While resting today in the capital of Bolivia following Stage 6 of the 2018 Dakar Rally, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna riders Pablo Quintanilla, Andres Short and the rest of their team are looking ahead to the second week of the rally, which begins tomorrow with Stage 7, the first half of the marathon stage in which only the riders will be allowed to make repairs on their equipment. The following is from Rockstar Energy Husqvarna:
Making the best of their day off in the capital of Bolivia, the duo of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla and Andrew Short are now focused on continuing their solid performances in this coming second week of competition at the 2018 Dakar Rally. With Pablo currently 16 minutes behind the provisional overall leader and eight more long stages yet to be contested, the reigning Rally World Champion will make use of his experience to gradually climb higher up the leader board.
Featuring five long and demanding stages in the sandy dunes of Peru, this first week of racing proved to be demanding for all competitors. Kicking off the event with a strong third place result in the opening stage, Quintanilla went on to secure four more top six stage results as the race moved over to Bolivia yesterday. Reaching as high as second overall after the end of stage four, the Chilean-born, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rally star is currently placed eighth in the provisional overall standings.
“It’s been really nice to get some rest,” Quintanilla said. “I had a good sleep, enjoyed some lovely food in the hotel and was able to work a little with my physio to refresh my body. I’m feeling really good now, we’re nearly at the halfway point of the race, and I still feel very strong. We have the marathon stage next and, as always, it’s very important to be careful and look after your bike. It’s not worth taking any risks because even the smallest mistake could mean the end of your rally. I’m happy with my position at the moment, but it would be nice to be a little further up the order. Unfortunately, the issue I had on stage five cost me a few important minutes. My plan now is to keep focused on my road book and navigation to try and keep to a good rhythm, rather than just try and push. There is still a long way to go, and I’m going to do my best to stay consistent, and hopefully it will pay off.”
Learning more as the race goes on, Dakar Rally and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rookie Andrew Short has been making some steady progress so far in the race. Consistently finishing inside the top 30 in all the stages contested so far, the acclaimed US racer is now placed 22nd in the provisional overall standings. For this coming second week of racing, Andrew will look to earn a spot inside the top 20 in the overall.
“I’m really happy to have made it here. I have been a little frustrated with my speed–sometimes I catch and pass other riders, then I get lost and lose all the time again,” Short said. “Yesterday (Thursday) was the toughest day for me, the stage didn’t suite me so well, it was really fast and difficult. Overall, I have to say I’m learning a lot and in the future, I am sure it will pay off. The event is amazing, to be here and experience it first-hand is something very special. I really enjoyed the dunes in Peru, especially the last day, it was really fun riding. We have the first of the marathon stages tomorrow, and I’m not really sure what to expect. I did experience one in the Moroccan rally, but I think the Dakar marathon stages are going to be a little more serious. The team have advised what I need to pack, and hopefully I won’t have any troubles on the route. I’m really enjoying the whole rally, even the long liaison sections that might be a little tiresome for the regular riders, are eye-opening for me. I love riding through all the new scenery, and the welcome we got when riding into La Paz was incredible.”
With eight more stages still to be contested, the second week of racing at this year’s Dakar Rally is expected to be yet more demanding. Featuring two marathons stages in a total of 5,200km to be run until the finish in Córdoba, the race still has a long way to go.
2018 Dakar Rally – Provisional Overall Standings [Rest Day]
1. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 16:33:20
2. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 16:35:17
3. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 16:37:10
4. Joan Barreda (Honda) 16:42:53
5. Toby Price (KTM) 16:42:59
8. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 16:50:02
22. Andrew Short (Husqvarna) 17:53:30