Pablo Quintanilla ninth overall following demanding day at the Dakar

Pablo Quintanilla - Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing8

Pablo Quintanilla - Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing-15

Luciano Benavides - Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing9

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla has successfully completed stage nine of the 2021 Dakar Rally as the 10th quickest rider. On a day that many have commented was the toughest of this year’s event so far, Luciano Benavides crashed after kilometre 242 and was unfortunately unable to continue the race.

Starting on the shore close to the bivouac city of Neom, the 579km stage nine first led riders north, along the beach before heading inland to the sandy valleys in the north of the country. As well as the complicated navigation seen on most days this year, the long 465km timed special also tested riders with fast, rocky pistes and riverbeds, later on in the stage.

Pablo Quintanilla enjoyed a strong start to today’s stage, making light work of the navigation through the earlier parts of the special. The FR 450 Rally rider had moved up to sixth place by the sixth checkpoint and was making up good ground on his rivals ahead. A few kilometres after checkpoint seven, Quintanilla came across teammate Benavides who had crashed in an especially rocky section. Finding it hard to maintain a decent rhythm after that, the Chilean settled for a safe ride to the finish and now looks forward to Wednesday’s stage 10.

Putting in a superb performance through the first half of the day, Luciano Benavides had climbed to third place on stage nine and was looking set to deliver his best result of the rally so far. Caught out by one of the many rocks that littered today’s special, the young Argentinian fell heavily, dislocating his shoulder. Unable to continue, Luciano was taken to the nearby hospital for further checks and unfortunately will play no further part in this year’s event.

Pablo Quintanilla: “It was definitely the toughest stage of the rally. In the morning, I saw Toby lying on the ground but the helicopter was already with him and so I carried on, even though it was difficult to focus after seeing something like that. After the refuelling, I started to feel better and was able to increase my pace a little bit, but then I found Luciano on the ground and I stopped for him. It was difficult to see because he was in a lot of pain, but thankfully not too badly injured. I stayed with him until the helicopter arrived. From there to the end, I just wanted to get back safely and finish the day. I’m really sorry for Toby and Luciano and wish them well.”

Day 10 of the rally leaves Neom and initially heads south along the Red Sea coast. Totalling 583km, the stage then heads inland and comprises a mixture of terrain in the deep, rocky valleys. Riders will face a tough 342-kilometre timed special against the clock.

2021 Dakar Rally – Stage 9 Provisional Classification

1. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 4:49:15
2. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 4:50:33 
3. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 4:50:49 
4. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 4:59:26 
5. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 5:03:34 
6. Joan Barreda (Honda) 5:03:44

10. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 5:12:45

2021 Dakar Rally – Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 9)

1. Jose Ignacio Cornejo (Honda) 36:51:00
2. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 37:02:24
3. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 37:05:34 
4. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 37:08:26 
5. Joan Barreda (Honda)  37:20:00 
6. Daniel Sanders (KTM) 37:29:23 

9. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 37:51:37