Rockstar Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla has ridden to victory on stage nine of the 2020 Dakar today.
The Spanish rider put in an excellent performance on the 410-kilometre stage to slowly build his pace from the start, going on to claim the win by close to two minutes at the finish.
Stage eight of the Dakar Rally was cancelled for all riders in the motorcycle class out of respect for Paulo Goncalves who lost his life on Sunday.
Competitors returned to racing today with the long, 886-kilometre stage nine that led the field from Wadi Al Dawasir to Haradh. Initially faced with an arduous liaison, riders then entered the timed special that presented all with a challenging route made up of rocky tracks and stony riverbeds.
Third quickest to the first checkpoint, Quintanilla made his way past several riders in front to take the provisional lead by kilometre 244. Maintaining that position to the finish, despite pressure from riders behind, the two-time world champion claimed the win by almost two minutes from Toby Price. With three stages left to race, Pablo sits second overall in the provisional standings behind Ricky Brabec.
“It was a strange feeling this morning after what happened to Paulo, but I think it was good to get riding again,” said Quintanilla.
“There was a long liaison this morning and it was very cold, but I felt better when we hit the special and I was able to push right away. In the end, I won the stage, which was a fitting way to honour Paulo.
“But now, with stage eight cancelled, my strategy is more complicated. My goal from here is to push and try to make up as much time over the final three days as possible.”