Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla has defended his Cross-Country Rally World Championship in 2017, wrapping it up with a sixth-place finish in the series’ final OiLibya Morocco Rally, which was enough to edge Honda’s Kevin Benavides out of title contention by just three points.
The Rally was won by Red Bull KTM’s Matthias Walkner. He finished ahead of the hard-charging Honda duo of Benavides and Ricky Brabec, who completed the podium. The successful title defence didn’t come easily for the Chilean rider, who copped a 20-minute penalty on the second day of the event that left him perilously close to losing the title to his Honda rival.
“I’m over the moon,” he said. “This year’s Morocco Rally has been a tough one and with all the incidents on day two I had to dig really deep to defend my championship.
“I did my best to remain focused until the end as my main goal was to be world champion again. Everything went well and I never lost my focus.”
Quintanilla went on to say the Rally was important for preparation for the next year’s Dakar Rally which kicks off early January.
All going well, Australia’s rally star Toby Price (Red Bull KTM) will be fully fit to challenge the top of the timesheets in
a bid to add to his historic Dakar Rally win in 2016.
By Kellie Buckely