Joan Barreda & Honda CRF450 RALLY round-off 1st Dakar 15 week as leaders
The 2015 Rally Dakar finishes the first week of competition with the Hondas of Team HRC firmly entrenched in leading positions. Barreda and the CRF450 RALLY occupy top-spot.
Team HRC arrives at Iquique for the rest-day in cracking form with no less than three Honda CRF450 RALLY riders in the top six positions. Joan Barreda, victor in the second and fourth stages of this Rally Dakar 2015, has commanded from the front since day two. Likewise, Paulo Goncalves, third in the overall rankings, looks poised to strike, as the preparations for the final stretch of the great challenge get underway.
The two stage triumphs of Joan Barreda, bring his total Dakar tally to twelve, and team-mate Helder Rodrigues, who took the honours in stage six and leapt up the overall leaderboard, will be hungry to trim down the gap with his Honda buddies.
It’s also been a highly-successful week for Laia Sanz too, who picked up her best finish in stage four, with an 8th place, and now holds 14th in the general standings. Jeremias Israel, was a little unfortunate yesterday, collecting a hefty forty minute penalty for missing a waypoint, which sees the Chilean drop down to 16th.
Honda South America Rally Team, also remains on course to complete mission objectives, with four of their five riders still in the fray. Daniel Gouet and Javier Pizzolito are both showing their maturity and consistency as the race embarks on its decisive phase.
The following days will be key to how the race plays out. Tomorrow begins the first two-day marathon stage: Iquique-Uyuni-Iquique (January 11th and 12th), the second being held on the 14th and 15th on the Calama-Cachi-Termas de Rio Hondo route.
STAGE 7 – Sunday, 11th January
Iquique (CHI) – Uyuni (BOL)
Special stage:321 km
A high altitude affair
Numerous difficulties will mark the first part of the Bolivian marathon stage. The cars will tackle it first, followed by the motorcycles the next day. Right from the outset, the long Liaison will mean an early start, followed by a gradual climb to a height of more than 3,500m. Once on the high plateaux, the special stage will begin, with instructions to follow the roadbook with great care, in light of the large number of junctions on the route. One of the challenges of the day could be wear and tear on tyres. Once they have arrived in Uyuni, the competitors will only have completed half of the marathon stage.
Team HRC General Manager
We’ve made it through to the rest-day, and I’m really pleased for the way that it’s been going up until now. All the five riders are in the race, and are lying in the top sixteen positions, with Barreda in command, showing off his riding ability, great navigation skills, as well as keeping Marc Coma reined in. The hardest part is still to come with the two marathon stages. We’ve got to make sure that the whole team keeps concentrating, and need a great collaboration between Team HRC and Honda South America Rally Team, and also between the riders. Right now, the bikes are at their best and the team has worked really well together. We just have to stay focused right until the end.