It was not only a memorable first victory for Husqvarna Motorcycles factory team in international rally competition but also a popular win for Quintanilla’s fans at home in Chile.
Wrapping up the five stages in a combined time of 11:48.38 hours, Quintanilla was fastest home in the final 100km of sand dunes, finishing the stage in 58.51 minutes. This gave him the overall win by just 29 seconds from second-placed Toby Price of Australia, the winner of the 2016 Dakar Rally. Joining them on the podium was Kevin Benavides of Argentina, whose combined time was 9.35 minutes behind Quintanilla.
As an added bonus, Quintanilla now heads the leader board in the FIM World Cross-Country Rallies Championship going into the final Round Five, the Oillibya Rally of Morocco (October 1-7). Quintanilla leaves Chile with 66 points, three ahead of KTM factory rider Sam Sunderland. Toby Price, who had to withdraw from the Sealine Rally through injury, now has 50 points.
Pablo Quintanilla: “Today was a difficult stage for sure because the gap between me and Toby (Price) was very small. I had to push a lot to win and I am very happy. I have been looking for this victory for a long time. I put in a lot of work and I’ve been training hard. I’m happy and I’m also happy for my team because it is also our first victory of the season and we are now leading the championship, which is my goal. Now I need to keep up this training rhythm and focus on being 100% fit for Morocco, where I will try my best to be the world champion.”
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna factory teammate Pela Renet of France, who has been gaining in confidence during the rally, finished in a solid seventh in the final stage, only 7.15 minutes off the pace. This placed him at overall 11th for the competition.
Final Overall Results after five stages 1. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, 11:42.38 h 2. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, +0.29 sec 3. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, +9.35 min 4. Paolo Goncalves (POR), Honda, +10.02 5. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM, +38.43 11. Pela Renet (FRA), Husqvarna, +1:51.40
Stage Five Results 1. Quintanilla 58.51 min 2. Benavides, 1.27 3. Price 1.55 4. Sunderland, 3.54 5. Goncalves +4.04 7. Renet 7.15