Battling against the heat and the massive Moroccan dunes for a third consecutive day, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla has secured a solid runner-up result on the first part of the two-day-long Marathon Stage. Continuing to improve his speed and navigational skills, Andrew Short brought his FR 450 Rally machine home in 12th position.
For reigning Cross-Country Rallies World Champion Quintanilla, it was another positive day in the dunes of Morocco. Among the first riders to take the start of today’s timed special, Pablo used his experience to post the second fastest time for the day. Remaining third in the rally’s provisional overall standings, Pablo has reduced the gap to the rider in second to a tiny margin of one minute and one second.
Following Tuesday’s tough stage, motocross legend Andrew Short attacked today’s timed special with the goal to continue learning the ropes of rally racing. Earning 12th for the day, the American now has his eyes set on securing a top 10 spot in the rally’s final overall standings. Reaching the end of today’s stage without any problems, the two Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing riders will have to prepare their machines for tomorrow’s stage without any external assistance.
Tomorrow’s stage four of the Merzouga Rally will be the second and final part of the two-day-long Marathon stage. Featuring a 233km long timed special in a total of 372km to be ridden during the day, it will reunite competitors with their assistance crews at the Tombouctou Hotel.
Daniel Trauner – Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Rally team manager: “Everything has been going according to plan for us. Pablo remains well in contention for a good overall result and we will do our best to help him achieve it. Pablo got lost in the opening stage and lost some time, but using his experience he quickly got the time back in the following stage. He caught Barreda 120km into stage two and continued pushing hard until the end. Today’s stage three had some difficult navigation and some tricky stony terrain. Pablo lost some time to the leader but the gaps are still relatively small. We are satisfied with the performance of both our riders. Coming back from injury Andrew is doing great. He’s taking his time to learn and improve while showing some good speed in some sections. It will still take some time before Andrew can catch the very fast pace of the leading pack, but he is making progress and we are confident he will get stronger in the future. Our riders are now at the bivouac ready for tomorrow’s penultimate stage.”
2018 Merzouga Rally – Stage 3 Provisional Classification
1. Joan Barreda (Honda) 03:23:42
2. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 03:32:41
3. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 03:32:57
4. Toby Price (KTM) 03:34:31
5. Franco Caimi (Yamaha) 03:35:03
6. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 03:37:14
12. Andrew Short (Husqvarna) 03:43:42
2018 Merzouga Rally – Provisional Overall Classification [After Stage 3]
1. Joan Barreda (Honda) 09:36:09
2. Kevin Benavides (Honda) 09:49:00
3. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 09:50:01
4. Franco Caimi (Yamaha) 09:54:31
5. Toby Price (KTM) 09:56:26
6. Ricky Brabec (Honda) 10:01:02
12. Andrew Short (Husqvarna) 10:33:19