Barreda’s bent Honda cockpit

Portuguese Paulo Gonçalves was victorious as the Dakar 2015 riders rolled into Uyuni, Bolivia with its parc fermé where the bikes will be isolated overnight. The rules governing the end of the first marathon stage specify that, where necessary, machines can only be repaired by the actual competitors themselves. The man who benefitted most on the state bwas KTM Red Bull Factory rider Marc Coma, who was second and make up ground on overall leader Joan Barreda, who crashed.

The mountainous zones that led from Chile to Bolivia amounted to a tough test for bikes and riders alike. The altitude of over 3600 metres for the 321 kilometres were taxing enough, but add in dire meteorological conditions which included rain and snow in Uyuni, and the result was dusty tracks turned into a veritable quagmire.

Gonçalves hit hard from the outset, keeping up an even pace through most of the race, and forcing a more ferocious final stretch, that saw the Team HRC rider finish the special stage with the best time. As yesterday’s winner, Hélder Rodrigues, was first away and open the road until shortly after CP1 where he was overtaken by KTM’s Mathias Walkner. He was reached by team-mate Gonçalves too, and the two rode the rest of the stage side by side.

Joan Barreda got off to a fine start in the timed special, but as the stage played out, he took a tumble, and managed to break the handlebars into two. Nevertheless, with 120 kilometres still to go, the never-say-die Spaniard dug deep and limited the time conceded to arch-rival Coma to a mere six minutes. The Honda ace’s cushion allows him, however, to stay ahead in the general rankings.

It was a relatively laid-back and trouble-free stage for Jeremías Israel and Laia Sanz. Both posted top twenty finishes, preferring to not take any unnecessary risks in such adverse conditions. They will be important to the team overnight because they will probably sacrifice parts in order to get Barreda’s bike repaired.

Barreda: “It was a tough stage where you had to be careful, but when I came to a muddy section around kilometre 200, while I was breaking before a danger marked on the road book, the bike slid and I crashed. The handlebars were damaged, so I had to do the last 120 kilometres just with the right hand. I was pushing hard to lose a minimum of time, but that was not easy. We are now at the marathon stage, we are a great team and we will solve the problem with my teammates.”


1 GONCALVES Paulo POR Team HRC Honda 3:56’00
2 COMA Marc SPA KTM Red Bull Rally Factory KTM + 00’14
3 WALKNER Mathias AUT KTM Red Bull Rally Factory KTM + 00’30
5 PRICE Toby AUS KTM AUS Rally Factory KTM + 1’49
6 PEDRERO Joan SPA Pont Grup Yamaha JVO Yamaha + 3’20
7 DUCLOS Alain FRA Sherco Rally Factory Sherco + 3’48
8 RODRIGUES Helder POR Team HRC Honda + 4’05
9 SVITKO Stefan SLO Slovnaft Team KTM + 5’09
10 VAN NIEKERK Riaan RSA Brother Link KTM Rally KTM + 6’06
11 VILADOMS Jordi SPA KTM Red Bull Rally Factory KTM + 6’10
12 BARREDA Joan SPA Team HRC Honda + 6’13
13 BOTTURI Alessandro ITA Yamaha Racing Yamaha + 6’13
14 FARIA Ruben POR KTM Red Bull Rally Factory KTM + 6’41
15 CASTEU David FRA Team Casteu KTM + 8’13
16 JAKES Ivan SLO Microstep Industry Team KTM + 9’24
17 ISRAEL Jeremias CHI Team HRC Honda + 10’02
18 VOGELS Hans NDL Team Hans Vogels KTM + 11’20
19 CABRERA Patricio CHI Kawasaki Chile Team

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