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Dakar 2022: Wins Podiums and Top Eight Domination

Jan 142022

An 8,300km race across some of the harshest terrain on the planet, and a Monster Energy double podium. The 2022 Dakar is in the can.

It has been an incredible ride and drive for all of our athletes involved, not least US racer Austin Jones, who has scored his maiden Rally Dakar title - while competing in the SSV T4 category.

Jones had been challenging for the overall lead throughout the epic two-week event and managed to snatch the P1 from teammate Gerard Farrés on the final stage. Jones and Brazilian co-driver Gustavo Gugelmin won the event by just 2 minutes 37 seconds, after over 47 hours of racing, and two weeks in the Saudi desert.

A delighted Austin Jones said: “We made it! I don’t know how to describe it yet. This is what I really wanted and it happened. There are no words. I’m the third American who can boast such an achievement on the toughest rally in the world and the youngest American. This means a lot to me. Winning Dakar is everything. It’s everything that you work for. All the training, all the work you put in. The golden Touareg is the number one goal in rally racing. It’s been a hard battle and even if we have been leading several stages, we knew anything could happen and we had to remain focused. All the guys have been really fast."

 

“Everyone did really well. Gustavo (Gugelmin), my navigator, did a great job and the team gave me a great car and supported me every day. It doesn’t matter whether you win by a second or an hour. A win is a win. Having Can-Am, such a large manufacturer that builds the best SSVs in the world, and South Racing supporting and believing in me, it’s been a game-changer. To be here and to have them both have my back, I couldn’t have done it without them. Dakar is the ultimate test of off-road racing. Nothing else compares to it. Competing for 14 days, in Saudi Arabia’s diverse terrain, and to live out here, it’s so much harder than you think. Not only is it a test of driving, it’s a mental game. There’s a reason Dakar is considered the toughest race in the world.”

If that wasn't enough Monster Energy Honda Team rider Pablo Quintanilla won the final 2022 Dakar Rally stage to grab a second overall place in the race just three-and-a-half minutes shy of the event’s winner.

 

Quintanilla, who started the final morning in second place in the general standings, 6’52” behind Sam Sunderland, attempted to close the gap over the 150 kilometers of timed special involving some tricky, fast-paced navigation. Quintanilla earned the final stage victory of the 2022 Dakar; finishing 3’27” short of clinching the outright 2022 bike category title.

 

A stoked Pablo Quintanilla said: “Another podium finish. Another Dakar. The battle out there has been so hard throughout these 12 stages that I am really happy with this result. I gave my maximum every day and I have no regrets with the decisions I made. There is never a perfect race, and we gave it all. I knew that there was no strategy but to attack because Sam (Sunderland) and Matthias (Walkner) were pushing as well. Once again the key was navigation because a mistake could have changed the final result."

“All in all, it was a really tough race. We fought hard from day one. It was physically and mentally exhausting but we approached every day with the calm that comes from the experience. I’d like to thank the Monster Energy HRC team that has supported me at the best during these two weeks with their professionalism and passion. It was stressful for everyone, but they gave me a competitive machine to fight.”

 

Equalling his best overall finish at the Dakar, Adrien Van Beveren finished an impressive fourth overall. Leading the race on two separate occasions and placing no lower than fourth overall throughout the entire rally, the Frenchman was in awesome form throughout; delivering pin-point accuracy with his navigation day-after-day; in what was one of the stand-out performances of his career to date.

 Van Beveren was closely followed by Monster Energy Honda Team riders Joan Barreda, Ricky Brabec, and José Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Cornejo in fifth, sixth, and seventh.

 

Monster Energy Yamaha’s Andrew Short finished eighth, while Monster Energy Yamaha teammate Ross Branch was unfortunately forced to retire on stage seven after a heavy crash on stage six. Read about Ross Branch’s Dakar here!

 

Here’s what they had to say…

“In a way, it is a bit frustrating because I was very close to a podium finish, but honestly I’m really happy with my performance. I built this result day after day with a high pace, consistency, and determination. It was important for me to show that I have the potential to fight for the win. It has been hard to find the confidence in myself after the incidents and the injuries I have been through. Many people, even close to me (and I’m not speaking of my family), have doubted my skills so this Dakar is a boost for my confidence. I tackled the very last stage as it was the first day. Navigation was crucial and we gave our best. Now it’s time to rest and then think about the future.”

 

 

“We finished the Dakar, and I am very happy with the final stage especially, without any mistakes and marking some good pace. I am satisfied to have finished the Dakar like this, but not in the overall balance, because, although I recovered several positions this last week, the mistake early in the race conditioned the end. I think I should have been further ahead. This Dakar has been a rollercoaster of emotions. We had a tough start, a difficult first week, but then we could recover in the second week. We had many ups and downs. We clinched two-win stages, but we are not where we wanted to be. Racing is like that and we need to learn from the mistakes and keep progressing. Now it’s time to go back home, rest and return stronger next year.”

“Knowing that it was not the race we expected after the first stage, we kept pushing with the “never give up attitude” because anything can happen on the Dakar. Unfortunately, we suffered a time speed penalty because we were giving our best, but I’m really happy we finished the race, a result that you don’t take for granted on the Dakar. This is the third year in a row with a victory, a second place, and a 7th place. We have to be proud of that. We don’t need to hide that our race was spoiled by the first stage but we could recover many positions. Now we move forward and progress to return stronger. I’m really happy for Pablo. He did a great job and he deserves the podium finish.”

 

 

“It was hard as we started with a navigation mistake on day one, so we had to recover day after day. All in all, I’m happy to be at the finish line. Finishing was the main goal, so I can say the mission is unfinished. But we are healthy; something that cannot be taken for granted in an endurance race like the Dakar. I made some navigational mistakes, but all in all, I’m satisfied with the job I did. I gave my best and none has a perfect Dakar. At the moment I don’t have plans for the future. Let’s see.”

 

 

“It was tough! Tough all the way from day one, you know? This is the most prepared I’ve ever been for sure. I’ve trained so hard and worked so hard the whole year. Yamaha have put a lot of effort in, and I came to the Dakar feeling confident with really high hopes. The first day really threw a spanner in the works for everyone. The whole field lost a lot of time and turned the whole rally on its head from the beginning. I just worked hard to make up as many places as I could after that, and it was genuinely exciting. I had a really good couple of days before the crash, which makes for a mixture of emotions.”

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