Pablo Quintanilla to fight nail and tooth for the overall Dakar 2022 win

2022-01-13 11:56
Monster Energy Honda Team’s Dakar Rally battle will go down to the wire. After the penultimate stage, Pablo Quintanilla holds second overall place with a chance of victory. There are still over 150 kilometres left to go, with the Dakar often producing final stage surprises.

Today’s special stage, as expected, was an intriguing one. The strategy of the previous day, which saw some riders managing to lose time, yet drop many positions, in order to benefit in today’s starting order, dictated for the most part, what happened on the route today. Some 346 kilometres of sand and dunes, on a total stage of just over 500 kilometres, helped define how the podium is likely to look at the end. The Bisha loop caused a few losses, but many riders were able to make up for time they had lost yesterday.

Ricky Brabec was the best-placed Monster Energy Honda Team rider on the day. The American finished in fifth place, moving up into six place overall, a position which he hopes to consolidate tomorrow. Brabec finished just one place ahead of team-mate Pablo Quintanilla. Pablo, sixth, performed well today – well enough to be in contention tomorrow and could improve on his current second place in this 2022 Dakar. The Chilean biker is less than seven minutes behind the overall race leader. If the full length of the final special stage goes ahead as planned tomorrow, the rider could well spring a surprise and stand a chance of scooping the world’s toughest rally.

Chilean José Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Cornejo also had a good day in spite of a minor mistake in the opening kilometres of the special. Today’s seventh place also puts him into the same position in the general rankings. Lastly, Joan Barreda was lumbered with opening the track today as the riders ahead forced him to carry the stage’s main burden. The conditions were not ideal for Joan who struggled to make progress in the soft dunes of Bisha. With a fall included, the Spaniard finished sixteenth in RallyGP and is fifth in the general standings, nearly half an hour behind the race leader.

Tomorrow’s stage

Bisha-Jeddah. The final stage of the Dakar Rally 2022 will be decided over a total of 676 kilometres, including just 163 against the clock. Leaving the dunes behind, the race will be fought over hard tracks with some sand. A lot of technical complexity is expected before the riders reach the shores of the Red Sea, with the final podium set to take place on the Bisha street circuit.

Ricky Brabec 2

This year's Dakar has been difficult for me personally, to get back into the fight after a bad start. The team didn't let us down, so we can't let them down.... We have tried very hard to do our best and give it our all. On this stage 11 we tried very hard to do a good job; I would have liked to make up a lot more time than I did. I'm happy with the way I'm riding and I'm happy with the team, I've learned a lot. Our team-mate Pablo can do it tomorrow. Unfortunately, I heard that the stage will be shortened, which in my opinion is unfair.

Ricky Brabec

Pablo Quintanilla 7

It was a difficult stage. One of the hardest we've done on this Dakar, with a lot of wind, with sectors of very soft dunes. It was very difficult to make progress. I tried to push as hard as I could from the first kilometre; it wasn't easy. I really let rip but without losing my concentration. In the end, it was a good day, I gave 100% and I think that's what's important, that I gave my best every day. There is still one day left and the race is not over until you cross the finish-line. Tomorrow we will attack again from the first kilometre.

Pablo Quintanilla

José Ignacio Cornejo 11

It was a good stage; not the best, but not the worst either. I made a small mistake at the start, where I lost a few minutes. Mathias passed me and we ended up riding together until the end. I think it was a solid stage. We also moved up in the overall standings, which makes me happy because we have managed to overcome a bad first stage. We are not where we wanted to be. Tomorrow the rally will be over, so we will draw our conclusions afterwards.

José Ignacio Cornejo

Joan Barreda 88
STAGE: 16th OVERALL: 5th

Today was a very difficult stage, I could say it was one of the most difficult I've ever done. I had to open the track from kilometre 4. I tried to keep a good pace, but I encountered some tough situations, with very soft sand that made it almost impossible to move forward; the bike got stuck about ten times, including one where I was thrown off completely and Toby and Luciano helped me to get the bike back upright. I want to say thanks to both. We opened the track all day long. I'm happy because I gave 100%. Some days go well and others not so well. But the best thing is to be satisfied with yourself.

Source: Honda Racing Corporation

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