheels.”

Once again showing great consistency, Luciano Benavides carefully navigated through the hard-packed stage of day nine to finish seventh, just over six minutes down on the leader. As a testament to his speed, the young Argentinian lies seventh overall in the provisional rally standings. With three days left to race, Luciano is looking forward to tomorrow’s opening half of the marathon stage.

Luciano Benavides: “We started really early this morning, so it’s been a long day on the bike. It’s definitely been tougher mentally today, the stage itself was not too hard. I tried to clear my mind this morning and focus just on the racing. I enjoyed the stage, it started off really technical and reminded me a lot of Morocco, where I have done well. Later on, we had some fast river sections and I took it a little easier through there. Ricky Brabec passed me and from then on we rode together to the finish, with me just ahead on the last few kilometres. All-in-all I’m happy with my day today and looking forward to the marathon stage tomorrow.”

Matthias Walkner had a tougher time on the day’s special – eventually bringing his KTM 450 RALLY home in 10th place. Taking time to feel comfortable, the Austrian initially chose to concentrate on his navigation to avoid any mistakes on the challenging terrain. With a change of surface also bringing renewed confidence, Matthias was able to push on. Despite a small navigational error costing him some time in the latter part of the stage, the 2018 Dakar Champion was able to safely complete the day in 10th.

Matthias Walkner: “I think the toughest part of today was the 318 kilometres of liaison this morning – it felt really long and very cold. Over the first 60 kilometres of the special I didn’t feel too good – I struggled to find a good rhythm on the broken, stony pistes. Afterwards the terrain changed a little with small round rocks through riverbeds and I felt a lot more comfortable there. I rode most of the second half of the special on my own and only made one small mistake that cost me a couple of minutes. It wasn’t the best day for me but I’m happy to get to the finish. We’ve got three long days to go, so I’ll continue to do my best.”

Continuing to put in solid rides each day of the rally, KTM Factory Racing’s Mario Patrao completed stage nine as 25th fastest. The experienced Portuguese rider was happy with his performance and now looks ahead to the gruelling marathon stage of days 10 and 11 where he will be present to assist his team to the best of his abilities.

Mario Patrao: “It was a good stage today despite it being very cold from the start. I found it hard to concentrate at the beginning but was able to eventually feel a little more comfortable again. The bike has been great and is perfect for tomorrow’s marathon stage.”

Stage 10 of the 2020 Dakar Rally marks the first half of the second week’s marathon stage. Riders will first complete a 534-kilometre timed special on Wednesday before staying overnight in the marathon bivouac at Shubaytah and returning on Thursday to Haradh. No outside assistance is allowed on the marathon stage so competitors must conserve their tyres and machines in order to complete the challenging two days without incurring a penalty.

2020 Dakar Rally – Stage 9 Provisional Classification

1. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 4:45:06

2. Toby Price (KTM) 3:32:27 +1:54

3. Joan Barreda (Honda) 3:33:15 +2:42

4. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 3:34:28 +3:55

5. Ross Branch (KTM) 3:36:03 +5:30

6. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 3:36:23 +5:50

9. Andrew Short (Husqvarna) 3:37:30 +6:57

2020 Dakar Rally – Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 9)

1. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 31:59:29

2. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 32:20:22 +20:53

3. Toby Price (KTM) 32:26:12 +26:43

4. Joan Barreda (Honda) 32:27:45 +28:16

5. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 32:28:58 +29:29

6. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 32:36:45 +37:16

11. Andrew Short (Husqvarna) 33:43:20 +1:43:51