Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team riders Pablo Quintanilla and Pela Renet are ready to take on the 39th running of the Dakar Rally – the world’s most iconic rally raid event, which kicks of in Asunción, Paraguay on January 2.
Together with experienced former racer turned rider consultant Ruben Faria, Quintanilla and Renet will take on what is expected to be one of the toughest Dakar Rallies in many years. Faced with close to two weeks of competition aboard their FR 450 machines, both riders will have to deal with almost one-week of racing at high altitude while tackling the varied and demanding South American terrain.
For Quintanilla this year’s Dakar will start with the Chilean being the recently crowned FIM Cross Countries World Champion. Third in the 2016 edition of the Dakar, in securing his hard earned world championship title he has shown that he will be one of the leading riders during this year’s Dakar. Fast, experienced and with his fitness and confidence at an all time high, Quintanilla is focused on a third consecutive podium result while also hopeful of improving on his 2016 third place result.
Ready to tackle his second Dakar, French rider Pela Renet will again be Quintanilla’s teammate. Switching to rally at the end of 2015 the former Enduro World Champion has faced a steep learning curve. Despite crashing heavily during Dakar 2016, Renet has remained focused on his goal of adapting to the many challenges rally racing presents and heads into Dakar 2017 determined to gain further experience and reach the finish.
The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team heads into Dakar 2017 with another important asset – former racer Ruben Faria. Now retired from full-time competition, Faria will offer invaluable tactical advice and support to the two Husqvarna riders. As a regular Dakar starter since 2006 the Portuguese rally specialist will be on hand to back Quintanilla and Renet throughout the 39th edition of the event.
Pablo Quintanilla: “In Dakar there are many factors that you can't control so making predictions before the race is never a good thing to do. I have prepared well, have no injuries, I’ve had a great season in the world championship and have a great bike and team supporting me. I have all that I need to do well. Because of my successful world championship season there is a little extra pressure on me to do well, but I don’t mind the pressure. This year’s event will be difficult, with many fast riders hoping to do well. I am sure that this year we will see what Marc Coma believes is a true rally. I feel confident in my navigational skills in the open deserts, and also on the mountain tracks, so I am looking forward to the challenge. It’s always hard to have an exact plan for Dakar, you have to let the race come to you. Of course my goals get harder to achieve each year, after finishing on the podium the next step is an obvious one for most riders. Dakar is a special race, an incredible experience, and together with my team we will do all we can to get the best result possible.”
Dakar Rally 2017, The world’s toughest off-road event gets underway on January 2, 2017 when 146 riders in the motorcycle category set out from Asunción to welcome Paraguay as the 29th country to be included in the Dakar program. The 12 stages, which take riders on to Bolivia and Argentina, will offer brutal new challenges. These include almost a week at high altitude – six stages over 9,850-feet in the early part of the competition and what organizers say will be very special new demands in navigational technique.
Pela Renet: “My goal this year is to finish Dakar. Everyone now knows that the 2017 Dakar will be very difficult – one of the most difficult in recent years. But I am looking forward to the challenge. Since last year’s event I have worked a lot on my navigation, in Spain, Portugal and Morocco. Navigation will be very important, also dealing with the riding at high altitude and the big differences in temperatures during the competition. The challenge that is ahead of all riders is going to be very special, very difficult. I have incredible support from my team and have so much more experience going into my second Dakar. I’m really looking forward to this challenge.”
Quintanilla and Renet will also encounter every possible weather condition from freezing temperatures to a blistering 120°F, and vastly different, and very challenging terrain – from dunes to plains and grasslands, river crossings, rocks and the daunting Andes mountains. The twelve stages cover nearly 5,600 miles, including more than 2500 miles of special timed stages. There will be one marathon stage where riders will fend for themselves with no mechanical or team support at the overnight bivouac. During the 12 stages there will be just one rest day, in La Paz, before the rally concludes in Buenos Aires on January 14.