Barreda wins Sealine Cross-Country Rally

Joan ‘Bang Bang’ Barreda takes the title at the Sealine Cross-Country Rally in Qatar. This is his first triumph in a world championship race with the Honda CRF450 RALLY, and in doing so becomes the championship’s new leader.

The fifth and final stage of Qatar’s Sealine Cross-Country Rally, once again saw Team HRC in winning mood. This is now the team’s third consecutive win in the World Rally Raids, since the debut of the new Honda CRF450 RALLY in the Morocco Rally. In addition, it is the season’s second win after the race in Abu Dhabi a fortnight ago.

Joan ‘Bang Bang’ Barreda was clearly man of the day, as he picked up his second World Rally Raids win, the first on a Honda. The rider who hails from Castellón, set out with a win in the first stage of the Sealine Cross-Country Rallies, at a cracking pace, and imposed himself once more in the third race. In the final special, he rode an intelligent ride, catching his main rival and then keeping him in check until the finish-line.

It was Hélder Rodrigues who took the final stage victory, earning himself a place on the final podium too, after a string of steady daily performances.

Fellow-countryman Paulo Gonçalves was left regreting an error on the competition’s first day which left him without better options for the final classification. Today’s sixth place finish leaves him with a fifth overall final place in this edition of the Sealine. Team HRC riders thus have won 4 of the 5 stages, with all the team’s machines finishing without a single mechanical fault.

The final result of the second championship race leaves Joan Barreda in command of the championship replacing team-mate and reigning world champion Paulo Gonçalves at the head of the leader-board, with a one point advantage over Marc Coma in second place in the World Rally Raids table.

Team HRC’s next port of call will be in Europe with the Sardinia Rally Race, the fourth in the World Championship calendar, to be held on the picturesque Italian island from 7 to 12 June.

Joan Barreda: “I’m really pleased. Finally, after a whole week of really hard work, I’ve made it. I’m really happy for the victory, for the team, and for Honda. We have won here in Qatar, and we are leading the world championship too. This is a just reward for all the hard work that the team has done.”

Results Stage 5
1 Helder Rodrigues 04:17’59 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
2 Ruben Faria +01’06 POR KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
3 Joan Barreda +03’55 ESP HONDA TEAM HRC
4 Marc Coma +05’59 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
5 Jordi Viladoms +10’13 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
6 Paulo Goncalves +11’57 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC

Final classification Sealine Cross-Country Rally 2014
1 Joan Barreda 20:28’46 ESP HONDA TEAM HRC

2 Marc Coma +01’23 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
3 Helder Rodrigues +01’50 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
4 Jordi Viladoms +07’19 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
5 Paulo Goncalves +08’40 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC

Text/Photo: PR Team HRC

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Win for ‘Speedy’ Gonçalves in the fourth stage

Another great win for Team HRC in the fourth stage of the Sealine Cross-Country Rally disputed today in Qatar. Paulo ‘Speedy’ Gonçalves picks up first place in the stage aboard the Honda CRF450 RALLY, the third for the team so far in the competition.

The Team HRC continue their run of excellent results and maintain the squad with great options for the final classification in the Sealine Cross-Country Rally as the race heads into tomorrow’s final stage.

Today was the turn of Paulo Gonçalves, who put his skill at handling and high speed on display for all, as he clocked up the fastest time in the Sealine’s fourth special, a 404 km affair across the Qatar desert in the Arabian Gulf. The Portuguese rider made up for lost time in the overall standings, and now lies just 17 seconds away from a podium place.

Joan ‘Bang Bang’ Barreda, set off knowing the importance of controlling the race and keeping his close competitor at Marc Coma at bay. Barreda finished fifth, with a good chance of taking overall victory as he now finds himself just 41 seconds behind the leader.

Tomorrow sees the final stage of the Sealine Cross-Country Rally, with some 363 km against the clock, with the final finish-line back where the race set out from in Umm Sa’id.

Paulo Goncalves: “I had a really good race day. I won the stage but more important is the time that I pulled back from my adversaries after the mistake with the navigation on the first day. My focus is to be on the podium at the end of the rally. But we have to keep our eye on the target and stay focused, because tomorrow we have 270 kms still to race and it’s easy to slip up and make a mistake, so we’ll wait and see what happens.”

Results Stage 4
1 Paulo Goncalves 04:48’07 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
2 Jordi Viladoms +01’58 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
3 Helder Rodrigues +03’58 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
4 Marc Coma +06’08 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
5 Joan Barreda +08’08 ESP HONDA TEAM HRC

Provisional Standings after Stage 4
1 Marc Coma 16:06’11 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
2 Joan Barreda +00’41 ESP HONDA TEAM HRC
3 Jordi Viladoms +01’52 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
4 Paulo Goncalves +02’09 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
5 Helder Rodrigues +06’26 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC

Text/Photo: PR Team HRC

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A victorious Barreda retakes the leadership

The third day of the Sealine Cross-Country Rally put Joan Barreda back on the top of the leader-board in what proved to be a great day out for Team HRC, imposing a cracking pace and taking the stage victory.

Qatar’s Sealine Cross-Country Rally thus arrives at its halfway point, and the riders of Team HRC are well placed among the race’s leaders. Joan Barreda set off from sixth place on the Honda CRF450 RALLY at a thundering rhythm, and with flawless navigation was able to reach and overtake the rivals ahead, crossing the line in Umm Sa’id for his second win so far. At 411.76 km, the special is the longest of those to be disputed here at the Sealine. The win sees Spanish rider Barreda once again back on the top of the overall standings, with all options open as the race goes into its final phase.

For Paulo Gonçalves it was likewise a positive day in spite of a fifth place finish. We watched as Barreda was able to pull up to him. The reigning world champion and current leader of the world championship lies in fourth place, and will be fighting to improve on the position over the final two days.

Joan Barreda: “Today I’m really happy because I started out in sixth place after yesterday’s position. I kept up a really good rhythm from the first kilometres. I caught up with Marc at kilometre 30 and then Viladoms. I kept pushing really hard to try and catch up with Paulo and Sam, and finally, after refuelling, with some difficult areas and navigation, I reached them, and we finished altogether in a group. So, I’m really happy with another victory, and also a victory for Honda.”

Results Stage 3
1 Joan Barreda 04:53’43 ESP HONDA TEAM HRC

2 Marc Coma +02’15 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
3 Helder Rodrigues +04’02 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
4 Jordi Viladoms +06’11 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
5 Paulo Goncalves +08’03 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC

Provisional Standings after Stage 3
1 Joan Barreda 11:10’37 ESP HONDA TEAM HRC
2 Marc Coma +01’19 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
3 Jordi Viladoms +07’21 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
4 Paulo Goncalves +09’36 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
5 Helder Rodrigues +09’55 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC

Text/Photo: PR Team HRC

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Gonçalves keeps his options open

Another good day at the office for Team HRC in the second stage of the Sealine Cross-Country Rally. After a long and gruelling stage needing a lot of navigation, the Honda CRF450 RALLY riders picked up a worthy team result, leaving them well established in the overall standings.

It proved to be a satisfying day for the Team HRC riders in the second stage of the Qatar rally, that leaves the door open for a promising final result. Paulo Gonçalves finished in second, Hélder Rodrigues, fourth, and Joan Barreda in sixth place, a result that means all stand a chance of a final podium place.

What an arduous second stage the of the Sealine Cross-Country Rally turned out to be. The race is the longest of all the rally’s stages in terms of kilometres, with some 396 km of route through Qatar’s peninsula. The route was cluttered with many rocks, and the terrain was hard. Moreover, a very tricky day’s navigation played an important role, and this meant note-reading right from the outset.

Paulo Gonçalves, who set out from behind after commiting an error yesterday, managed to claw his way back to second, and erase most of the time lost in the first stage. The Portuguese rider arrived alongside the stage winner Sam Sunderland, and now lies only 2’29” behind the race leader.

Joan Barreda‘s stage went pretty much according to plan. The rider set off from the front with a lot of complicated navigation ahead, which allowed his adversaries to catch up with him, but finished in the leader’s group. His sixth place on the day, leaves him in second overall.

Paulo Gonçalves: “It was a really hard day today. Over 390 km of hard track and lots of rocks, as well as difficult navigation. I managed to make up for some of the time lost yesterday. We’ve got three days ahead, and I’ll keep the objectives in mind, and will keep pushing.”

Results Stage 2
1 Sam Sunderland 04:22’22 GBR KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
2 Paulo Goncalves +02’04 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
3 Jordi Viladoms +08’07 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
4 Helder Rodrigues +08’30 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
5 Marc Coma +10’03 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
6 Joan Barreda +12’01 ESP HONDA TEAM HRC

Provisional Standings after Stage 2
1 Marc Coma 06:15’58 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
2 Joan Barreda +00’56 ESP HONDA TEAM HRC
3 Jordi Viladoms +02’06 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
4 Paulo Goncalves +02’29 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
5 Sam Sunderland +05’58 GBR KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory

Text/Photo: PR Team HRC

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Barreda opens the Sealine with a victory

Joan ‘Bang Bang’ Barreda on the Honda CRF450 RALLY won a demanding first stage in the Sealine Cross-Country Rally disputed today, Monday, in Qatar.

After setting the pace just ten days ago in Abu Dhabi, it was once again Team HRC commanding from the outset of the Sealine in Qatar with Joan Barreda taking the honours and the provisional leadership at the end of the first 164.18 km special with start in Losail Circuit. It might have been the shortest stage of the race, but it was one in which riders had to use the full range of their rally skills to make it through. There was plenty of tough navigation, requiring constant and rigorous interpretation of the roadbook, to be able to carve the way through a complicated course.

A flawless Joan Barreda put pedal to the metal on his Honda CRF450 RALLY from the start of the Sealine Cross-Country Rally battling his way past his adversaries in the process. At the end of the special, ‘Bang Bang’ had opened a deficit of more than a minute over Marc Coma, winning the stage and establishing himself as the Sealine’s first leader.

Portuguese and current World Rally-Raid leader, Paulo Gonçalves, made a small but costly navigating error that left him trailing his team-mate by several minutes. The world champion finished in sixth place.

Joan Barreda: “I’m really pleased with the stage in Qatar. Not just because I’ve been very fast, but also because of the navigation: I did a really good job. I had tried to change the first day strategy, but in the end I’ve picked up a very important win which sets me up nicely for the next few days.”

Results Stage 1
1 Joan Barreda 01:42’31 ESP HONDA TEAM HRC
2 Marc Coma +01’02 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
3 Jordi Viladoms +05’04 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
4 Mohammed Albalooshi +07’03 UAE KTM KTM UAC
5 Helder Rodrigues +09’24 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
6 Paulo Goncalves +11’30 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC

Standings after Stage 1
1 Joan Barreda 01:42’31 ESP HONDA TEAM HRC
2 Marc Coma +01’02 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
3 Jordi Viladoms +05’04 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
4 Mohammed Albalooshi +07’03 UAE KTM KTM UAC
5 Helder Rodrigues +09’24 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
6 Paulo Goncalves +11’30 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC

Text/Photo: PR Team HRC

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Second victory in a row for Marc Marquez

Living up to expectations in style, Marc Marquez took the top place on the podium at the second race of the 2014 season – held at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. It was a repeat of the result from last season for the Repsol Honda rider. Marc Marquez put on a masterclass in the race, and his victory extends his World Championship lead. He also becomes the first rider since Mick Doohan in 1995 to win the opening two races of the season from pole position.

The race began in unorthodox fashion, with Jorge Lorenzo jumping the start and leading the opening lap ahead of Marquez and Pedrosa. Upon the conclusion of Lap 1 the Yamaha rider rode down pit lane to take his ride-through penalty, leaving the two Repsol Honda men out in front with a gap to the rest of the field. Marquez imposed an unmatchable pace, leaving Pedrosa to take the chequered flag 4 seconds behind his teammate. Marquez leads the World Championship with 50 points, whilst Pedrosa moves up to second with 36.

The next challenge for the Repsol Honda Team comes in two weeks’ time, as MotoGP returns to Argentina to debut at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit.

Marc Marquez: “I’m very happy! I got a really good start, but when I saw Jorge overtake me off the line at first I was a little worried, but then I saw that he had jumped the start. It was a different race to previous ones because I led from start to finish; although it might seem easier that way, it is tough because you have to maintain concentration. It was a perfect weekend and gives us plenty of confidence, although we are aware that the coming races will be different. I know that the race was a little boring for the fans, but sometimes these types of races are good for a rider. Let’s hope that the next one is more exciting!”

Result
1 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda 43:33.430
2 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda +4.124
3 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati +20.976
4 Stefan Bradl Honda +22.790
5 Bardley Smith Yamaha +22.963

Championship Standings

1 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda 50 points
2 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda 36 points
3 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 28 points
4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 27 points
5 Aleix Espargaro Forward Yamaha 20 points

Text/Photo: PR Repsol Media Service

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Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge victory for Paulo Gonçalves

Paulo Gonçalves has won the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the first race in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship after winning the fifth and final stage of the race. Joan Barreda finished third on the final day.

In what was a great all-round team effort as Team HRC starts the Rally Raid World Championships with an important victory combining a solid base, consistent work and faith in the final goal. Paulo Gonçalves rode his Honda CRF450 RALLY to perfection on the final day catching up with Marc Coma, at the second check-point, who was up alongside Joan Barreda opening the way in the special. From then on the Portuguese rider took control of the race and charged home, opening up a wide enough gap over his adversary to win both the stage and the overall triumph in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge.

Joan Barreda finished the stage in third, consolidating his third place in the overall standings. The Spanish rider won three of the rally’s specials. Portuguese team-mate Hélder Rodrigues finished fourth in the stage and seventh overall.

For both Gonçalves and Honda and HRC, this is the first win in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Paulo Gonçalves made an impeccable start to his world title defense, becoming the first leader of the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship in 2014.

Fantastic panorama during the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge

Paulo Goncalves: “So this Abu Dhabi rally is finished, and I’m really happy for me, and all the team. We have fought a lot during these five days, but we have shown that we have a strong team, a really competitive bike, some really fast riders, and we managed to pick up a victory. So we should be pleased and confident about our future. Our bike is working really well in these hard conditions here in the Abu Dhabi desert, so we need to be happy. Congratulations to everybody.”

Joan Barreda: “Good. So finally I am really happy for the victory here with Paulo in the first race of the world championship, and in the end I’m also on the podium. We did a really good job on the last day and we had a win in the first race for Honda.”

Results Stage 5
1 Paulo Goncalves 02:44’06 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC

2 Marc Coma +01’51 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
3 Joan Barreda +04’26 ESP HONDA TEAM HRC
4 Helder Rodrigues +05’17 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
5 Jordi Viladoms +09’29 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
6 Miran Stanovnik +12’31 SLO KTM Team Stavnovik
7 Jakub Piatek +21’38 POL KTM Team Hanesco
8 Aleksei Nikishkin +25’38 RUS HONDA WI Rally
9 Oliver Lloyd +25’43 GBR SPEEDBRAIN Speedbrain Rally Team
10 Kristian Karcher +27’19 GER YAMAHA Team Karcher

Final classification Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2014
1 Paulo Goncalves 16:57’47 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC

2 Marc Coma +00’20 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
3 Joan Barreda +08’44 ESP HONDA TEAM HRC
4 Jordi Viladoms +40’49 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
5 Miran Stanovnik +01:39’24 SLO KTM Team Stavnovik
6 Mohammed Albalooshi +02:00’06 UAE KTM KTM UAC
7 Helder Rodrigues +02:02’29 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
8 Oliver Lloyd +03:02’29 GBR SPEEDBRAIN Speedbrain Rally Team
9 Jakub Piatek +03:03’01 POL KTM Team Hanesco
10 Santosh CS +03:11’15 IND KTM Team CS

Text/Photo: PR Team HRC

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‘Bang Bang’ Barreda wins the fourth stage

Joan Barreda wins yet another stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, commanding from the start after a spectacular motocross-style start. Paulo Gonçalves, is second in the overall standings keeping open his chances of winning the rally.

Joan ‘Bang Bang’ Barreda rode a superb fourth stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, winning the special and remaining alone up front from the start to the finishing-line in Qasr Al Sarab. It was a different start from the normal ones, with riders setting off in groups of fifteen at the same time. Barreda got off to a flying start on the Honda CRF450 RALLY, and upped the pace after the refuelling, crossing the line with a 1 minute 20 second advantage over Marc Coma. The rider who hails from Spain’s Castellón stands third on the overall leader-board.

Paulo Gonçalves kept up a cracking rhythm throughout most of the day, taking care not to lose Barreda and Coma, although a slight error on one of the dunes saw him lose a little time. In spite of this, the reigning world champion finished in third and climbs a place in the overall standings, just one and a half minutes behind Marc Coma as the race heads into its final stage.

Tomorrow sees the fifth and final stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, with a 244.77 km special. Team HRC will be fighting to the final metre to obtain victory in the test and notch up a respectable final overall team result.

Joan Barreda:“Today was a really good day. After the first day without a very good feeling and some problems, suddenly we found a good pace and a good rhythm. The last two or three days we’ve found a really good speed, always pushing. We have another victory. I know that it is not easy to win this rally, but tomorrow we will be giving it our all.”

Paulo Goncalves: “Today was a very hard day. Before the refuelling we were all riding together at a slower speed. After refuelling we speeded up. A few kilometres from the end as me, Joan and Marc were together, I got a bit caught up in one of the dunes. But tomorrow we have chance to win the race and we will try. I hope it all goes well.”

Results Stage 4
1 Joan Barreda 03:37’20 ESP HONDA TEAM HRC

2 Marc Coma +01’20 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
3 Paulo Goncalves +02’29 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
4 Jordi Viladoms +03’22 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
5 Helder Rodrigues +04’31 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
6 Mohammed Albalooshi +06’12 UAE KTM KTM UAC
7 Miran Stanovnik +09’33 SLO KTM Team Stavnovik
8 Mohammed Abu Issa +21’47 QAT YAMAHA Abu Issa
9 Oliver Lloyd +29’05 GBR SPEEDBRAIN Speedbrain Rally Team
10 Rafal Sonik +29’20 POL HONDA Poland National

Provisional Standings after Stage 4
1 Marc Coma 14:12’10 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
2 Paulo Goncalves +01’31 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
3 Joan Barreda +05’49 ESP HONDA TEAM HRC

4 Jordi Viladoms +32’51 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
5 Miran Stanovnik +1:28’24 SLO KTM Team Stavnovik
6 Mohammed Albalooshi +1:31’01 UAE KTM KTM UAC
7 Helder Rodrigues +1:58’43 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
8 Oliver Lloyd +2:38’17 GBR SPEEDBRAIN Speedbrain Rally Team
9 Santosh CS +02:45’37 IND KTM Team CS
10 Jakub Piatek +2:46’38 POL KTM Team Hanesco

Text/Photo: PR Team HRC

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Stage victory for Joan Barreda

A highly productive day for Team HRC riders at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, with Joan Barreda flying to victory in the third special just ahead of team-mate and reigning world champion Paulo Gonçalves.

It was a terrific win for Joan Barreda in the third stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge and a worthy second place for Paulo Gonçalves, who moves in on the front-runners. The race goes into the final days with everything left hanging in the air.

It was a very positive day for the riders of Team HRC in the third stage that took place between Moreeb and the luxurious bivouac in Qasr Al Sarab. After the 256.4 km special over the dunes of the great erg of Moreeb in the country’s south, Joan Barreda was able to floor his Honda CRF450 RALLY to reach Paulo Gonçalves and accompany him to the finish-line. In doing so, the Portugese rider closes in on the two race leaders ahead in the overall standings. Paulo now sits just 52 seconds behind the leader Sam Sunderland.

Hélder Rodrigues finished the stage comfortably without taking any excessive risks in what had proved to be a tricky stage, where high speed corresponded to high danger. Hélder was fifth some 8’51” behind Barreda.

This marks Team HRC’s first double with the new line-up so far in the 2014 season. In the last edition of the Rally Dakar, Joan Barreda and Hélder Rodrigues, again on the Honda CRF450 RALLY, had finished first and second in the tenth stage. (Iquique-Antofagasta).

Tomorrow’s stage will have a new twist: the riders will set off in groups of fifteen in a motocross-style start.

Joan Barreda: “I’m happy. Finally on the third stage we had a good day, spending the whole day pushing. I started in fourth position and I caught up with Paulo and we pushed together trying to catch up with the front runners. I’m very pleased and have a good feeling because the bike performed perfectly today. It was a perfect day and we will try to go on this way, and the day after tomorrow we should finish the rally with a good result.”

Paulo Goncalves: “Today we had a really good day for Team HRC. We achieved first and second overall, me and Joan. We have two more days to race, and I will keep battling with them to try and win. We are really happy with our bike because we can really put it to the test on these hard tracks in Abu Dhabi. Everything is ok at the moment so we are really confident about what is coming in the future.”

Results Stage 3
1 Joan Barreda 03:20’02 ESP HONDA TEAM HRC
2 Paulo Goncalves +01’05 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC

3 Sam Sunderland +03’04 ENG KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
4 Marc Coma +04’59 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
5 Helder Rodrigues +08’51 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
6 Jordi Viladoms +10’39 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
7 Mohammed Albalooshi +20’33 UAE KTM KTM UAC
8 Miran Stanovnik +22’24 SLO KTM Team Stavnovik
9 Kristian Karcher +27’59 GER YAMAHA Team Karcher
10 Aleksei Nikishkin +28’33 RUS HONDA WI Rally

Provisional Standings after Stage 3
1 Sam Sunderland 10:33’00 ENG KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
2 Marc Coma +00’30 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
3 Paulo Goncalves +00’52 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
4 Joan Barreda +07’45 ESP HONDA TEAM HRC

5 Jordi Viladoms +31’19 ESP KTM KTM Red Bull Rally Factory
6 Miran Stanovnik +01:20’41 SLO KTM Team Stavnovik
7 Mohammed Albalooshi +01:26’39 UAE KTM KTM UAC
8 Aleksei Nikishkin +01:48’50 RUS HONDA WI Rally
9 Helder Rodrigues +01:56’02 PRT HONDA TEAM HRC
10 Kristian Karcher +01:58’30 GER YAMAHA Team Karcher

Text/Photo: PR HRC Racing

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Interview Paulo Gonçalves

As reigning champion in the World FIM of Cross-Country Rallies, Portuguese rider Paulo Gonçalves will have the number one displayed across the fairings of his Honda CRF450 RALLY as he starts out in Abu Dhabi.

Paulo Gonçalves barely had time to enjoy his world championship title which he picked up after a win in the Moroccan Rally last October. No sooner had he finished the rounds with the world’s press, he was straight off to train with the team for the Rally Dakar 2014, a race which he exited prematurely in the fifth stage.

In October you were crowned World Champion. How have been the six months between then and now, as the first test of the new World Championship begins?
In these six months we have given a lot of continuity to the job done over the course of last season. After taking the title in the championship we set about preparing for the Dakar. Unfortunately for me, the race was quite short. On coming back from South America I was able to rest for two weeks before going back to work again. The championship gets underway shortly and I’ve got a huge responsibility ahead of me. We want to make a good impression by doing things well to be in ready to defend the number one.

Exactly. You’ll have the number 1 on the Honda CRF450 RALLY. Will this put you under more pressure?
I think that the pressure is on when you are about to win the championship, and you could throw it all away by making a few wrong decisions. Now it’s all done and it’s time to get down to business this week and try and win it once again. But anyway, it shouldn’t be forgotten that it’s a long championship; it’s not just a week, it’s six more months and you have to be very competitive and consistent. You’ve got to be quick in the race without making any mistakes, or having problems to stand any chance of winning again.

How do plan the race?
It’s the first race so it’s a good chance to check out how the rivals are doing. The aim is to finish as high up as possible. To see how everything is shaping up and try and keep improving from here on.

What are the characteristics of Abu Dhabi and Qatar, the two first tests of the championship, one straight after the other?
Abu Dhabi is a very different race to the rest in the World Championship calendar. 90% of the race is on sand, with loads of dunes; giant dunes, enormous. Sometimes you can go along the top of one for kilometres without even knowing you are on a dune. It’s a really special test. On the other hand, the Qatar Sealine is like a mixture of Abu Dhabi and the rest of the other championship dates.

You’ll have Joan Barreda and Hélder Rodrigues as team-mates in the race. A great team!
Yeah. I think that we will be in the running for the first spot with the Honda CRF450 RALLY. We’ll all be fighting for it. The aim is to finish as high as possible and get a good result for the number one.

The Dakar saw the end of last season. Now you will face the new year forgetting what happened in January.
Yes. You’ve got to stay positive. The Dakar is over and behind us. Sometimes strange things happen and you just have to pick yourself up and get on with it. You’ve got to look ahead and forget about what didn’t turn our right, but always working hard to improve.

Last but not least: You were for first time in the FIM prize giving Gala ceremony last December in Montecarlo with all the World Champions. How it was?
It was a great experience for me. I had the opportunity to meet same of my hero like Cyril Neveu that won with Honda in 1982, 1986 and 1987, and, of course, the MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez that is an incredible talent.

Profile Paulo Goncalves:
Date of birth 5th February 1979
Birthplace Esposende (Portugal)
Home Gemeses (Portugal)
Height 168 cm
Weight 74 kg
Hobbies Jet Ski, Poker, Cinema

Text/Photos: PR Team HRC

 

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