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