Rallye

Quintanilla Bounces Back on Penultimate Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Stage

Toby Price has best day so far with second on stage

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Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing‰Ûªs Pablo Quintanilla bounced back in a big way on stage four taking a commanding and convincing victory
Making short work of a demanding stage four at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Pablo Quintanilla has secured stage victory and regained the lead in the event‰Ûªs provisional overall standings.

With tomorrow‰Ûªs timed special featuring a motocross-styled start, the Chilean rally star is entering the fifth and final stage of the event with a lead of six minutes and 17 seconds in the provisional overall.

Australian Toby Price had his best day so far with second on the stage while Honda dominated the next four places with Paulo Goncalves, Ignacio Cornejo, Michael Metge and Ricky Brabec filling out the top six in that order.

Yesterday's stage winner Sam Sunderland had a disappointing day finishing ninth, but retained second in the overall standings.

Featuring a 244km long timed special in the dunes of the Liwa Desert, Wednesday‰Ûªs stage four of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge was no walk in the park. The eighth rider to take the start this morning, FR 450 Rally mounted Quintanilla made the best of his advantageous position to make up for the time lost during a tough stage three yesterday.

Topping two out of four stages contested so far in the United Arab Emirates, Quintanilla has put himself in the best possible position ahead of tomorrow‰Ûªs final stage. Leading the overall by a little more than six minutes to Sam Sunderland and close to 10 minutes to Kevin Benavides, Quintanilla will look to wrap up his week-long adventure in the massive dunes of the UAE with the overall victory tomorrow.

‰ÛÏEverything is going according to plan and I‰Ûªm happy about it," Quintanilla said. "Today I had a really good start position and took full advantage of it. It‰Ûªs always difficult to ride fast in the dunes and the off-piste sections, but I did my best to remain focused and avoid mistakes.

"I made some good passes today and had a good pace from start to finish. I‰Ûªm happy I got the stage victory but most importantly I am satisfied I made up some good time in the overall. I have a small but decent gap in the lead going into tomorrow‰Ûªs final stage. I‰Ûªm happy to be in this position and I will do my best to bring home the overall victory at this rally. It would be the best possible way to start the new season.‰Û
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing's Toby Price had his best stage result with second place and as a result moved himself up from 11th to 8th in the standings. Photo: Marcin Kin
After a difficult stage three, Toby Price set off 11th in the morning. The Australian, with plenty of tracks already laid down in the desert ahead of him, soon made his way through the field. Enjoying a good consistent pace despite still nursing a small injury from his crash earlier in the rally, Price was able to claw back some time on the competitors in front.

Arriving at the finish in second place, the 2016 Dakar Champion was pleased with his result and now looks ahead to tomorrow‰Ûªs final stage.

‰ÛÏThe bike performed really well today. I‰Ûªm still suffering a little from my crash on Monday, but I managed to ride a good stage today," Price said. "My back is stiff and sore and there are a lot of big dips in between dunes here that cause the bikes to bottom out. I am losing some time there because I have to take them a bit steady. All-in-all I‰Ûªm happy, looking forward to the final stage and completing the rally tomorrow.‰Û
Paulo Gon̤alves, third on stage, lead home the whole Monster Energy Honda Team with his team-mates filling the next four places. Photo: Edoardo Bauer
Paulo Gon̤alves proved to be the best Monster Energy Honda Team rider, posting third. After having fallen yesterday, the Portuguese rider made a cautious start to the day, but was soon in all-out attack mode, maintaining a cracking pace that allowed him to take third position.

"Today I started off prudently after the fall in the dunes yesterday - with a calm, safe pace," Gon̤alves explained. "I enjoyed not having so much pressure to want to go fast and I focused on doing it right, without mistakes, I'm satisfied. We have one more race day left and up until now we have clocked up a 1000 kilometres of dunes; I couldn‰Ûªt wait for a better test than this to see what state I am in after the injury I had last December."
New Monster Energy Honda Team rider Jose Ignacio Cornejo impressed with his best result of fourth on stage. Photo: Edoardo Bauer
Chilean Jose Ignacio Cornejo, fourth, and Michael Metge, fifth, continued the flow of Honda's and rode to their best performances in this Desert Challenge. Ricky Brabec, sixth, held a solid pace ahead of Kevin Benavides, seventh place finisher on the day.

"Today I had a good stage, the best for me since we started this rally," Cornejo said. "I felt that I had a better pace, I was able to read the desert faster, which is not easy at all. I made it back well, without any problems. I could have found that pace earlier, but we're here to learn and improve, and I think that's what I'm doing. Tomorrow we will accelerate right up to the final kilometre."

Michael Metge hada bit of trouble with the conditions, admitting he didn't have a complete handle on the landscape.

"The first part was similar to the second stage special: large dunes and many of them cut," Metge said. "I haven‰Ûªt completely understood how to read this type of dunes and therefore I didn‰Ûªt start out so well at the beginning, but in the second part, which has been something more technical and without so many big dunes, is where I have been able to enjoy being behind the handlebars of the Honda CRF450 RALLY."
American Ricky Brabec finished sixth and now sits sixth in the overall with one stage left. Photo: Edoardo Bauer
Ricky Brabec found the stage to especially fast and hard to come to terms with the dangers the stage held.

"I‰Ûªve realized that this a really dangerous rally," Brabec said. "It‰Ûªs really fast. More navigation would be key just to slow it down. The first 100k was a little bit dangerous and fast. I took it easy. It‰Ûªs hard to read the undulations of the dunes. Then I saw the helicopter and the riders up ahead, so I pushed hard. Once you catch the group, it‰Ûªs had to get away. We all arrived together and arrived well.
Leader going into the stage, Sam Sunderland, saw his lead evaporate as he struggled after crashing early in the stage. Photo: Marcin Kin
Sam Sunderland‰Ûªs ninth place was enough to retain second overall in the provisional overall standings. Entering tomorrow‰Ûªs final stage, the 2017 Dakar Champion is looking for a consistent pace that will see him wrap up the event in the United Arab Emirates on a high note.

‰ÛÏIt was a disappointing day for me today," Sunderland lamented. "I had a crash right at the beginning of the stage and although I was lucky to come out of it relatively unhurt, it did end up costing me precious time and slowed me down for the rest of the special. Opening the stage is never easy but my plan was to try to find a good rhythm and stick to it.

"Unfortunately, there was a really blind drop-off on one of the dunes and I didn‰Ûªt see it until the last minute. I came off the bike and damaged the navigation equipment, hurt my knee a little and split my camelback. I ended up riding the remaining 235km with no GPS and no water. All I can do now is learn from my mistake and move on. Tomorrow is a mass-start day so I‰Ûªll take it easy, get to the finish and hopefully hold on to second overall.‰Û
Matthias Walkner was second onto the stage at dawn, but soon caught up with team-mate Sunderland following the Brit‰Ûªs crash at the 10-kilometre marker.e finished just ahead of the Brit in 8th and is now 4th overall. Photo: Marcin Kin
Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2018 - Stage 4 results
1 Quintanilla Pablo 1 CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna 3:16'53
2 Price Toby 6 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +2'35
3 Goncalves Paulo 4 POR Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +5'42
4 Cornejo Jos̩ Ignacio 14 CHI Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +6'43
5 Metge Michael 12 FRA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +6'48
6 Brabec Ricky 11 USA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +8'23
7 Benavides Kevin 2 ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +11'05
8 Walkner Matthias 3 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +14'21
9 Sunderland Sam 5 GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +17'11
10 McBride David 8 GBR Vendetta Racing UAE KTM +34'09

Provisional standings after Stage 4
1 Quintanilla Pablo 1 CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna 14:03'06
2 Sunderland Sam 5 GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +6'17
3 Benavides Kevin 2 ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +9'59
4 Walkner Matthias 3 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +11'01
5 Goncalves Paulo 4 POR Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +17'59
6 Brabec Ricky 11 USA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +20'06
7 Cornejo Jos̩ Ignacio 14 CHI Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +29'01
8 Price Toby 6 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +30'24
9 Metge Michael 12 FRA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +37'31
10 McBride David 8 GBR Vendetta Racing UAE KTM +2:07'15

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