Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Ruben Faria joint fastest in Dakar prologue

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Rockstar Energy Husqvarna factory rider Ruben Faria on Saturday registered equal fastest time in the prologue of the 2016 Dakar Rally, the prelude to the beginning of the world’s toughest offroad event on Sunday.

Faria powered his FR 450 Rally bike through the short 11km timed special in just six minutes 27 seconds to share the fastest time with Spain’s Joan Barreda. Factory teammate Pablo Quintanilla of Chile came in 10 seconds behind in eighth place.

Ruben Faria: “It was an easy day. I feel good and confident and the team is working really well – the suspension and engine, everything. Overall it was an easy day and a good one.”

Pablo Quintanilla: “Today was very short but at least we have finally started the rally. The prologue was quite fast and had a very deep river, but I felt good. We have a very big road book for tomorrow’s stage and it’s going to be tough.”

The prologue, which followed the ceremonial start in Buenos Aires, is one of the new features of this year’s rally and determined the starting order for Sunday’s Stage One. While Faria and Quintanilla are well placed, it was a disappointing day for the team’s rookie, Pela Renet of France. He, like some other riders, got caught out at a river crossing early in the ride and lost more than three minutes.

Husqvarna-supported rider Jacopo Cerutti, who won the right to contest the Dakar after a very strong performance in last year’s Sardegna Rally Race, which is a Dakar Challenge event, crossed the line just 24 seconds off the winning pace.

Before the timed special, competitors rode another 171km in the direction of the city of Rosario where they will stay in the bivouac overnight before the start of the opening stage on Sunday.

They have a long day ahead of them on Sunday when the stage takes them from Rosario to Villa Carlos Paz over a total distance of 632km, including a timed special of 227km. Organizers report that the first part of the timed special will be fast before it moves into narrow and undulating tracks.