Chilean desert expert rises to the challenge in Abu Dhabi
April 3, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna factory rider Pablo Quintanilla on Sunday made a strong start to the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the opening round of the 2016 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship when he finished a very close third.
The Chilean rider opened his bid in Saturday’s very brief 8 km prologue that set the starting order for the opening stage of this five-stage desert event. He finished third in the prologue a mere three seconds behind the leader. On Sunday, when the rally really got underway with the first foray into the dunes, Quintanilla, a confident and very experienced desert rider was only one minute six seconds off the lead pace after the 278.04 km timed special of a total ride of 420.41 km.
Pablo Quintanilla perfectly positioned with leaders after opening stage
The three front-runners pushed each other hard and exchanged the lead a number of times throughout the stage and at the end of the day had managed to distance themselves from the rest of the field by some 14 minutes.
Quintanilla said his tactics and approach were good for the opening day of real action. “My strategy for the stage paid off. Now we don’t have to open the track tomorrow and I am very close to Toby and Sam. You have to watch your first taste of this sand and these dunes because a single error can leave you lost in the desert or even injured. I feel I have started in a good way.”
Confident return to rally raid for Pela Renet
Meanwhile the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna factory team welcomed back its rally raid rookie, Pela Renet of France who finished tenth in the opening stage. Renet, a multi enduro champion joined the factory rally team in the latter part of 2015 but was injured in the Dakar Rally in January 2016. He exercised his enduro skills to perfection in Saturday’s prologue, finishing fourth and was satisfied with his tenth place finish on Sunday commenting: “I lost some time in the sand dunes due to one or two little mistakes in the navigation, but everything is fine.” Both Quintanilla and Renet are competing on the Husqvarna FR 450 Rally bike.
On Monday riders have their longest day on the bikes, with some 510.69 km to cover, including 278.9 km of timed special.
The rally finishes on Thursday and riders have only one week’s respite before tackling the next round of the championship, the Sealine Cross-Country Rally, Qatar, April 17-22, 2016.
Results Stage One Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2016
1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 3: 37.47 hours
2. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, + 32 sec
3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, +1.06 min
4. Helder Rodrigues (POR), Yamaha, +14.02
5. Jakub Piatek (POL), KTM, +15.05
10. Pela Renet (FRA), Husqvarna, +29.34
Standings after Stage One (of five)
1. Price, 3:39.39 hours
2. Sunderland, +35 sec
3. Quintanilla, +1.09 min
4. Rodrigues, +14.08
5. Piatek, +15.16
10. Renet, +29.37