Quintanilla finished the stage in third place only 6 minutes 32 seconds behind leader Toby Price. Paolo Goncalves of Portugal was second. The stage took riders from Salta to Belén and confronted them with some of the most difficult navigational challenge so far in this year’s rally. The Husqvarna rider is currently also in fourth in the overall standings.
Speaking after the stage, Quintanilla commented: “This was the first day in the desert and with navigation. It was a difficult stage, but also a positive one. I felt good during the day so I think we made a good step. I finished third and that was the intention at the start of the day, so I think it was a really good day.”
Husqvarna-supported rider Jacopo Cerutti of Italy also delivered one of his strongest results so far in his debut Dakar Rally. He finished in 20th some 28 minutes 49 behind the leaders. He is currently 23rd in the rankings, a significant improvement from his position in the first half of the rally.
Organizers have indicated that the second half of this year’s race will be increasingly technically difficult, especially with the navigation, as they head towards the finish in Rosario on January 16th.
Tuesday is the shortest stage of the rally, with 436km of total distance and 285km of timed special. But it is also the first day of the second marathon stage and riders will have no contact with their teams overnight. More challenging navigation and terrain are definitely on the program.
Stage 8: Salta – Belén
Total distance 766km: timed special 393km
Stage Results (Provisional)
1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 4 hours, 33 minutes 14 seconds
2. Paolo Goncalves (POR), Honda + 5 minutes 17 seconds
3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna + 6.32
4. Stefan Svitko (SVK), KTM, + 8.02
5. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda + 8.06
20. Jacopo Cerutti (ITA), Husqvarna + 28.49
28. Ondrej Klymciw (CZE), Husqvarna, + 39.03
31. Robert Van Pelt (NED), Husqvarna, + 45.52
Overall Standings after Stage 8 (Provisional)
1. Price + 27 hours 28 minutes 56 seconds
2. Goncalves + 2 minute 05 seconds
3. Svitko + 14.144. Quintanilla + 21.26
4. Quintanilla +21.26
23. Cerutti + 1 hour 41.45