Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla has stormed to victory on the penultimate stage of the Dakar Rally.
As the ninth rider into the special, Quintanilla was able to gain close to 12 minutes on provisional rally leader – Honda’s Ricky Brabec.
As the second half of the event’s marathon stage, the 11th leg of the Dakar Rally proved to be a challenging one for all competitors.
Made up of long, fast open pistes and tall desert dunes, the stage proved to be not only fast but also extremely demanding on the riders and their machines, with many coming close to running out of fuel midway through the stage.
One rider completing the stage without issue was Pablo Quintanilla. The Chilean star immediately made the most of his later start position to attack right from the flag.
Fastest to the first checkpoint, Pablo continued to push, maximising his opportunity to claw back time on rally leader Brabec.
Despite a challenge by Austrian Matthias Walkner during the closing stages of the special, Quintanilla went on to claim the win by a slender nine seconds. Going into tomorrow’s final day, Pablo lies second overall and just under 14 minutes down on Brabec.
Pablo Quintanilla: “Honestly, the stage was really tough today – all off-piste and very fast. I felt good and was able to push as hard as I could. Overall, I’m really happy with my race and to be in this position going into the final day.
“After difficult months I have had coming back from injury, it feels great to be here and second overall going into tomorrow. As always I will give my all and we’ll see what will happen.”
Monster Energy Honda Team’s Ricky Brabec holds on to the overall leadership of the 2020 Dakar Rally. The American is poised to tackle the final stage which could be a historical one for the Honda squad.
Ricky Brabec: “There’s one stage left. The team is working well. I’m pretty excited. I can’t get my hopes up right now. Stage 11 here in the dunes was pretty tough. Starting up front due to the cancellation of the second part. So it was really hard to judge the time. Tomorrow there is one stage left and I’m in a good starting position. I’m confident to be focused and make it to the finish line.”