Pablo Quintanilla Leads 2019 Dakar Rally After Stage 3

Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing rider up front

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.

Joan Barreda led heading into stage 3 of this year’s race, however the Monster Energy Honda rider had to make a premature exit from the race. The Spaniard came across a low-visibility foggy and rocky area and lost control of his bike, which went into a slide down a ravine. This proved to be impossible to escape from and Barreda’s race ended at kilometer 143.Courtesy of Monster Energy Honda

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.

Kevin Benavides celebrated his 30th birthday by moving into second place in the provisional standings after stage 3. The Monster Energy Honda rider reflected on the long day: “I took advantage of having a good starting position to attack. I felt comfortable with the bike, I made some navigational mistakes, but in the end it was a good day. I’m happy to climb some positions in the general and I’m gaining confidence every stage. It is not bad to move up to the second position of the general on my birthday.”Courtesy of Monster Energy Honda

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.”

Ricky Brabec suffered a navigational error in the third stage and dropped to seventh. “The stage was tough,” Brabec said. “There was a lot of sand dunes and a lot of navigation. I ended up opening a lot of the stage. There was a lot of fog there. Joan went down a ravine or the wrong side of the mountain or something. I really had to go slow there. At kilometer 178, there was a really difficult waypoint that was not where it was shown in the road book. I spent 15 minutes looking around for the waypoint and rode around for 30 kilometers. It was a bad day. We’ll have to make it up. But for me, in my mind, it’s going to be tough.”Courtesy of Monster Energy Honda

Americans Ricky Brabec and Andrew Short hold top 10 positions after stage three, with Brabec seventh and Short 10th.

Andrew Short got lost during the third stage but maintains 10th overall. “It was a tough day for me but I’m still in the race and that’s what matters the most,” Short said. “I had two crashes in the opening part of the stage and that cost me some time. Conditions were tough. It was foggy and you could hardly see in front of your fender. I was lucky to escape those crashes unharmed and I went on to finish the stage. Today there were many direction changes and navigation was tricky. Together with most of the first riders, we got lost searching for a tricky waypoint, and that cost us all some more time.”Courtesy of Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing
Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Toby Price sits fifth overall after three stages.Courtesy of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Sam Sunderland, fifth for stage three and third overall, struggled with the fog. “Definitely, it was difficult with the fog,” Sunderland said. “For me, the road book was more or less good, but the problem was on the plateau. With the fog, you couldn’t see. This was the issue, so you really couldn’t see 2 or 3 meters in front of you. Finally, I stopped and took my goggles off, and I was able to see a bit better. [It was] a lot of chaos. After that, everyone was in a group and was going in front. But, yeah, I’m sure we have many more days to come.”Courtesy of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
After dropping valuable navigation points, last year’s Dakar champ, Matthias Walkner, clawed his way back to 15th for the third stage and now sits in eighth overall.Courtesy of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Price exits a river bed during stage three.Courtesy of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing
Despite getting lost, Laia Sanz is the top female and 20th overall. “It was a pity to get lost before the refuelling because that cost some time,” Sanz said. “Despite that, I’m happy and things are getting better for me now.”Red Bull Content Pool
Eleventh for the stage and 11th overall, Paulo Goncalves talks about stage 3: “It was a long stage with more than 300 kilometers where the cars started out ahead of the bikes. There was a lot of dust, but even so I was able to overtake several cars. In the end I finished without problems with a calm pace so as to avoid any mistakes. One more day and I’m very pleased.”Monster Energy Honda

2019 Dakar Rally Overall Standings After Three Stages

Position Rider Brand
1 Pablo Quintanilla Husqvarna
2 Kevin Benavides Honda
3 Sam Sunderland KTM |  
4 Adrien Van Beveren Yamaha
5 Toby Price KTM
6 Xavier de Soultrait Yamaha
7 Ricky Brabec Honda
8 Matthias Walkner KTM
9 Paulo Goncalves Honda
10 Andrew Short Husqvarna