Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Quintanilla Takes Third Overall at Desert Challenge

Husqvarna factory teammate Pela Renet finishes overall fifth

April 7, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) –  Rockstar Energy Husqvarna factory riders Pablo Quintanilla and Pela Renet wrapped up an excellent week of desert racing at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge to finish third and fifth overall after five days in the deep sand dunes of the Liwa Desert. The event was the opening round of the 2016 FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship.

Quintanilla, a seasoned desert rider from Chile took the second stage win and was never out of the top three both in the individual results of prologue-plus-five stages, and in each day’s overall standings. At the finish he was just three minutes 23 off the pace of eventual winner Toby Price in an event that had quickly developed into a contest between three main protagonists – Price, Quintanilla and British rider Sam Sunderland, who took second place.


Pablo Quintanilla fights his way to third in the final stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

In fact, Quintanilla held the lead in the overall standings going into the final stage, but his two rivals were behind him and they could follow the deep tyre marks in the soft sand and exert pressure and speed from behind. But the final stage was fast and furious with all of three leaders chasing the win. Quintanilla pushed particularly hard over the first 100km and it was only after the refuelling stop that his two rivals were able to take the fight to the end.

Quintanilla said while he was happy with his podium he was at the same time a little disappointed not to have taken the win. “Last year I made my debut in the World Championship in Abu Dhabi and I got my first podium. I was aiming to repeat it and I did, but I am not entirely happy because obviously I had the chance to win.” Quintanilla, who finished third in the Dakar Rally in January, has his next chance in two week’s time in round two of the championship.

Renet, who was fourth across the line in the final stage comes to rally sport as an enduro world champion. He can be well satisfied to have wrapped up the first round of the season as a stage winner and a top five finisher. He made some small navigation errors in the first stage, but from then on recovered to improve every day and to underline that he plans to be a force to reckoned with in future rallies. Renet raced with the factory team in the 2016 Dakar Rally in January but had to withdraw some days into the competition because of injury.


Renet opens the track on the final round and finishes overall fifth

As the fourth stage winner it was Renet’s job to open the track on the final day, a first for the French rider. “I opened a rally stage for the first time today and I’m happy that I finished the final stage in fourth place,” he commented. “With the fifth place in the overall classification of the Desert Challenge I leave the opening round of the world championship with a very good feeling!”

Team Coordinator Daniel Trauner: “We can be happy with both of our riders. Today Pablo really went for the win. He stayed out in front and on his own right up to the refuelling stop. He kept up a very fast pace and tried hard to stay in front of the other two. It was a real all-out race right to the end. We are also very pleased for Pela and this result gives him a lot of confidence for the next round in two week’s time.”

The two factory riders, who compete on the Husqvarna FR 450 Rally bike, will now have a one week’s break before heading for the next round, the Sealine Rally in Qatar, where the task will be very different from this week’s competition. There they face five tough days of riding on hard and stony off piste track where navigation skills will play a much bigger role than they did in the soft sand dunes of this week. Quintanilla in particular will be out to hunt down his rivals and even up the score.

Results Stage Five Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2016

1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 2 hours 48.17
2. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, +2.09 minutes
3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, +6.08
4. Pela Renet (FRA), Husqvarna, +11.53
5. Helder Rodrigues (POR), Yamaha, +12.49

Standings after Final Stage Five

1. Price, 18 hours 18.24
2. Sunderland, +2 min 11 seconds
3. Quintanilla, +3.23
4. Mo. Al Balooshi (UAE), KTM +38.38
5. Renet, +29.30