Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider sets the scene for a tight finish in Qatar
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna factory rider Pablo Quintanilla got down to serious business in Wednesday’s stage three of the Sealine to recapture time and set the scene for a big finish over the final two stages. After three of five stages, the Chilean rider is on equal overall time with British rider Sam Sunderland after more than 900 km under the clock and the two have distanced themselves from third overall rider by almost 21 minutes.
While there are still two tough days of desert riding on the program here in Qatar the two riders seem set on making it a final dash to the line on Friday. But despite a nail-biting finish Wednesday, Quintanilla still had to deal with a quick wheel change during the very fast, 355,49km of timed special. The competition has now crystallized down to a two-way duel after the other challenger, Toby Price of Australia, withdrew with a strained back injury.
Quintanilla: “This turned out to be a difficult day but ended very well. I damaged my rear wheel and the start of the timed special and I lost some time because I had to ride calmly to the refuelling where I could change it. Then I pushed hard to win the stage. We have two more race days, probably with very difficult navigation and very physical and its going to be a fight with Sunderland right to the finish.”
Team Coordinator Daniel Trauner: “Pablo (Quintanilla) was pushing very hard today and he damaged the spokes of the rear wheel while jumping off one of the dunes. About 80km of the special was very fast off-piste riding today and he was pushing for every second.”
Pela Renet, the second rider in the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory team finished a solid seventh overall and is fifth in the overall standings after stage three. Renet is riding for the first time in this event and as the team rookie, is using it as a learning exercise as he continues to make a good transition from world championship enduro to rally raid.
Renet: “It was a seventh place in today’s stage three. I got lost a few times. I didn’t have a good feeling so I was disappointed today. But I’ll stay concentrated and motivated for the next 2 days. There are ups and downs in learning,” he said.
Results Stage Three Sealine Rally Qatar 2016
1. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, 4:03.10 hours
2. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, +1:58 min
3. Helder Rodrigues (POR), Yamaha, 11:05
4. Adrien Van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, +12:13
5. Jose Ignacio Cornejo Florimo (CHI), KTM, 14:54
7. Pela Renet (FRA), Husqvarna, +33.42
Standings after 3 of 5 stages
1, Sunderland 10:58.38
2. Quintanilla (equal time)
3. Salvatierra, +20:58 min
4. Rodrigues, +26.16
5. Renet, +31.40