The 2021 Andalucia Rally is a wrap, with Honda’s factory riders taking two podium spots.
Joan Barreda was the overall winner of the four-stage event, and no doubt Honda was fairly chuffed to see that success. After years of binning Big Red’s racebikes in spectacular fashion, there were questions about the 37-year-old rider’s future on the team. Not only is Barreda always a constant threat to his own motorcycle’s wellbeing, he’s also getting older. Rally raid racing often favours older, cagier riders, but with new stars in their 20s coming onto the scene, how long would Barreda remain competitive?
For now, it seems Barreda still has The Stuff. And if he doesn’t, it seems Pablo Quintanilla can get the job done for Honda.
Honda just signed Pablo Quintanilla to a factory deal after the Chilean rider parted ways with the Husqvarna squad. If this was MotoGP, we’d be subjected to months of “Oh, how will he ever adapt to the new machine, blah blah blah blah” by roadracing’s media machine.
As this is the get-it-done world of rally raid racing, we instead see that Quintanilla bagged a third-overall finish at Andalucia over the weekend, with the ink barely dried on his contract. He actually won Stage 4.
“It was a very hard week, super intense, but very important to be able to get to know the whole team, find some good sensations and get to know the way that the team works. I felt comfortable with the team, on the bike, and I think I have gradually progressed, finishing with a very good stage win,” said Quintanilla.
The Andalucia Rally didn’t have Yamaha or KTM’s top riders in attendance, so Honda’s riders might not see the same success if facing those crews. However, some of Hero and Sherco’s fastest riders were there, with Lorenzo Santolino earning second overall for Sherco.