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