Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Andrew Short and Pablo Quintanilla have safely concluded stage four of the 2020 Dakar Rally. With many riders deeming the stage to be the toughest of the event so far, the Husqvarna FR 450 Rally mounted duo finished in 13th and 14th places respectively. Quintanilla now sits in an excellent fifth place in the provisional overall standings.
Now competing in his third Dakar Rally, Andrew Short made the best use of his knowledge and experience to tackle the technically demanding stage four from Neom to Al-‘Ula. At 453 kilometres the timed special was the longest ridden by competitors in the rally so far. Making good time covering the mixed rocky tracks and open pistes, Andrew was able to challenge the riders ahead and make up places despite the dust raised by the bikes in front. A couple of mistakes later in the stage ended up costing the American some time, but he was able to bring his Husqvarna home safely in 13th place, less than 10 minutes down on the eventual stage winner.
Pablo Quintanilla endured a similar day to his teammate – struggling to find a good rhythm on the constantly changing surface, the two-time world champion decided to ease off his pace and ensure he got to the finish of the long stage without issue. His consistency and maturity paid off as Pablo still lies in an extremely strong fifth overall with the event now reaching one third overall race distance. With an advantageous start position for Thursday’s stage, the Chilean is confident of improving on his day four result.
Thursday’s stage five of the Dakar will total 564 kilometres, including a timed special of 353 kilometres. On leaving Al-‘Ula, the stage will begin with the same mixed terrain seen in recent days before introducing riders to sand dunes and camel grass on the way to Ha’il.
Andrew Short: “I think that has been one of the most difficult stages to navigate in my career. The terrain made it so that every time I tried to go fast I either got lost or had a crash. Thankfully, I only had one big crash during the day but there were a few times when I just slid out on the turns because of the stones. About halfway through the day I broke the switch that controls the fuel tanks, so that made things even more difficult. It’s frustrating and really tricky to find the right speed – if you ease off you can see the dust ahead of you disappearing, if you push too hard you get excited and make a mistake. Overall, I know I have the pace, I’m just finding it hard to get the right rhythm. It’s another day tomorrow and my body is feeling better than it was so I’ll try to do my best as always.”
Pablo Quintanilla: “Honestly, today was not the best for me. Sometimes it’s like this – you can feel really good or sometimes you struggle a little bit. The stage was really tricky with high speeds and a lot of navigation. We still have many days in front of us and the good thing is I am ok and we have no problems with the bike. I lost some time today but we’re still in the fight and there’s definitely a long way to go and anything can happen.”
2020 Dakar Rally – Stage 4 Provisional Classification
1. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 4:24:51
2. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 4:25:26
3. Ross Branch (KTM) 4:25:46
4. Pablo Goncalves (Hero) 4:27:02
5. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 4:27:43
6. Toby Price (KTM) 4:27:50
13. Andrew Short (Husqvarna) 4:32:54
14. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 3:48:04
2020 Dakar Rally – Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 4)
1. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 15:06:43
2. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 15:09:13
3. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 15:15:14
4. Toby Price (KTM) 15:18:52
5. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 15:24:35
6. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 15:25:54
15. Andrew Short (Husqvarna) 16:08:48
Source: Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing press release