Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla Wins Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

Husqvarna's Pablo Quintanilla Wins Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
Huskqvarna's Pablo Quintanilla

2018 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Results

Following the Dakar Rally, anticipation quickly begins for the Cross Country Rallies World Championship. And this year’s six-round series got underway this week with the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

Four different riders claimed victories during the five-stage 2018 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. But only one rider earned two stage wins: Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla. And those two wins (stages two and four) helped the Chilean Husqvarna FR 450 Rally pilot take the overall victory.

Husqvarna's Pablo Quintanilla Wins Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge
Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla

This was the best start for the defending Cross Country Rallies World Champion, who finished 5 minutes and 11 seconds ahead of Red Bull KTM’s Sam Sunderland, the stage-three winner.

Although Monster Energy Honda’s Kevin Benavides didn’t claim any wins, his podium efforts earned him the final podium position, 8 minutes and 34 seconds behind Quintanilla.

As for the other stage winners, KTM’s Toby Price won stage one, and KTM’s Matthias Walkner, the 2018 Dakar Rally winner, stage two.

The Cross Country Rallies Championship continues April 15-20 with the Merzouga Rally on April 15/20.

Following his winning result in the United Arab Emirates, Quintanilla will be joined at the Merzouga Rally in Morocco by his Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team partner Andrew Short, a former Supercross rider.

“I’m really happy to get the win in Abu Dhabi and it’s been a fantastic start to the new season,” Pablo Quintanilla says. “This year’s Desert Challenge has been a really tough race from the beginning until the end. During these last few days we battled through extreme heat and the massive sand dunes of the area.

“There were many high-speed tracks and lots of off-piste sections where navigation was crucial. We also had some great fights with my main competitors and I’m happy I came out on top.

“I would like to thank all the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing team for the amazing job they did during this week. They are always by my side and this helps me achieve the results I want. It feels good to start the season with a victory and I’m looking forward to the events to come.”

Husqvarna FR 450 Rally Pilot Pablo Quintanilla
Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla

As for the sole American riding in the 2018 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, Monster Energy Honda’s Ricky Brabec finished sixth, just under 21 minutes behind Quintanilla.

2018 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – Final Overall Standings

11Pablo QUINTANILLACHLHusqvarna16h51m11s30
25Sam SUNDERLANDGBRKTM16h56m22s05m11s24
32Kévin BENAVIDESARGHonda16h59m45s08m34s19
43Matthias WALKNERAUTKTM17h00m47s09m36s17
54Paulo GONÇALVESPRTHonda17h09m46s18m35s14
611Ricky BRABECUSAHonda17h11m57s20m46s13
76Toby PRICEAUSKTM17h20m56s29m45s13
814Cornejo JOSECHLHonda17h21m16s30m05s11
912Michael METGEFRAHonda17h29m30s38m19s10
1027Benjamin MELOTFRAKTM19h06m48s2h15m37s9
118David MCBRIDEGBRKTM19h08m23s2h17m12s8
1224Max HUNTGBRHusqvarna19h26m37s2h35m26s7
1317Richard BREWERNLDYamaha19h56m14s3h05m03s6
149David MABBSGBRKTM20h57m31s4h06m20s5
1525Paul SPIERINGS JR.NLDHusqvarna22h16m03s5h24m52s4
1622Benjamin YOUNGAUSKTM24h18m44s7h27m33s4
1726Martien JIMMINKNLDHusqvarna26h56m01s10h04m50s4
1823Marcel PIEKNLDHusqvarna44h19m08s27h27m57s4
1918James WESTGBRYamaha57h09m17s40h18m06s4
2010Maciej GIEMZAPOLKTM63h37m42s46h46m31s4