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Quintanilla (CHI), the current world #rally champion finished just three seconds behind leader Sam Sunderland setting up another tight competition between these two riders. Austrian Matthias Walkner was third in the stage. Quintanilla’s factory teammate Renet (FRA) finished fifth with a deficit of 6:36 minutes, an indication of his growing confidence in this field of top competition.
Quintanilla was also very pleased to make a confident return to #racing after being forced to withdraw injured from the 2017 Dakar #rally in Stage 10. The Chilean was in second overall and on his way to an almost certain podium place when he crashed and sustained a concussion, accompanied by dizzy spells and had to withdraw.
Quintanilla: “Today was a pretty hard stage and it was very hot, but for me it was a good stage. I started from the back and rode with Sam (Sunderland). It was difficult to catch the riders in front and stay on the correct lines in the dunes. But for me it was important to feel confident and fast and strong after my crash in the Dakar, so I’m pleased with my stage. I will try to keep on like this until the end of the race.”
Quintanilla finished a tight fourth in Saturday’s prologue at the Yas Marina. Riders were allowed to choose their starting positions for the first of the five stages according to the result of this short and fast dash. He and Sunderland opted to start together at the back of the field.
Renet’s result also confirmed he is now a leading contender in rally-raid and the French rider has made a relatively seamless transition from the elite sport of enduro. He finished overall seventh in the 2017 Dakar #rally in January on his second attempt and the first time he reached the finish of the gruelling 9.000 km event through South America.
Renet: “The stage today was good but it was really fast at the front. I tried to stay with them but I made a small mistake and crashed. After that, I lost contact with them and it wasn’t possible to catch them again. I’m happy because the navigation here is not so difficult. Also compared to last year, I had a big improvement because on the first day then I finished back at 27th or 28th.
Temperatures on Sunday were reported to be up to 47°C, which created exhausting conditions for the riders in this first of five rallies that make up the 2017 FIM Cross-Country #rally World Championship.
Sunday’s opening stage was one of five in the Abu Dhabi desert and took riders over 418.96 km, including a timed special of 276.59 km. On Monday the face another 371.23, including 278.90 of timed special. The #rally concludes on Thursday.
Stage 1 - Yas Marina Circuit Special: 276 kms
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR), KTM 3:29.22 h
3. Matthias Walker (AUT), + 1:04 m
4. Paolo Gonçalves (POR), Honda + 3:05
1. Sunderland 3:31.09 h
2. Quintanilla + 5.7 sec
3. Walker + 1:07 m
4. Gonçalves + 3:10
5. Renet + 6:39
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