Chile’s Quintanilla wins 6th Dakar stage, retakes moto leadership slot

Chile's Quintanilla wins 6th Dakar stage, retakes moto leadership slot 

French driver Sebastien Loeb (Peugeot) runs the sixth stage of the 2019 Dakar Rally, between Arequipa and San Juan de Marcona, Peru, 13 January 2019. EFE-EPA/Ernesto Arias

San Juan de Marcona, Peru, Jan 13 (efe-epa).- Chilean motorcycle rider Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) on Sunday won the sixth and longest – 838 km (520 mi.) – leg of the 2019 Dakar Rally and once again moved into the leadership position for the race 4m38s ahead of US rider Ricky Brabec (Honda), whom he knocked out of the leadership slot.

It was Quintanilla’s first stage win at this year’s rally in the Peruvian desert after coming quite close on the third day of the race, when finished second and moved into overall first place, only to be supplanted shortly thereafter due to mechanical difficulties.

Argentina’s Kevin Benavides (Honda) came in second on this leg between Arequipa and San Juan de Marcona, the race’s longest stage, 1m52s behind Quintanilla and now occupies fourth place eight minutes behind the Chilean.

Luciano Benavides (KTM), Kevin’s brother, is in eighth place, 15 minutes off the day’s best time, and Chile’s Nacho Cornejo (Honda) also finished among the top 10 for the day.

The big disaster of the day came with Briton’s San Sunderland (KTM), who had won the fifth stage and was the first rider to set off on Sunday’s leg, blazing the trail through the soft desert sand and thus losing more than 20 minutes, which knocked him out of second place.

Spanish Sherco rider Lorenzo Santolino was forced to abandon the race after taking a hard fall at Km 33 during the timed portion of the race.

In autos, France’s Sebastien Loeb unseated countryman Stephane Peterhansel (Mini) from second place in the general classification, logging the best time of the day despite being the first car to set out from Arequipa.

However, the French driver was only able to shave a little more than two minutes off the advantage enjoyed by Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, who once again adopted a conservative strategy and kept his position behind the nine-time world rally champion to ensure that he lost as little time as possible.

Peterhansel was the big loser of the day, dropping more than 20 minutes in the difficult Tanaka dunes.

Al-Attiyah now has a 37-minute lead on Loeb with four race stages left to run through Peru’s coastal desert zone.

Spain’s Joan “Nani” Roma (Mini) came in fifth in Sunday’s stage, 13m08s behind the winner, and is now in fourth place in the general rankings at 45m24s off the lead pace, while compatriot Carlos Sainz was able to complete the stage without any of the problems of past days, crossing the finish line third, 6m56s behind Loeb.