The newly formed Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team has readied three riders and their mean machines for the 2016 Dakar Rally. Riding the Husqvarna FR 450 Rally machine in the factory team colours will be Dakar veterans Pablo Quintanilla of Chile and Portugal’s Ruben Faria, with Frenchman and Frenchman Pela Renet contesting his first edition.
Pablo Quintanilla:“I am very calm and happy with the Husqvarna factory bike because it’s reliable, very fast and very tough for this sport. This time we are not riding in Chile so there is no open desert, but the difficult navigation in Fiambalá, Belén and San Juan, plus the altitude and rainfall in Bolivia will make it difficult for everybody.”
Ruben Faria:“The Husky is amazing! The engineering team has done a fantastic job on the chassis and other details. This bike is the result of unbelievable teamwork and I am proud to be part of that. Training and riding with my teammates is also fantastic because we develop the bike together and each one of us gives important feedback to the team after riding in the same conditions.”
Pela Renet:“For the last 2-3 years I’ve been thinking about finishing off my racing career in rally raid. After my really good season in 2014 I began to discuss with Husqvarna if they had any plans to go into rally and now I’m here! My preparation was not the best one because of my injuries but I’ve worked a lot over the last weeks to be ready for January 2. The preparation with the other riders was very good. The atmosphere is great, the team is really professional and my bike is amazing. I’m simply in the best position to learn and to progress in rally raid.”
In addition to the three official factory riders, Husqvarna are also supporting young Italian talent Jacopo Cerutti, who won his place in the Dakar Rally after an excellent sixth place result in the 2015 Sardegna Rally Race, one of the official Dakar Challenge events. Cerutti, who also comes into rally raid from enduro sport, will ride under the banner of the HT Husqvarna Team. He has a modest goal to finish the rally and, as he says ‘not in the last place’.
The 2016 edition of the Dakar Rally begins with the prologue in Buenos Aires on January 2, 2016. Riders travel west through Argentina then follow the spine of the Andes mountains north into Bolivia. They then travel directly south crisscrossing the mountains until they reach San Juan in Argentina, where they turn east to eventually finish in Rosario. Over the thirteen stages they will travel in excess of 9,000 km and be confronted with very difficult conditions that will test their navigation skills, as well as their riding. They will also need absolute peak physical fitness and enormous mental strength. The one rest day is on January 10 in Salta. Because of anticipated disruptive conditions caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon, Chile and Peru were forced to withdraw from the program for this edition.
Program of the 2016 Dakar:
31/12 and 01/01: Administrative and technical checks