Husqvarna rider Pablo Quintanilla is back in the lead of the Dakar Rally after edging Kevin Benavides in Stage 6 from Arequipa to San Juan de Marcona.
As little as 11 seconds separated the two until Quintanilla (Chilean) started to take control late in the stage and ultimately won the day by 1:52s.
Ricky Brabec made a strong start to the stage but ended up sixth-fastest and dropped to second in the general classification, 4:38s behind Quintanilla.
“It was a hard stage,” said Quintanilla.
“I attacked from the beginning, caught Kevin and overtook him.
“At km 290, I had a problem with the road book and was unable to read it, so I had to follow Kevin.
“We were near the finish when I realised I was running out of fuel so it was a blessing in disguise to have to ride behind because, if I’d kept on attacking at the same pace, I would’ve run out of petrol.
“In the end, it was a tough and stressful day, but it’s a fantastic finish.”
Toby Price is the lead KTM rider in third overall, although the Australian slipped to 5:17s from the lead of the rally after being fourth-fastest to San Juan de Marcona.
Benavides (Honda, Argentinean) is just over eight minutes behind Quintanilla overall and Adrien van Beveren (Yamaha, French) the last rider within 10 minutes.
Van Beveren was credited with time back after stopping to attend to Lorenzo Santolino (Sherco, Spanish), who crashed.
Last year’s champion Matthias Walkner is sixth, after which the leaderboard starts to split with the Austrian’s KTM team-mate Sam Sunderland (British) now over 20 minutes from the lead.
Stage 7 is a 323km loop around San Juan de Marcona, plus 64km of liaison.
General classification: Bikes
|5||Adrien VAN BEVEREN||FRA||Yamaha||+00:09:32|
|9||Xavier DE SOULTRAIT||FRA||Yamaha||+00:38:04|