Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla and Andrew Short have both successfully made it to the halfway point of the 2020 Dakar Rally and have enjoyed the luxury of a rest day, today, before racing resumes again tomorrow, Sunday, January 12.
The two Rockstar Energy Husqvarna riders have seen different fortunes over the first week of racing in Saudi Arabia, with Quintanilla lying second overall and Short, despite his strong pace, placing just outside of the top 10. Both riders have claimed top-three stage finishes, but a combination of bad luck and unfortunate timing regrettably put Andrew on the back foot after only two stages.
Now with six stages left to race, including the two longest timed specials and an all-important marathon stage, everything is still to play for. Second overall, Quintanilla will be aiming to maximise his pace on the second half of the event and close in on the race leader. Short, although an hour and a half down, will be fighting for stage wins while supporting his teammate as the rally continues south and travels through the Empty Quarter – one of the least-explored areas of the planet.
In only his second year as Rally Team Manager for Rockstar Energy Husqvarna, Pela Renet has been given the task of overseeing the team’s first outing in this new chapter of the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia. With the event longer and already tougher than in recent years, Pela is extremely pleased with his riders and is looking forward to the next six days.
Pela Renet – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Rally Team Manager: “Right from the start this rally has been tough. Last year was my first as team manager but as I had raced in South America, I had a good idea of what to expect. With the move to Saudi Arabia, everyone is experiencing it for the first time and the organisers have really put on a challenging event this year.
“The first week has been quite hard with high average speeds and very tricky navigation. As we have seen, a lot of the top riders have suffered in one way or another with crashes and mistakes. Unfortunately, this has included Andrew who damaged his road book on the Super Marathon stage and was forced to fix it, which gave him a penalty. His pace has been excellent and definitely equal to any of the other riders this year. This new chapter has meant nobody has ridden these stages before and nobody has an advantage in any way. The pre-coloured road books have helped to make the event fair too, between all the riders – pros and amateurs. They have also given all of the riders more time to rest in between stages with no one able to gain an advantage by using maps to work out their route for the next day.
“Pablo is riding really well and you can see his experience is really paying off. Even when he was not feeling 100 percent comfortable, he eased off a little to avoid any mistakes and didn’t lose too much time as a result. Now looking forward, for sure we need to work out a strategy of when to push. I think this second half of the race will be even tougher than the first and with a long marathon stage anything can still happen. David Castera and the organisers always said they wanted this year’s event to be more like the original race and with longer stages and complex navigation I think they have succeeded. We’re definitely up for the challenge and the goal of course remains the same – to take the win.”
2020 Dakar Rally – Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 6)
1. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 23:43:47
2. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 24:04:43 +20:56
3. Toby Price (KTM) 24:09:26 +25:39
4. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 24:09:28 +25:41
5. Joan Barreda (Honda) 24:16:45 +32:58
6. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 24:17:26 +33:39
12. Andrew Short (Husqvarna) 25:20:26 +1:36:39
Source: Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory racing press release