The 2019 edition of the Dakar Rally got underway on Monday of this week and so far it’s been an exciting race through three stages.
Spaniard Joan Barreda began stage three as the clear race leader but is now on his way home after taking a wrong turn in the mountains. The Monster Energy Honda rider went over a ledge in the fog, got stuck in a ravine, and was forced to drop out of the race.
Barreda’s mistake opened the door for Pablo Quintanilla to take control of the race, and the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna rider did so after posting a mistake-free ride in the stage, which featured a mixture of dune riding and some mountain passes. The Chilean rider now holds an 11-minute lead at the top of the rally’s overall standings, with Kevin Benavides in second and Sam Sunderland just under a minute behind in third.
“The real Dakar has just started and I’m happy with where I’m at right now,” Quintanilla said. “Today we had a difficult stage. There was a lot of fog and in some parts you couldn’t see far ahead. If you tried to push, you ended up missing the right tracks. I took my time there and rode really carefully. At one crucial point in the mountains I made the right decision and gained some time to my rivals. Navigation today was really tricky. I’m having fun on my bike at the moment and I want to keep that same momentum going for the stages to come.”
Americans Ricky Brabec and Andrew Short hold top 10 positions after stage three, with Brabec seventh and Short 10th.
2019 Dakar Rally Overall Standings After Three Stages
|3||Sam Sunderland||KTM ||
|4||Adrien Van Beveren||Yamaha|
|6||Xavier de Soultrait||Yamaha|