Claiming his first individual stage victory of the 2019 Dakar Rally, Pablo Quintanilla has retaken the lead of the event‰Ûªs provisional overall standings.
Monster Energy Honda Team's Kevin Benavides followed Quintanilla in with just under a two minute deficit while the KTM duo of Matthias Walkner and Toby Price were a further 2 minutes back in third and fourth respectively. Leader of the Rally going into the sixth stage, Ricky Brabec dropped to second after finishing seven and a half minutes down in sixth. Australian Toby Price jumped up to third spot and is now only five minutes off the lead.
With the rally now past the halfway stage and heading back towards the host city of Lima, stage six covered some of the same ground as previous stages. An extremely long day for all competitors, the 838 kilometres total distance included a 336-kilometre timed special. The route took riders through the characteristic soft sand dunes of the Ica desert before subjecting them to faster, more open rocky pistes. A strong wind towards the end of the stage only added to the challenge.
Entering the second week of Dakar in high spirits, Pablo Quintanilla put in a great performance on stage six. Involved in a battle for the stage victory with fellow South American Kevin Benavides, Quintanilla took the virtual lead before the penultimate waypoint and never looked back.
Following a well-considered plan of attack, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider has put himself back into the rally‰Ûªs overall lead with four crucial stages still to be contested in the Peruvian countryside. Overall, the Chilean is now four minutes and 38 seconds ahead of his closest rival.
‰ÛÏEverything went according to plan today and I‰Ûªm happy with the stage win. The day wasn‰Ûªt easy, the pace was quite fast, and navigation was difficult," Quintanilla explained.
"We also had to race through strong headwinds," the 32-year-old continued. "We had a good battle with Kevin Benavides and at one point I managed to pass him and retain the lead. It‰Ûªs good to be back on top in the overall. The race is still long and I want to stick to my plan. Tomorrow I will be the first rider to start the stage and this is surely a disadvantage. But my plan is to fight back for a good result on day eighth and then take advantage of the mass start on day nine. Lots of things can happen these next few days but I will do my best to keep my eyes focused on my goals.‰Û