Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Quintanilla sixth in Dakar stage 6

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Rockstar Energy Husqvarna factory rider Pablo Quintanilla on Friday finished sixth in the stage six of the Dakar Rally after an exhausting 723km ride that included 542km of timed special. The Chilean rider is now fifth in the overall standings, seven minutes 52 seconds off the pace of stage winner Toby Price of Australia.

“It as a really tough stage,” Quintanilla confirmed at the finish line. “ It was a really long day on the bike and it was very difficult to focus all the time because of the altitude. But it was important to finish the stage well, and now its time to focus on the last day before the rest day on Sunday. As we know the second week is going to be the toughest of the Dakar, so lets see how we do in the next stage.”

Finishing right behind Quintanilla was Husqvarna rider Txomin Arana of Spain who finished only seven seconds behind Quintanilla. Arana, competing in his third Dakar Rally is now 11th in the overall standings.

It was also another competent ride in difficult conditions for Husqvarna-supported rider Jacopo Cerutti of Italy, riding in his debut Dakar Rally. He finished 32nd, 28 minutes 38 behind the stage leader and is currently 28th overall.

Unfortunately it was the end of the rally for Quintanilla’s factory teammate Ruben Faria of Portugal who crashed about half way through the timed special and had to retire. Faria sustained a fractured arm and some other minor injuries that were being treated in Uyuni. He is expected to be able to return to Europe on Sunday.

The stage was a long loop from and to Uyuni in Bolivia, however because of regional rain it was not possible for the competitors to cross the renowned Salar d’Uyuni, the world’s biggest saltpans as planned. Instead they traced their way along the western side of this famous landmark. Riders also had to deal with altitudes of between 3500m and 4000m, and with a constant change of pace and alternating sandy and rocky terrain.

On Saturday, the last stage before the one rest day, riders will leave Bolivia and re-enter Argentina. Their destination, after what will be another exhausting ride from Uyuni to Salta, will only be reached at the end of another 793km stage with a 353km timed special. Sunday’s rest day will also be in Salta.