Following Saturday’s only rest day, the second half of the 2019 Dakar Rally – the shortest on record at only 10 stages – begin Sunday with stage six.The stage took riders a total of 521 miles from Arequipa to San Juan de Marcona with 197 of those timed.
After a stage-long battle with his teammate Kevin Benavides, Rockstar Energy Husqvarana FR 450 Rally pilot Pablo Quintanilla claimed his first stage victory of the 41st Dakar Rally.Quintanilla finished 1:52 minutes ahead of Benavides, with Red Bull KTM Factory Team’s Matthais Walkner – the 2018 Dakar Rally winner – finishing 4:21 minutes back.With his victory, Quintanilla has retaken the overall lead with four stages remaining.“Everything went according to plan today and I’m happy with the stage win,” Pablo Quintanilla says. “The day wasn’t easy, the pace was quite fast, and navigation was difficult. We also had to race through strong headwinds. We had a good battle with Kevin Benavides and at one point I managed to pass him and retain the lead.“It’s good to be back on top in the overall. The race is still long and I want to stick to my plan. Tomorrow I will be the first rider to start the stage and this is surely a disadvantage. But my plan is to fight back for a good result on day eighth and then take advantage of the mass start on day nine. Lots of things can happen these next few days but I will do my best to keep my eyes focused on my goals.”America’s Ricky Brabec finished stage six in sixth, the Monster Energy Honda Team CRF450 Rally pilot posting on Instagram that someone had the guts to “mess with my suspension clicks over night in the marathon, thanks for the compression mate…”Regardless, Brabec is still second overall, 4:38 minutes behind Quintanilla as he looks to become the first American to ever win a Dakar Rally.As for former Supercross rider Andrew Short, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna pilot is 10th overall.
This week we ride two genre-departing motorcycles from the established American manufacturers. Jess McKinley gives us his thoughts on the all new Harley-Davidson Pan America Special, and Ron Lieback gives his on Indian’s latest version of the FTR 1200 S.