The Dakar eluded him again Barreda in the penultimate stage, but it did not catch him by surprise. He was well aware that from his starting position he couldn’t do much. He wanted to have gone further back and that is what he tried the day before, but he thought that they would penalize him with six minutes and not two, and that disrupted his plans. In the end, he is happy with his performance after the broken clavicle, which was hit again in another fall, and so he told AS and the Spanish press in the Honda area in Bisha.
—Hard stage, the Dakar escapes him …
—Today they had prepared a good one for us… I would say that it is the hardest stage I have ever raced and I suppose many riders will say so. Also, opening from the beginning and in the conditions I’m in… There was a section that was survival, I wanted to advance and I couldn’t because the bike has stalled about ten times. I landed in front and hit pretty hard with my collarbone. He also suffered from gas consumption, it was really hard. In the end, yesterday did not go as well as we wanted and today was like this, the hardest stage of the Dakar. The important thing is that I am fine, in one piece, we will try to finish as well as possible.
“How was that fall?”
—I was thrown from the front, I hit directly with the clavicle and I was bent. I tried to lift the bike with one hand, but I couldn’t and Price and Luciano Benavides helped me with it and I want to thank them. These are things that are exciting when you live them, it is the beautiful part of the spirit of the Dakar, that the rivals also stop to help and encourage you to continue.
“Did they try to avoid that starting position?”
“Yes, totally, but it wasn’t easy.” The penalty was a bit confusing because I was within the neutralization period, I didn’t know if I was in the race or if I had to stop because I thought they were going to penalize me a lot, six minutes, and that with that I was well placed. In the end, it was not like that and the situation changed completely due to a strategic issue. I have given the maximum, but the difference that you eat when you are opening is so much that when you come from behind … Within the chaotic stage that was, we still maintained our composure.
“So the penalty was sought?”
“She wasn’t wanted, she went to the entrance of the neutralization.” It is true that we were all looking for a strategy. I saw that I had a big advantage, I started to calculate and, thinking that it would be six minutes, I saw it well and that is why I did not brake at the end. But they (the stewards) understood that the end of the stage was not a stage, the penalty did not count for me and I had to go ahead. It was a mistake or a lack of understanding. Even if we had played the good strategy, it would not have been easy either, because the rest also played theirs and I already had a slight disadvantage. Everyone came out from behind very quickly. We have done our best for many days now and I am satisfied with myself for having shown all the work despite the bad luck of the blow to the clavicle and how the Dakar was positioned from the beginning.
“What did you think yesterday when you saw that the strategy didn’t work?”
—At the beginning, the organization took out the penalty as if it were also for the stage and that suited us, but when they changed it it was sadder. There I already realized that the options had escaped and I said: ‘Now that’s it, let’s enjoy it as much as possible’. But all the tension at that point is gone.
“Have you come out with any pain relief on the stages?”
—We are treating it every day with the physios trying to work the inflammation.
“You want to stay at Honda?” Do they want me to continue?
“I’ve been here for ten years.” At the time I bet on this team above all else, when I was a young team with a motorcycle that was not built, and now for me it is the best. There are even plans to improve everything. Afterwards, the races are as they are.
“So you hope that trust will be restored to you?”
“They’ve been giving it back to me for many years, and I’ve been giving it back to them.” When a driver has been in a brand for so many years it is for something, it is not just for a result or a race. I’m very happy here, I don’t have anything to say either. This year I wanted to keep motivated and reach the maximum to the Dakar, and let’s see, I’m already 38 years old. The truth is that I have fun on the bike and I am very passionate about it, I did not want to think further.
“Do you see Quintanilla with options?” And you to qualify for the fourth?
—In races it is proven that something different happens every day. It is clear that it is one more day of processing, but anything can happen. You have to always be there and try not to fail.