“The last three years have been the best of my career” – ITW Paulo Goncalves

The greatest achievements of Paulo Goncalves’ rally riding career have come since signing for Team HRC several years ago. These successes include clinching the 2013 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship and taking runner-up position in the most recent edition of the Dakar Rally.

Historically, Portugal has a habit of producing great adventurers. Names which include New World discoverers, conquistadors… and rally-raiders! Portugal, a land steeped in rally tradition, hosted the start of the last two African editions of the Dakar and has also produced one of the great contemporary specialists; Team HRC’s Paulo Goncalves. In Esposende, in his hometown, the Honda star flanked by wife Sofía and children Erica and Ruben, providing additional motivational support, will be in attendance as the Sealine Qatar Cross-Country Rally – the second rally of the 2015 world championship – gets underway this weekend.

After the second place in the Dakar 2015, you were back in action in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. What sort of form is Paulo Goncalves in?
I’m here two months after the end of the Dakar where I picked up second place and I’ve got a bit of rest. I’ve restarted work and am looking forward to fighting once again for the world championship after a couple of problems in the last race’s penultimate stage left us without the chance of winning.

Dakar 2016 details are to be announced tomorrow, but Chile won’t be included. That’s a great pity.
Yeah, that’s the way it is. Chile has been a really important part of the Dakar. Atacama has always been synonymous with the toughness and the surprises in the way the race plays out. The heart of the South American rally is largely there. I don’t know what the organisation will do to make up for the absence, but with the experience that they have, I’m sure they will be looking for a solution. It’s a shame Chile won’t be included, but the Dakar 2016 will continue to be a tough, hard Dakar.

The 2014 Dakar was a terrible one for you, but you made amends but finishing on the podium in 2015 with a great chance of actually winning the rally, for both you and the team.

It’s true that 2014 didn’t work out right at all. Two months earlier I had been enjoying the world championship title, then in stage five of the Dakar I was out of the race. I had great hopes but everything went down the pan. It was a really hard moment for me, but I kept my head up and made up my mind to support my team-mates. The Dakar finished, then I spent the rest of the season fighting for the world championship until the final race. In the end, I wasn’t able to hang on to the title, but had to accept second place.
We went to the Dakar 2015 with the whole team determined to be in the running for an overall win. We knew that the team was strong and well-prepared. Joan was ahead with a good margin and I was battling for the podium. Unfortunately the Uyuni Salt-flats left Joan out of the race and I lost time that day too, but was more fortunate than the other team-mates and was able to stay in the fight for the victory. After a great battle I finished runner-up. It was a great way to put the accident of the previous year behind me and a fine motivation for the team that so wants to win. The path is paved and the moment for a win for us will arrive.

In the Dakar your team-mates helped you to overcome some complicated moments.
Yes. I had some troubles in the second marathon stage that I wouldn’t have been able to overcome without the help of my team-mates. That is the strength of our team: we are well-structured and the team functioned in the best way. Jere made a great sacrifice so that we could keep battling for the podium; Joan, Hélder, Jere and I worked until it was time to start and the team was rewarded with a second place finish. This is one of the great values that the team has; that it works really well together. All the team for Honda and Honda for the victory!

To win stages and have a good team. 100% Honda philosophy.
The Honda philosophy, ever since I’ve been racing, has been to win races. The work that we undertake in all the competitions that we enter, is done to win: stages, races… and if we don’t, we have to think that we are competing with strong rivals who are also well-prepared. But Honda always starts out with clear chances of winning. The machines, the team, the riders… the whole outfit sets out to win. I think that there hasn’t been a single rally since Honda came back that we haven’t won at least one stage in. We still haven’t achieved the ultimate goal yet, which is to win the Dakar, but if we carry on like this, it will come.

Some of the characteristics that define you as a rider are your stamina and your sacrifice. As much in your preparation as in your family life, which is very important for you.
The riders, at this level, are professionals who know how to do the job. Luckily, we have a job that gives us great pleasure and that motivates us on a daily basis. We’ve been chosen to take a place, but it’s got to be won.
You’re right. My family is very important and it brings me a lot of stability and makes me happy. It’s not easy when you are away for two or three weeks at a time and you have a six-year-old and a four-year-old, but it happens to other people too. You have to find a way not to let the strength or the concentration wane.

Are your kids very demanding? Do they always want dad to come home with the trophy?
What they want is that dad arrives back safe and sound. That’s the most important prize for them. We do a high-risk sport and the external factors that affect the race have always to be considered.
But they do always ask if I have won. But I have to let them know that dad is in the running with a lot of other very well-prepared riders with the same set of objectives. When you don’t win, you have to know how to respect and value the one who does. We shouldn’t make kids believe that it’s all about winning or losing. They should learn to respect and give it their best. Then the win will come. And if not, it’ll come next time, but you have to be satisfied with the job done.


With values like those, pretty soon they’ll be overtaking their father!
At the moment they are still too small to race. I’ve no idea if they will ever actually want to race! I’m not pressuring them into it. If they ask, then I’ll try and help them to do it well.

Patience is another of your virtues.
After more then twenty years you realize that things don’t always work out the first time around and you have to wait for the right moment. One has to value those around you at all times, especially when things are not going well. Our competition is like a marathon: the race isn’t won in the first minute or in the first kilometre, but is a continual battle.

If we take a look back, after a great career in motocross, you moved on to rally, a speciality where you’ve achieved many successes.
I ran my first Dakar ten years ago, but I wasn’t competing in rally, just in the Dakar. I came from cross and thought that the Dakar was won from the first kilometre. Obviously the results didn’t come because I fell a lot and I didn’t have a clue about navigation.

About four years ago, the Speedbrain team gave me the chance to leave MX and enter the world of rally. It was a great change and over the last few years I’d been in the running for the world championship and I managed to win it. And now with the latest result in this Dakar, we’ve got a team that allows us to work with the best equipment and I’m pleased to have got such a result. The last three years have been the best of my race career and are getting better and better.

After so many years racing, this is the greatest moment of your career; with the best weapon and the best team-mates… where you’ve ceased to be an outsider and have become a contender for victory in any race that you compete in.
At 36 years of age, I’ve got the best bike, the greatest team and over the last two years, the best results of my life; a world championship title and a second place in the Dakar. This is a motivation. In a certain way, 36 is getting on a bit. Maybe I’m maturing like a bottle of Port…. At 20, 25 or 30 I was never able to get results like that. But now I’m raising the level and improving the performance, but this is also due to having a great team behind me.

The next big test is the Sealine Qatar. The race is very different from the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, without as many dunes, but with very tricky navigation.
With a lot of stony track and a lot of navigation, finishing the stages in the dunes, almost all together. There’s about 20% sand and 80% navigation. The HRC objective is to continue to develop the bike, as our chances of taking the world championship title are reduced after the results in Abu Dhabi. That’s why there will be less pressure. We’ll go into it much more relaxed and we can test out the navigation and the bike.

What’s your opinion about the new rule of being able to choose the starting position in the following stage?
The rule doesn’t seem fair to me. In Abu Dhabi it worked to my advantage, but it still doesn’t seem right. I hope that it gets changed, because it’s not the correct method. A race should be won by racing. If the race forces you to stop before the finish-line to have a chance to win the race, it’s no good. If you can choose between the first three starts for the following day, then maybe it would be fair. I suppose that the rule will get modified soon.

Text/Photos: PR Honda Racing Corporation

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Marc Marquez takes another victory in Austin

Repsol Honda Team rider wins GP of the Americas for the third time and opens victory account for the year. Marc Marquez took a third consecutive victory at the Circuit of The Americas, Texas, on Sunday.

It was the track where, two years ago, he claimed the first of his 20 victories in the premier class, and is one of his favourite circuits. In 2015, the Repsol Honda Team rider gave his rivals no chance of challenging him, almost right from the beginning of the race.

Although Andrea Dovizioso and his Ducati took the initiative at the start of the race, after a few laps Marquez took over at the front. Within a couple of laps he had established a gap that was enough to earn his first victory of the season, riding alone with a lead of more than 2 seconds at the chequered flag. With this win, Marquez occupies third in the overall standings with 36 points –five points behind current leader Valentino Rossi.

Marc has won on all six occasions in the MotoGP class in the USA

After this intense weekend, the World Championship moves south for next weekend’s Argentinian Grand Prix.

Marc Marquez: “I am very happy with this victory! After yesterday, things looked positive for us, but the only doubt was about the weather. In the end, it turned out stranger than it had seemed. When I saw that it was going to be a dry race, I started out very focused –because I knew it was important to try to win today. However, right from the first lap I saw that the track was not like it had been before the rain of last night. There was less grip and it was harder to ride comfortably. I decided to keep calm in the early laps to try to understand the situation well, and when I started to find a feeling similar to practice, I decided to push the pace a bit. That was when I was able to open up a gap.”

Results MotoGP – GP of The Americas
1 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda 43:47.150

2 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati +2.354
3 Valentino Rossi Yamaha +3.120
4 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha +6.682
5 Andrea Iannone Ducati +7.584

Championship Standings
1 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 41 points
2 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 40 points
3 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda 36 points
4 Andrea Iannone Ducati 27 points
5 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 26 points

Text/Photos: Repsol Media Service

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First World Championship podium for Fabio Quartararo

Fabio Quartararo took a well deserved second place at the Grand Prix of the Americas on Sunday. The 15 year-old Frenchman kept up with the lead group for the entirety of the race, up against the more experienced likes of Kent, Vazquez, Bastianini, Oliveira and Bagnaia.

Kent took advantage of his superior pace to escape from the group, whilst behind a half-dozen riders battled for the remaining podium spots. On the final two laps, Fabio Quartararo‘s tactics paid off and he earned his first World Championship podium –in only his second Grand Prix.

Round 3 of the 2015 Moto3 World Championship season takes place next weekend in Argentina.

Fabio Quartararo:“I’m very happy. It has been a difficult weekend, because we started out riding in wet conditions and it was only yesterday that we were able to look for a good dry setup. The race was tough, because there were some damp patches on the track. I made a good start and on the opening laps another rider clipped me, but I was able to stay upright and gradually catch Masbou. I am really happy and want to thank my team and my family.”

Results Moto3  -  GP of The Americas
1    Danny Kent         Honda         41:32.287
2    Fabio Quartararo         Honda         +8.532
3    Efren Vazquez         Honda         +8.652
4    Enea Bastianini         Honda         +8.811
5    Brad Binder         KTM         +9.556

Championship Standings
1 Danny Kent Honda 41 points
2 Enea Bastianini Honda 33 points
3 Fabio Quartararo Honda 29 points
4 Efrén Vázquez Honda 29 points
5 Alexis Masbou Honda 25 points

Text/Photos: Repsol Media Service

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Sofuoglu takes first 2015 win

Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) carried on his continual improvement this year to secure his first WSS win for almost a year and in doing so give his team their first victory at this level of racing.

The action was tough and intense at the 5.077km Motorland Aragon circuit in Spain, with Jules Cluzel joining front row qualifiers Kenan Sofuoglu and Jacobsen in a fight for the podium positions, ahead of the chasing riders.

Cluzel was to stop with a technical issue, which allowed Sofuoglu to make the decisive break on Jacobsen, running out the winner by 3.224 seconds. Jacobsen leaves with the new lap record, 1’54.605, set on lap two of the 16-lap contest.

In the championship itself Sofuoglu leads with 55 points, Jacobsen has 42, and Schmitter sits in 10th place with 16 points.

The fourth round will take place at Assen in the Netherlands, on 19th April, just one week from today.

Kenan Sofuoglu: “This is the place I want to be. I have been so tired of being down in the championship positions, now we are leading and this race win is what we needed. I told myself I had to go for the win in Aragon and we did it. It is almost one year since I was in first pace but I have to say a big thanks to my team. They deserve it – more than me – because they have done a very good job. I am so happy to have brought it home at the front for them.”

Aragón Round 12/Apr – Race – 1
1. K. Sofuoglu

2. P. Jacobsen
3. K. Smith

Text/Photo: PR Kawasaki Motors Europe

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Great stage for Paulo Goncalves

Portuguese rider Paulo Goncalves grabbed the third stage victory in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, climbing up one place into second spot in the general rankings. Noteworthy specials too from Barreda – home in fourth.

The Honda CRF450 RALLY was back in a starring role in the dunes of the Liwa Desert where the third of a five-stage Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge played out. After Joan Barreda’s win yesterday, today it was team-mate Paulo Goncalves‘ turn to stamp his authority on a 400 kilometre stage, which included a 272.8 km timed special.

Joan Barreda took advantage of a new rule that allows the first three finishers to choose their starting positions among the first six starters. The Spanish rider set out from sixth place, put pedal to metal and was soon forging ahead of the pack, opening the way for a long stretch of the special stage. The adversaries did finally catch up and Barreda had to content himself with a fourth final place.

Paulo Gonçalves, on the other hand, took full advantage of the day, pushing hard from the start, before going on to take his first triumph so far in the 2015 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. The win permits him to move up one spot on the overall leaderboard. The Portuguese supremo now lies in second in the general some five minutes off the leader.

Paulo Goncalves:“Today was a really good special. I had a great starting position, I won the stage and I’m in second place in the general standings. Tomorrow will be more difficult but there are still two days ahead. I’m pleased because I’m still in the running for the victory. The bike is working perfectly in the hardest conditions of the year so far. We will keep pushing.”

Results Stage 3
Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap

1 GONCALVES Paulo POR Team HRC 3:38’49
2 COMA Marc SPA KTM Red Bull Rally Factory + 0’29
3 QUINTANILLA Pablo CHI KTM Warsaw Rally Team + 3’04
4 BARREDA Joan SPA Team HRC + 6’16
5 SUNDERLAND Sam GBR KTM Red Bull Rally Factory + 10’30

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap

1 COMA Marc SPA KTM Red Bull Rally Factory 11:04’41
2 GONCALVES Paulo POR Team HRC + 5’04
3 SUNDERLAND Sam GBR KTM Red Bull Rally Factory + 6’31
4 QUINTANILLA Pablo CHI KTM Warsaw Rally Team + 18’21
5 FARIA Ruben POR KTM Red Bull Rally Factory + 23’49

Text/Photo: PR Honda Racing Corperation

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First career GP-podium for Seewer in Argentina

The Grand Prix of Argentina throbbed and heaved with 30,000 spectators excitedly packed into the confines of the new racing circuit near Villa La Angostura and Rockstar Energy Suzuki Europe’s Jeremy Seewer scored a memorable third position overall in the MX2 class for what was the third round of 18 in the 2015 FIM Motocross World Championship.

In just his second GP season, and first as a full-time professional, Jeremy Seewer took the RM-Z250 to fifth position in both today’s motos to walk the final step of the podium and spray GP champagne for the first time.

Dark, sandy volcanic earth provided a difficult test at the freshly-built track. While the layout was quick and jumpy, the ground was a mix of shifting bumps and a solid base that meant traction varied. The course was hard to judge through the various sections but the facility was undoubtedly world championship-class and fans lined the fences and packed into the enclosures that flanked the corners for the best view.

Seewer was on the pace of the top-five in MX2 from Saturday and ran to a solid sixth position in the qualification heat. Adapting to the irregular ground but enjoying a course that provided line choice and passing opportunities, the Swiss chased Julien Lieber for most of the first moto on Sunday and equalled his best GP finish with fifth place by the time of the chequered flag. In the second race he was set for a top-four result after trailing eventual winner Dylan Ferrandis for many laps but just could not withhold the challenge from Tim Gajser in the final two circulations and again ranked fifth. The points’ tally of 32 from both sprints was enough for Seewer and the team to start celebrating. After his disappointment with illness and heat exhaustion in Thailand three weeks ago this was a positive re-entry to the upper section of the standings for ‘#91’.

Jeremy Seewer:“This is not such a big surprise to me because I have worked my whole life to be at the top of this sport. I knew at the beginning of the season that my speed is good, but I just had some bad luck in Thailand. I put that event ‘into the past’ and focused on my practice…and now I am on the podium. It is an amazing feeling to be up here for the first time. I did two solid races and two fifth positions are not normally enough for the podium, but on tracks like this it is important to be consistent and not make mistakes because a few guys had some big crashes here today.”

Text/Photo: PR Suzuki Racing

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Difficult season opener for Marc Marquez

It wasn’t the start that Marc Marquez would has liked for his 2015 MotoGP Championship campaign.

Marc starting from third, had a problematic first corner, with Marc emerging as the biggest victim. As the MotoGP riders jostled for position, Marc made a small mistake, running wide in turn one and rejoined the track in last place.

He began to make up positions with Marc up to eleventh by lap three. The Repsol rider pushed to chase race leaders Lorenzo, Dovizioso, Iannone and Rossi and passed Petrucci, Crutchlow, Smith and Hernandez and was up to sixth by lap eight.

Marc began to chase down the leading four riders but the gap of 3.8s was too great. Nevertheless, Marquez still managed to break a record with the fastest top speed recorded in the premier class of 350.5km/h, beating the previous record held by Iannone of 349.6km/h.

This is the first time since winning the German GP in 2013 that Marc has not lead the MotoGP Championship standings. He now will be looking to bounce back from this disappointing start and challenge for victory at the Red Bull Austin GP in two weeks time.

Marc Marquez: “We should be happy because we have salvaged eleven important points, when we could easily have left here with none. It was a tough race, in which I made a mistake at the first corner and dropped back to last place. This meant that I had to make a comeback, pushing hard all through the race, but in the end I saw that I could not catch the group at the front. The positive that I’ll take from today is that we rode at a similar pace to the lead group. In Austin we will continue to work hard, with an even stronger desire to do well.”

Results Session
Pos. Rider Num Nation Points Team Time/Gap
1 ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA 25 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 42’35.717
2 DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA 20 Ducati Team +0.174
3 IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA 16 Ducati Team +2.250
4 LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA 13 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP +2.707
5 MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA 11 Repsol Honda Team +7.036
8 SMITH Bradley 38 GBR 8 Monster Yamaha Tech 3 +12.914
18 LAVERTY Eugene 50 IRE 0 Aspar MotoGP Team +46.570

Rider Standings
Pos. Rider Num Nation Points Team

1 ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA 25 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
2 DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA 20 Ducati Team
3 IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA 16 Ducati Team
4 LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA 13 Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
5 MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA 11 Repsol Honda Team
8 SMITH Bradley 38 GBR 8 Monster Yamaha Tech 3

Text/Photo: PR Honda Racing Corperation

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Moto2-Podium finish for Tom Luethi in Qatar

It was the reward for a selfless work: A podium finish in his first Moto2-race of the season for Tom Luethi.

After a spectacular race – with Sam Lowes and Tito Rabat two favorites crashed, the third (Johann Zarco) fell back with technical problems – Tom Lüthi suddenly found himself in third place again with three laps to go, and the experienced Swiss could fend off all attacks from the Spaniard Alex Rins up to the finish line.

Moto2 Race Classification 2015
Pos. Points Num. Rider Nation Team Bike Km/h Time/Gap
1 25 94 Jonas FOLGER GER AGR Team Kalex 160.1 40’18.532
2 20 19 Xavier SIMEON BEL Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex 159.8 +5.051
3 16 12 Thomas LUTHI SWI Derendinger Racing Interwetten Kalex 159.3 +12.123
4 13 40 Alex RINS SPA Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex 159.3 +12.202
5 11 21 Franco MORBIDELLI ITA Italtrans Racing Team Kalex 159.2 +14.385

Moto2 World Standing 2015
Pos. Rider Bike Nation Points

1 Jonas FOLGER Kalex GER 25
2 Xavier SIMEON Kalex BEL 20
3 Thomas LUTHI Kalex SWI 16
4 Alex RINS Kalex SPA 13
5 Franco MORBIDELLI Kalex ITA 11

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2015 season starts under the lights of Qatar

Reigning MotoGP Marc Marquez aspire to the title in the premier class. Fabio Quartararo begins first full Moto3 campaigns in Qatar.

The Losail International Circuit in Qatar once again hosts the opening round of the MotoGP World Championship this weekend. Defending champion Marc Marquez will again be staking his claim for the title in MotoGP.

After the good feeling obtained during preseason, Marc Marquez arrive in Qatar with the aim of transferring all the development work from the winter into results on track.

In the lower cylinder class, the champion of the FIM CEV Repsol, Fabio Quartararo, makes his World Championship debut aged 15 years, 11 months and 6 days. The youngest rider in the series will try to maintain the level exhibited during preseason at the first of many circuits on the calendar where he has never ridden before.

In Moto3, Fabio Quartararo debut in the World Championship

As tradition dictates, the action at Losail begins on Thursday evening with the first free practice sessions for the Qatar Grand Prix.

Marc Marquez: “I can’t wait for the season to begin! It’s been a long Winter and then testing was cut short in Qatar last week due to rain, which was very strange, but I’m confident going into this first race. This circuit isn’t one of my favourites but it’s still fun to ride and it marks the beginning of the Championship which is great. Let’s see how the conditions are after all the rain last week. As usual it will take a few sessions of the different classes on track to clear the racing line and then we will see how the grip level is. There are a lot of fast riders on fast bikes ‒as we saw during testing‒ so this first race weekend will be interesting for sure!”

Fabio Quartararo: “The preseason tests have gone very well and helped me relax, because you feel more comfortable when you’re at the top. Therefore, I am now very calm. I go to Qatar highly motivated and very curious about riding at night. I’m excited to start the World Championship but I want to go slowly, learn and enjoy myself.”

Text /Photos: PR Repsol Media Service

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Goncalves and Barreda back to work

The action returns once more as we bid farewell to silly season. It will be sand, dunes and competition galore as the first race of the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship – the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – fires up this weekend and Team HRC will be right there in the fray.

Team HRC have now put the Dakar Rally escapade behind them and this weekend it will be all sights set on the next adventure, as the Emirate of Abu Dhabi looms on the horizon, signalling the first date of a new world championship.

Paulo Gonçalves holds particularly fond memories of the event, having had his name and that of Honda etched into the winners list for the first time in last year’s edition.

Likewise, the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge will serve as a crucial test to scout for promising new talent who might one day make up the Team HRC ranks. The squad will thus line up stalwarts Paulo Gonçalves and Joan Barreda alongside youngster Ricky Brabec, who gets to savour the Honda CRF450 RALLY for the first time.

The rally will consist of a short Super Special on the afternoon of Saturday March 28, to be followed by five stages out in the Liwa desert to the south of the country’s capital, made up mainly of lengthy stretches of dunes. In total, 2,091.78 kilometres and, of these, 1,306.27 km special stage.

Text/Photo: PR Honda Racing Corporation

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