MOTOCROSSTIME - NEWS FROM ABU DHABI DESERT CHALLENGE
ROCKSTAR ENERGY HUSQVARNA FACTORY RACING RALLY STAR TAKES CONTROL WITH THREE STAGES STILL TO BE CONTESTED IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Following a well calculated plan of attack, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla has won the second timed special of the 2018 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge to place himself at the top of the event’s provisional overall standings. The Chilean rider is a little over one minute ahead in the overall with three stages still to be contested in the dunes of UAE.
The fifth rider to take the start of Monday’s 287km long timed special, FR 450 Rally mounted Quintanilla made the most of his good starting position. Avoiding any mistakes, the reigning FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion enjoyed a great pace throughout the stage to eventually put in the best time for the day.
With two of the five special stages out of the way, Pablo is currently leading the rally’s overall standings by one minute and eight seconds from his closest rival Sam Sunderland.
Featuring a total of 372km, tomorrow’s stage includes a 281km long timed special in the big dunes of the United Arab Emirates. Pablo Quintanilla: “It wasn’t an easy stage today but I’m satisfied with the final result. There were many dunes and temperatures were quite high in that area. Most of the timed special was in an off-piste section and that made navigation a lot more difficult. I had a good starting position in the morning and took full advantage of it to make up the time lost yesterday. I felt really good in the dunes today, I was fast and had a good race pace from start to finish of the timed special. It was a good stage for me. The plan for tomorrow is to do exactly what I did in stage one. As the first rider to take the start, I want to avoid any navigational mistakes and remain fast throughout the timed special. I feel good at the moment on my bike and I’m looking forward to one more good stage tomorrow.”
Kevin Benavides consolidates his position in the leading group at the Desert Challenge
The second stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, held in the middle of the Liwa desert, proved to be a high-speed affair full of many steep, waving dunes, combined with others with sharp descents. So as to avoid potential accidents, riders were forced to be prudent and pay close attention to the roadbooks. The day’s stage was the longest of the competition with a total of 519.71 kilometres, including 287.9 km of timed special.
Kevin Benavides has continued to shine as the leading rider of the Monster Energy Honda Team in this second stage. The Argentine rider upped the pace, narrowing the gap with the riders ahead and clawing back precious time dropped in the opening stage yesterday. Benavides finished in second place on the day and holds third in the provisional standings, less than two minutes behind the leader.
Paulo Gonçalves, on his second day of racing after more than two months without competing, was able to find a good rhythm which allowed him to finish in fourth position at the end of the day and move to fifth in the overall rally standings. American Ricky Brabec, sixth yesterday, repeated the performance today to finish in the same position. José Ignacio Cornejo and Michael Metge continue to learn how to interpret the terrain and gradually increase their speed. Neither suffered any mechanical mishaps.
Kevin Benavides 2 ” Today was better than yesterday, with more pace and better sensations. I felt better reading the terrain in this complicated desert, where it is difficult to ride well without taking risks. We all arrived together, pushing hard. It was a 100% dune stage, which was quite fun on the bike, that hasn’t caused any problems. We continue to get more kilometres under the belt.”
Paulo Goncalves 4 : ” It was a good day’s rally; long and very beautiful, with 300 kilometres of dunes. I tried to do the best I could. I felt physically better, with quite a bit of pace and I also tried to push hard and speed up. I saw that I could do it well, although I had to take some precautions. We will continue to ride and put some more kilometres in.”
Ricky Brabec 11 ” It was a fast day. We don’t really like it so much because it’s so fast and dangerous. It’s hard to read the sand. Sometimes it’s red and orange and white. It’s difficult to know if it’s rolling style sand or if it’s cut. But I’m just glad that we’ve made it back safely and are still in the rally.”
Michael Metge 12 ” This second day I felt more motivated, since I managed to adjust the rear shock much better than yesterday. I had more traction and I was able to cope with it much better. The special was very fast and with great undulations and some big dips from time to time. I didn’t really keep a very fast pace because I did not want to take risks. Tomorrow we will try to go better.”
José Ignacio Cornejo 14 ” It was a fast stage, with a lot of speed. I felt better than yesterday, but I was riding alone almost all day, so it took me a while to find a good pace. I think that, other than that, we are improving. For the next few days we will be looking to keep improving.”
WALKNER CLAIMS THIRD ON STAGE TWO OF 2018 ABU DHABI DESERT CHALLENGE
There were mixed fortunes for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team on day three of the 2018 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. The 287.92km timed special stage, the second of the rally, was again predominantly made up of the deep sand dunes of the Liwa Desert, south of the city of Abu Dhabi. The three-rider KTM team, having all placed in the top-three on stage one of the rally, were first away this morning. Toby Price was given the difficult task of opening the stage. Setting off third, Matthias Walkner made the most of his advantageous start position. The Austrian managed to catch team-mate Sunderland towards the end of the stage and the pair raced together to the finish. Crossing the line together, Walkner would ultimately place third, with Sunderland two places behind in fifth.
Matthias Walkner: “That was another good day for me. My goal from the start was to catch the guys in front. I caught them quite late in the stage, which shows their pace, but the main thing was to gain those valuable minutes. I’m fourth overall now which is encouraging for the rest of this rally. My feeling on the bike is good and I’m starting to get more comfortable. I am really enjoying the rally, it’s been great so far and tomorrow I will do my best to move up the order a little more.”
Securing fifth on today’s stage, Sam Sunderland retained his runner-up position in the provisional overall standings. Sam in now just over one-minute behind the leader, Pablo Quintanilla. The Brit will be the fifth rider away on Tuesday’s stage, giving him the perfect opportunity to chase down the competitors in front. Sam Sunderland: “Although the results don’t look that good on paper, this race is always strategic and whenever you start at the front, you lose time on riders behind you. I caught Toby quite early on and was able to push quite hard today. I was feeling great on the bike and keeping to a good pace. Normally the guys behind catch you quite fast, but today I wasn’t caught until the 240km marker – that is really encouraging and shows my speed on the stage. Tomorrow I will set off fifth and my plan is to push hard again and catch the guys in front.”
After his win on Sunday’s stage, Toby Price was the first rider away from the line early this morning. With no tracks to follow, the 2016 Dakar Rally Champion had the difficult task of being the first to navigate the route and find his own way through the dunes. A crash caused an issue with the fuel line on Price’s KTM 450 RALLY. Despite the off, and taking some time to remedy the problem, the Australian managed to successfully complete the stage in 11th place and will aim to chase down the leaders tomorrow. Toby Price: “The morning went really well, opening the stage was tricky but I felt good and the bike was perfect. Sam caught me around the 65km mark and we rode together for a fair bit at a nice comfortable pace. Unfortunately, not so far after the refuel I had a crash – it was quite a big one but thankfully I wasn’t hurt. I had an issue then with the bash-plate on the bike. It had been bent back so it damaged the fuel line. I had no choice but to stop and fix it and ended up losing over 30 minutes. I am feeling a little stiff and sore now, but I’m ready for tomorrow. Hopefully I can claw some time back on the front-runners.”
2018 Cross-Country Rallies Results :
Stage 2 :
|1||QUINTANILLA Pablo||1||CHI||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna||3:40’37|
|2||BENAVIDES Kevin||2||ARG||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+3’01|
|3||WALKNER Matthias||3||AUT||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||KTM||+6’01|
|4||GONCALVES Paulo||4||POR||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+6’58|
|5||SUNDERLAND Sam||5||GBR||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||KTM||+8’59|
|6||BRABEC Ricky||11||USA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+12’57|
|7||CORNEJO José Ignacio||14||CHI||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+14’12|
|8||METGE Michael||12||FRA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+18’45|
|9||AL BALOOSHI Mohammed||7||UAE||Balooshi Racing KTM UAE||KTM||+21’57|
|10||MCBRIDE David||8||GBR||Vendetta Racing UAE||KTM||+37’19|
Provisional Standings after Stage 2
|1||QUINTANILLA Pablo||1||CHI||Husqvarna Factory Rally Team||Husqvarna||7:04’19|
|2||SUNDERLAND Sam||5||GBR||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||KTM||+1’08|
|3||BENAVIDES Kevin||2||ARG||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+1’55|
|4||WALKNER Matthias||3||AUT||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||KTM||+2’39|
|5||GONCALVES Paulo||4||POR||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+13’25|
|6||BRABEC Ricky||11||USA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+14’10|
|7||CORNEJO José Ignacio||14||CHI||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+22’51|
|8||PRICE Toby||6||AUS||Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team||KTM||+26’42|
|9||METGE Michael||12||FRA||Monster Energy Honda Team||Honda||+29’09|
|10||AL BALOOSHI Mohammed||7||UAE||Balooshi Racing KTM UAE||KTM||+30’38|