Team Husqvarna pulled up to the startline of the 2019 Dakar Rally full of optimism and confidence. The two rider team comprised of Chilean rally star Pablo Quintanilla and the inexperienced American standout, Andrew Short.
After 10 stages of gruelling racing across some of Peru’s most ruthless desert terrain, Quintanilla and Short claimed 4th and 5th place respectively.
Although, if it wasn’t for a major crash 25 kms into the final special stage, Quintanilla could’ve been celebrating the overall victory.
Quintanilla had been the stand out rider for 9 of the 10 stages, eating up the Peruvian desert and taking a commanding lead over eventual winner Toby Price (KTM). But a heavy crash early in the final stage left Quintanilla with a painful foot injury that hindered his ability to ride with the aggression and speed it takes to win the Dakar.
Quintanilla was pleased to finish the world’s toughest desert race, but couldn’t help dwell on what could’ve been:
“Today I gave it all for the overall win, but things didn't go as planned. A few kilometres into the stage there was a broken dune and it was hard to see it. I jumped it and landed heavily on my foot. Luckily the medical crew arrived a few seconds later and they helped me get back on the bike. The rest of the day it was just a struggle to get to the finish. If you want to win the Dakar you do need to take some risks and that’s what I tried to do today. I was really trying my best today for myself and for the team. It was a tough day but still I’m happy I’ve finished this Dakar. I take my fourth-place result and focus on the future. Overall, I’m happy I gave 100% at this Dakar and took some risks while battling for the win. I will come back even stronger next year.”
But it wasn’t all disappointment for Team Husqvarna at this year’s Dakar. Andrew Short defied expectations to take an impressive top 5 finish. Short was delighted with his placing, crediting the team’s hard work as the key to his individual success:
“It’s been a long two weeks and I’m over the moon with my fifth place in the overall standings. I entered this Dakar with more experience and having spent a good amount of time working hard to be better. I am really happy it all worked out well for me this year. I knew what to expect and this made the whole race easier for me. I’m also happy because I managed to make some big improvements during the race and I think this also showed in my results. Making it to the end of this Dakar today has been the most rewarding part of the last two weeks. All the team worked really hard and this top five result is the best reward for all their hard work.”
2019 Dakar Rally – Provisional Overall Standings
1. Toby Price (KTM) 33:57:16
2. Matthias Walkner (KTM) 34:06:29
3. Sam Sunderland (KTM) 34:10:50
4. Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) 34:18:02
5. Andrew Short (Husqvarna) 34:41:26
6. Xavier de Soultrait (Yamaha) 34:51:16