Honda’s Joan Barreda, flat out to victory in Termas de Río Hondo
A fourth win for Joan Barreda brings the Honda CRF450 RALLY a seventh triumph in the Dakar 2015. The Spanish athlete, first away this morning after yesterday’s marathon stage win, was also first to cross the finish-line in the Circuit of Termas de Río Hondo.
Barreda, who has clearly put his troubles from the Uyuni stage behind him, once again showed a white-knuckle display of speed and agility, picking up his fourth stage win so far in the event.
Paulo Gonçalves battled hard to keep all options of a final victory wide open in spite of a fifteen-minute penalization for an engine change at the end of the first leg of the marathon stage. The Portuguese ace finished in second place, and will be looking to try and reduce the deficit with his rival Marc Coma over the two final days.
Hélder Rodrigues made it through in eighth to Termas de Río Hondo, in a problem-free fashion, as the second leg of the marathon stage closed in spite of exhaustion after a sleepless night helping team-mates Paulo, Joan and Jeremías, swap first Paulo’s engine and then Joan’s. Consequently, Jeremías Israel’s generosity in sacrificing his engine saw him unable to start the day’s stage. Spaniard Laia Sanz, one of the revelations of the competition, showed yet another speedy but prudent performance in the Salta region.
Javier Pizzolito was the best of the supporting Honda South America Rally Team, with a 16th place final finish, which moves the rider one notch up the overall scorecard to 20th. Jean Azevedo, who has shown great consistency throughout the entire event, wound up the stage in 25th place, and continues to hold 22nd overall.
STAGE 12 – Friday, 16th January
Termas de Río Hondo (ARG) – Rosario (ARG)
Liaison: 726 km
Special stage: 298 km
Time for an attack
The Dakar will spend the night near the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit, which regularly hosts the Argentine rounds of the GP motorbike and WTCC championships. But the Dakar’s competitors are set for a long cross-country journey, battling it out in this tension-packed penultimate day. A combative driver could still shake up the leaders’ positions even at this stage. And drivers who become too distracted could be caught by surprise by the surrounding vegetation!