Pablo Quintanilla has placed fifth on the opening stage of the 2019 Rally du Maroc. Making light work of the long timed special, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider will now enjoy an advantageous start position for Sunday’s marathon stage. Andrew Short also secured a solid result on the closely-fought stage, finishing 13th.

Carrying the momentum that took him to the win at round three of the 2019 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, Pablo Quintanilla mastered the tough terrain on the route from Fes to Erfoud to post one of the fastest stage times of the day. As the 18th rider to enter the stage following his steady performance on Friday’s Prologue, the Chilean star made the most of his position and experience to hunt down the riders ahead of him. Unfortunately, a four-minute penalty imposed for a timing error dropped the former world champion from the provisional win to fifth.

Competing in the Rally du Maroc for the third time, Andrew Short made a good start to the 2019 event by posting the eighth-fastest time on the short 7.3-kilometre Prologue. Although preferring the sand stages, the American star maintained a strong pace on the fast, rocky tracks of stage one to ultimately finish 13th, just minutes down on his teammate.

Sunday’s 435-kilometre stage two, the first half of the marathon stage, includes a long 386-kilometre timed special. With no outside assistance allowed, riders must look after their bikes and tyres for the whole stage and carry out any required maintenance themselves at the bivouac.

Pablo Quintanilla: “It was a really tough day, all the stage was stony with some very technical parts. It would have been really easy to make a small mistake and lose control of the bike so I just tried to keep a constant rhythm and ride safe. I am happy to finish the first day, it wasn’t so easy with the new style of road book but I think we will soon get used to the new colours and style of notes. I’m happy and really motivated for the rest of the race.”

Andrew Short: “Today’s stage was really similar to the last stage of last year – really rocky and mostly just car tracks with not a lot of sand or washes. Over the next two or three days I’m expecting more sand and dunes, which is a lot more fun for me. Today wasn’t as enjoyable because of the rocks but it’s a part of the race and a part of rally. Overall, I’m pleased with how the day went, but more looking forward to tomorrow.”

2019 Rally du Maroc – Stage 1 Provisional Classification

1. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 3:16:41
2. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 3:17:33
3. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 3:18:49
4. Toby Price (KTM) 3:18:52
5. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 3:16:16
6. Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco) 3:20:25

13. Andrew Short (Husqvarna) 3:22:09

2019 Rally du Maroc – Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 1]

1. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 3:42:45
2. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 3:43:53
3. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 3:44:37
4. Toby Price (KTM) 3:45:00
5. Luciano Benavides (KTM) 3:46:38
6. Daniel Nosiglia (Honda) 3:47:27

9. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 3:47:34
13. Andrew Short (Husqvarna) 3:48:09

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