On Bike Category, Joan Barreda got the show on the road today with an imposing victory, on Quad category, Rafal Sonik takes control.
A steady fourth place on a quick first stage where there was more to lose than to win, Joan Barreda got the show on the road today during the first major special stage of the Dakar with an imposing victory. Sam Sunderland experienced disillusion by getting lost for a (very) long time 70 km from the finish.
Already a ten times stage winner on the Dakar, Joan Barreda has had to content himself so far with a 7th final position as his personal best, which can be qualified as a disappointment for the Spaniard who appears to be determined to do his utmost for victory in 2015. This goal is perfectly within his reach, since the Honda rider continued his collaboration with HRC with a victory on the second stage of the rally between Villa Carlos Paz and San Juan.
Benefiting from rivals' problems
Battling with Marc Coma and Sam Sunderland all along the 518-km special, Barreda finally benefited from his rivals' problems at the end of the stage. Coma suffered problems with his tyres and had to ease off the pace over the last 60 kilometres to make sure he reached the finish whilst yesterday's winner got lost for up to two hours whilst trying to find the right track and can more or less kiss goodbye to his ambitions in the general standings.
Paulo Gonçalves came up trumps again with another second place that allows him to consolidate his second place in the general standings, though today he did lose six minutes to Barreda. In third place, nine minutes behind, Ruben Faria achieved the performance of the day on completion of a very physically demanding stage, only two months after an operation on a broken collar bone. He beat Jordi Viladoms by four seconds, whilst debutants Toby Price and Matthias Walkner made a big impression by taking 5th and 6th place at the finishing line.
In the quad race, Rafal Sonik put in a splendid performance at the end of the stage to distance his two most serious rivals Ignacio Casale and Sergio Lafuente. The Polish rider, who finished 3'33'' ahead of yesterday's winner, took advantage to wrestle control of the general standings from Casale, whilst Lafuente rounds off a leading trio who already dominated on the rally's first stage.