Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla 2016 Rally World Champion

First Rally World Championship Title for New Factory Team
Husqvarna rider, Pablo Quintanilla celebrates the championship win – a first for the new factory team.

The 2016 World Championship series was made up of five rounds and the team contested four – the Desert Challenge in the UAE and the Sealine rally in Qatar, the Atacama Rally in Chile and this week’s Morocco Rally.

Quintanilla was third and second in the opening two rounds. He then won at home in Chile and finished second this week in Morocco. He was also third in the Dakar Rally 2016, the premiere event of the season.

Pablo Quintanilla
Pablo Quintanilla

With the world title almost in his grasp, Quintanilla approached the Morocco Rally with tactical caution. He went into the event with an 11-point lead over second placed Sam Sunderland but by stage four on Thursday, the British rider had narrowed the gap and was still very much in the running.

Then on Friday, Quintanilla turned up the gas and finished second in the stage, just 2.21 minutes behind stage and overall winner Toby Price, to finish third overall in the rally, but more importantly for him and his team, to secure the world title.

Atacama Rally 2016 - Pablo Quintanilla
Atacama Rally 2016 – Pablo Quintanilla
Pablo Quintanilla, Husqvarna

“I’m really happy about the season and for the team. We put in a lot of effort and hard work during the year. I just want to thank the team for the amazing job they did at every race. For me this is a dream come true. It is something I have been dreaming about for many years, and with so much passion. Now I am the new world champion.”

Atacama Rally 2016 - Pela Renet
Atacama Rally 2016 – Pela Renet

It was also a very good week for Pela Renet, the factory team’s second rider. Renet, a proven enduro world champion, moved to rally sport at the beginning of the season and has been on a sharp learning curve ever since.

This week in Morocco he started slow and also experienced his first marathon stage on Tuesday where riders have no overnight team support. Gaining in confidence, particularly regarding the navigation, he then put in three very solid days of racing to wrap up his week at ninth overall in a very competitive field.

Pela Renet - Abu Dhabi Rally 2016
Pela Renet – Abu Dhabi Rally 2016
Pela Renet, Husqvarna

“I was feeling good at the beginning of the stage but then I had a little crash and I lost a bit of confidence. The stage was also very tricky with the navigation and it was not easy but I am really happy to be at the end. I also want to say big congratulations to my teammate Pablo for the world championship title. He put in a really good performance. I’m also very happy for the team and Husqvarna, because this result is incredible in their first year of rally.”

Looking forward to the coming Dakar Rally, Renet confirmed that he had started his physical training preparation one month ago and was looking forward to training with the team in the lead up to the season’s main event.

Toby Price
Toby Price

Australian Toby Price took the Stage Five win and third overall in the Championship, behind Quintanilla, and Sunderland in second.

Toby Price
Toby Price
Toby Price, KTM

“It was a very tough Rally and full of pitfalls. It wasn’t easy to stay in front. The second day, Paulo Gonçalves (Honda) was first and yesterday it was Sam Sunderland’s turn to take the lead. I got to the spot where Benavides crashed and stayed with him a while. It was the first time I found someone injured, and although he set off again, it was hard for me to get back into my race. Today, Sam got lost and it was my turn to win!”

Sam Sunderland
Sam Sunderland
Sam Sunderland, KTM

“I didn’t find the right way out of the oued with all the vegetation. But after my accident last year, I am happy to be on the podium and to have been able to race a complete World Championship season.”

The Morocco Rally is important preparation for the next Dakar Rally, which starts in Asunción, Paraguay, on January 2, 2017, then travels on to Bolivia and Argentina, and finishes in Buenos Aires on January 14.

Toby Price and Sam Sunderland - Abu Dhabi Rally 2016
Toby Price and Sam Sunderland – Abu Dhabi Rally 2016
FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship
Results Stage Five – Erg Chebbi
  1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 2:29.48 h
  2. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, +2.21 m
  3. Helder Rodrigues (POR) Yamaha, +2.25
  4. Matthias Walkner (AUT), KTM, +3:48
  5. Juan Pedrero (ESP), Sherco, +6.19
  6. Pela Renet (ESP), Husqvarna, +11.13
Overall after Stage Five
  1. Price, 13:06.35h
  2. Sunderland, +7.44
  3. Quintanilla, +17.02
  4. Rodrigues, +19.05
  5. Xavier De Soultrait (FRA), Yamaha, +33.04
  6. Renet, +49.06
FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship
  1. Quintanilla, 93 points
  2. Sunderland 86
  3. Price 82