The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Rally Team go to the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the first round of the 2017 FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship, well prepared to defend the brand’s 2016 world title. Chilean rider Pablo Quintanilla rides with the number one plate as he launches his bid to defend his title. Teammate Pela Renet is also out to deliver another impressive ride as he continues to consolidate his rally career.

Quintanilla secured the 2016 title in the series at the OiLibya Rally in Morocco last October, finishing with 96 points, and a seven-point lead over British rider Sam Sunderland. It was Quintanilla’s first world title and the first for his native Chile. Renet, who contested his second Dakar Rally in January with the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Team, reached the finish line for the first time in an excellent overall seventh. The French rider and has now joined the elite group of professional rally-raid riders capable of delivering podium finishes in these tests of endurance, skill, and speed. Renet came to the team as a world enduro champion and proved in his 2017 Dakar Rally ride that he has successfully made the transition to rally-raid competition.

Both riders go into the opening round with enthusiasm and confidence.

“After Dakar I needed to be strong and to prepare to come back even stronger than before, said Quintanilla. I have been training pretty hard in Chile to prepare for the season, which this year is very special for me because I am the world champion. I want to continue like this and I am ready and full of motivation to go racing.”

Pena Renet took a slightly different approach after the first rally event of 2017.

“Straight after Dakar, I took some time off but then I started training again at home and by riding together with some enduro riders, he said. We have also had some weeks training in Spain and Morocco, and we did testing with the new bike, so I feel good going into the season.”

The season’s opener begins with the traditional Super Special on Saturday, April 1st at the Yas Marina, a dash that decides the starting order for the opening stage on Sunday. Riders tackle five stages in the Liwa Desert of between 350 and 550 km, and the competition concludes on Thursday, April 6.

There is very little respite for the team who then immediately prepare for the second round of the world championship nearby Qatar, which is only one week separating the two rallies.

The 2017 FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship is made up of the two Gulf States rallies, two in South America in August – the Atacama Rally in Chile and the Desafio Ruta in Argentina, again one week apart, and the final round, the traditional OiLibya Rally in Morocco on October.

2017 FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship Calendar
April 1-6: Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, United Arab Emirates
April 17-22: Qatar Cross Country Rally
August 12-18: Atacama Rally, Chile
August 25-31: Desafio Ruta, Argentina
October 4-10: OiLibya Rally, Morocco