Penultimate day 11 at Dakar Rally lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla has delivered his best result of the 2021 Dakar Rally to date with an excellent second-place finish on a highly challenging day 11. Never dropping below the top three for the entire 464km special, Quintanilla ultimately brought his FR 450 Rally home as runner-up, less than three minutes down on the eventual stage winner.

Presenting riders with varied terrain throughout the stage, the penultimate day at Dakar lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest. Technically demanding navigation and a huge area of soft dunes, covering almost 100km, were the highlights of the route that led south from AlUla to Yanbu.

Struggling to find his rhythm over the last few stages, Pablo Quintanilla came into form where it mattered most with the experienced Chilean racer putting in an impressive performance, coming from a 15th place start to claim second at the finish. Overtaking a considerable number of competitors, Pablo was the leading rider on time at the third checkpoint. Losing a few minutes to the eventual stage winner over the dunes, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing star dropped down to second – a place he held right to the line. His excellent showing on the challenging stage resulted in Quintanilla moving one-place higher in the provisional rally standings to seventh.

Pablo Quintanilla: “It has been a great stage for me today. We made some changes to the bike overnight and today things felt really good and I was comfortable enough to push. In the morning it was really dusty because I started quite far behind and it was difficult to pass some riders. But after the first neutralisation I started to find my rhythm, I was happy with the navigation and I was able to start making up some time. The stage was a tricky one with mixed terrain such as some rocky sections, some dunes, but it was quite tiring, especially when I was pushing all day. I ran out of water and started to feel a little dizzy towards the end and made a little mistake with my navigation. Overall, I really enjoyed the stage. It’s nice to be able to ride at the pace I know I’m capable of and we’ll keep pushing for a good result.”

Stage 12 of the Dakar, the final outing for all riders at this year’s race, leads from Yanbu to Jeddah. Covering a total of 452km, 225km of which will be timed special, the stage will once again take in a mixture of fast tracks and soft, desert dunes on the way to the final chequered flag of the event.

2021 Dakar Rally – Stage 11 Provisional Classification

1. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 4:35:12
2. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 4:37:52 
3. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 4:41:36
4. Daniel Sanders (KTM) 4:43:46
5. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 4:44:39
6. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 4:47:58

2021 Dakar Rally – Overall Provisional Classification (after stage 11)

1. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 45:01:44
2. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 45:05:56
3. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 45:08:57
4. Daniel Sanders (KTM) 45:34:49
5. Skyler Howes (KTM) 45:50:51
6. Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco) 45:51:10

7. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 46:02:02

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