Rockstar Energy Husqvarna riders wel placed in Dakar Stage 5

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Rockstar Energy Husqvarna factory riders Pablo Quintanilla and Ruben Faria on Thursday safely completed Stage Five of the Dakar Rally, the second half of the marathon stage. Riders in this 9,000 km-long contest also crossed the border from Argentina into Bolivia.

Quintanilla delivered a strong ride to finish sixth in the stage and is now ninth overall. Faria, who was third on Wednesday, finished eighth. He is now eleventh overall. Factory teammate Pela Renet withdrew from the rally after a crash in the first half of the marathon stage and will return home to France. Thankfully, medical scans and checks revealed he had suffered no broken bones.

The stage was a milestone in Dakar statistics as riders had to climb to an altitude of 4,600 meters near the end of Thursday’s 328 km timed special, the highest point ever in this tough offroad competition. The day’s ride, over a total of 642km also introduced riders to more difficult navigation, especially in the final part of the timed special.

Speaking after the marathon stage where riders were not allowed to work on their bikes for two days, Quintanilla said: “Today was tough with a very long liaison section in the morning and with the altitude. Later we were in the mountains and I felt good, but I just had some problems with the rear brake at 200km so I had to slow down a bit. But it was a positive day and I had no big problems in this marathon stage – none with the bike and no crashes.” Referring to his teammate Faria, he said: “I am earning from the experienced guy!”

Faria said the first part of the marathon yesterday was good. “It was a really fast track and I did very well and finished third. Today we woke up at 3.00 a.m. and we first had a big, tough liaison. I didn’t have the speed today; I didn’t have the feeling. I’m almost nine minutes behind the first guy, but that’s how it is. I’m happy to arrive here in Uyuni. The race is not finished and I hope I can be fast over the rest.”

Husqvarna-supported rider Jacopo Cerutti of Italy is also putting in some solid results in his first Dakar Rally. He finished 31st in the fifth stage and is now 27th in the general rankings.

Friday’s Stage 6 is a loop around Uyuni, but it is also the longest timed special of this year’s edition. There is a total distance of 723km, including 542km under the clock. Altitude may also create problems as the ride is between 3,500 and 4,200 meters and organizers have promised a constant change of pace and terrain.

There are two more stages before the rest day on Sunday.