Following Pablo Quintanilla’s victorious outing in the United Arab Emirates less than a month ago, the Chilean rally star has been joined by his team-mate Andrew Short in Morocco, with the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing duo getting their participation at the 2018 Merzouga Rally underway on Sunday. Securing eighth and 14th respectively in the short Prologue, the two FR 450 Rally powered riders are looking ahead to five long and challenging rally stages in the dunes of Morocco.
Winner of the 2018 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in late March, Quintanilla will be looking for an equally positive result this week in Morocco. Enjoying a good overall feeling aboard his Husqvarna during the short Prologue on Sunday, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider is just 30 seconds behind the provisional overall leader as the Merzouga Rally is entering its first long rally stage on Monday.
Back to full fitness following his injury at the Dakar Rally, Andrew Short is excited to be back racing his FR 450 Rally machine. Making full use of the experience he collected during his first participation at the Dakar last January, the American has his eyes set on a good overall performance this week in Morocco.
Featuring a Prologue and five gruelling rally stages in the dunes of Morocco, the 2018 Merzouga Rally is a week-long challenge of more than 1,500km. Taking place on Monday, stage one of the event features a timed special of 206km. It will be the first of five demanding rally stages in the sandy dunes of the Merzouga Desert.
Pablo Quintanilla: “We had a good first day to get into race mode. We started with a free practice session in the morning and then went on to contest a short Prologue of just five kilometres. For such a short Prologue it is always tricky to get a great result. I’m happy with where we’re at right now. The race will be long and we can expect some surprises. We’ve already gotten the roadbook for the first stage and it was easy to see we’re down for a tricky stage tomorrow. The goal for me is to get into a good race pace, avoid mistakes and continue pushing to make up for the time lost today in the Prologue.”
Andrew Short: “I’m just happy to be back racing. I think the Merzouga Rally is a great race and I’m planning to make full use of my time here in Morocco to continue improving. After’s today’s short Prologue, we’re heading to the dunes tomorrow, where navigation is expected to be really tricky for all. It’s been great meeting the team again and I’m excited for the challenge that lies ahead. I will do my best for a good overall result during the next few days.”
Download high-res images from the 2018 Merzouga Rally here.
2018 Merzouga Rally – Prologue Provisional Classification
1. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 05:25
2. Toby Price (KTM) 05:28
3. Paulo Goncalves (Honda) 05:42
4. Juan Pedrero (Sherco) 05:45
5. Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco) 05: 46
6. Laia Sanz (KTM) 05:49
8. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 05:55
14. Andrew Short (Husqvarna) 06:07