Monster Energy Honda Team rider Pablo Quintanilla has claimed victory in the 2021 Rallye du Maroc with a final stage win that saw him overtake Mathias Walkner for overall victory.
Walkner finished eighth on the final stage to hold onto second overall while Australian Daniel Sanders finished third on the final stage to grab the final podium spot overall. American Ricky Brabec was second on the final stage and missed a top three after getting lost on yesterday’s fourth stage.
While Walkner may have lost the event, second place saw the 2018 Dakar winner wrap up the 2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship.
After only five months with his new outfit, Chilean rider Pablo Quintanilla clinched his first race victory aboard the Honda CRF450 RALLY. The occasion also marks Quintanilla’s maiden win in Morocco as he gets back to winning ways after the 2019 Atacama Rally. The team tally now lies at three stage wins in Morocco. Honda’s last win in Morocco was achieved by Paulo Gonçalves in the 2013 edition.
The 166-kilometre final special stage went quickly for most of the riders still in contention for victory at this Rallye du Maroc. David Castera, race director, had designed a stage with very little navigation. With little movement of wind, the dust hanging in the air accompanied the riders throughout the journey, making it impossible for riders starting from the rear to make up time.
Pablo Quintanilla started in a fine position from which to attack Mathias Walkner’s lead. Quintanilla held a sufficiently strong pace to allow him to fulfill the main mission and capture the final stage of the Rallye du Maroc.
“I am very happy with the victory,” Quintanilla said. “It was a very difficult week and I want to thank the whole team for the great job they did. It was fantastic for us. Personally, I felt very comfortable, I was riding with great pace, with good navigation and that’s very good for my confidence. I am also very motivated for the next objective, which is the Dakar. We are going to take a short break, rest, recharge our batteries and then we will concentrate on the Dakar.”
Ricky Brabec was unable to whittle down the gap separating him from his rivals in the general standings and, in spite of finishing runner-up today, narrowly missed out on a podium place.
“I’m happy to finish another rally, it’s been good training for the Dakar,” Brabec said. “I’m also very excited for the Honda team to be on top of the podium. Unfortunately, we couldn’t have two Honda riders on the final podium. It takes a lot of guts to win a stage and it takes a lot of courage to open a stage: only three riders have opened this rally, and I think we opened the most difficult stages. I’m really looking forward to the Dakar and this was just training. I made a couple of mistakes and missed out on the podium on the last day, but at least we’ll get home safe and sound and get back to training to be ready for the Dakar.”
With another top-two result in Morocco Walkner has shown he is clearly on form and will now be aiming to carry his winning momentum into the final round of the series at Abu Dhabi before focusing on the 2022 Dakar next January.
“It’s been a super cool rally for me (in Morocco). I set out this morning hoping to take the win, but I made a small mistake about halfway through that only maybe cost me a minute, but it was enough on the shortened stage to lose out. Second place is great though and to win the world championship title early is amazing. The team has been great all year, so a big thank you to them. It’s time to relax now and really enjoy the moment.” Walkner said.
Daniel Sanders secured third overall for his, and GASGAS’, first ever podium result in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship! Even with a minor setback on day three, the Aussie turned things around on the final two stages, upping his pace and rapidly closing in on the leader to complete the rally just over five minutes short of the win.
“The last day is done and what a week it’s been! Opening the final stage was pretty cool,” Sanders said. “After around 80 kilometers the navigation became a bit more tricky so I had to slow my pace to make sure I was on the right path. I actually had a small crash in the dunes but I was up quick and straight back on a decent rhythm. I’m really happy to have finished third on this stage after opening and overall it’s been a great week. To end it with a podium and secure the first podium result for GASGAS in the world championship is really cool. Now I’m looking forward to the next race in Abu Dhabi.”
The final round of the 2021 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge begins on November 6.
Stage 5 Results
|1||QUINTANILLA Pablo||CHI||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||1:39’12|
|2||BRABEC Ricky||USA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+0’17|
|3||SANDERS Daniel||AUS||Gas Gas Factory Team||Gas Gas||+0’18|
|4||PRICE Toby||AUS||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||KTM||0’37+|
|5||EVAN BRANCH Ross||BWA||Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team||Yamaha||+0’37|
|6||BARREDA Joan||SPA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+1’05|
|7||HOWES Skyler||USA||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna||+1’58|
|8||WALKNER Matthias||AUT||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||KTM||+2’36|
|9||VAN BEVEREN Adrien||FRA||Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team||Yamaha||+3’45|
|10||BÜHLER Sebastian||POR||Hero Motorsports Team Rally||Hero||+4’51|
|11||RODRIGUES Joaquim||POR||Hero Motorsports Team Rally||Hero||+5’27|
|12||SHORT Andrew||USA||Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team||Yamaha||+6’06|
|13||CAIMI Franco||ARG||Hero Motorsports Team Rally||Hero||+6’24|
|14||BENAVIDES Kevin||ARG||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||KTM||+6’29|
|15||SVITKO Stefan||SLO||Slovnaft Team||KTM||+6’34|
Final Standings Rallye du Maroc 2021
|1||QUINTANILLA Pablo||CHI||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||16:26’51|
|2||WALKNER Matthias||AUT||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||KTM||+1’59|
|3||SANDERS Daniel||AUS||Gas Gas Factory Team||Gas Gas||+5’27|
|4||BRABEC Ricky||USA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+7’14|
|5||VAN BEVEREN Adrien||FRA||Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team||Yamaha||+18’01|
|6||BENAVIDES Luciano||ARG||Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing||Husqvarna||+34’03|
|7||BENAVIDES Kevin||ARG||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||KTM||+39’38|
|8||RODRIGUES Joaquim||POR||Hero Motorsports Team Rally||Hero||+41’03|
|9||SHORT Andrew||USA||Monster Energy Yamaha Rally Team||Yamaha||+41’53|
|10||CORNEJO José Ignacio||CHI||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+45’19|