Pablo Quintanilla has ridden to another strong result at the 2021 Dakar Rally, placing 10th on the event’s high-speed stage six. The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider completed the timed special without incident just six and a half minutes down on the stage winner. Teammate Luciano Benavides also enjoyed a solid day in the desert, finishing three minutes down on Quintanilla in 16th.
With riders making a final push before Saturday’s rest day, the shortened 688km stage six included a fast timed special of 347km, made up almost entirely of sandy tracks and dunes. Aiming to make up time on his rivals with a 10th place start position, Quintanilla planned on pushing hard right from the start of the special to hunt down the riders ahead. Despite not making any mistakes through the course of the stage, the high average speeds of the route, added to the consistency of the top contenders, made it difficult for the FR 450 Rally mounted star to gain any advantage. With the top-17 split by less than 10 minutes, a safe finish without mishap soon became his priority. In finishing 10th, Pablo also moves up to 10th in the provisional standings and will now enjoy a hard-earned rest day before resuming his Dakar campaign on Sunday.
Also delivering a mistake-free performance, Benavides rode much of the stage as part of a group and as such, found it tricky to make any meaningful headway on the other riders. Also settling for a safe finish to his first week of racing at the 2021 event, Luciano was happy with his performance, despite the position not being quite what he had aimed for. Trailing teammate Quintanilla by just under two minutes in the overall standings, the young Argentinian is confident of climbing the leaderboard during the second half of the race.
Pablo Quintanilla: “Today was the last day before the rest day. It was quite a tough one, mostly ridden in between the dunes and valleys. As the whole day was really fast it was difficult to make up a lot of time on the leaders. I’m pleased with how I rode and happy that we have the rest day now. The first week has been good, thankfully it has gone without any problems – I feel good and have not had any big crashes. We still have six days to go, so there is a lot of riding left to do.”
Luciano Benavides: “That’s the first week done and another tough day. The whole stage was made up of sand, with some dunes and some broken pistes. I struggled a little bit to find a good rhythm today, but at the end it was not so bad because we’re still in the fight, and not too far behind the top guys. I’ve got a good start position for the marathon stage, so after the rest day I’ll try my best again and hopefully make up a few more positions.”
All competitors will now enjoy a rest day at the Ha’il bivouac before returning to action on stage seven – the 737km first half of the event’s marathon stage.
2021 Dakar Rally – Stage 6 Provisional Classification
1. Joan Barreda (Honda) 3:45:27
2. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 3:45:40 + 0:00:13
3. Daniel Sanders (KTM) 3:46:20 + 0:00:53
4. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 3:47:51 + 0:02:24
5. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 3:48:41 + 0:03:14
6. Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) 3:49:00 + 0:03:33
10. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 3:51:55
16. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 3:54:56
2021 Dakar Rally – Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 6)
1. Toby Price (KTM) 24:08:43
2. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 24:10:59 + 0:02:16
3. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 24:11:40 + 0:02:57
4. Ross Branch (Yamaha) 24:12:24 + 0:03:41
5. Xavier de Soultrait (Husqvarna) 24:12:24 + 0:03:41
6. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 24:13:06 + 0:04:23
10. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 24:23:56
11. Luciano Benavides (Husqvarna) 24:25:44