Wednesday 12th & Thursday 13th December: Tracks closed. The rain up here in the hills keeps coming.

Barreda Fastest in Stage 1

Dakar 2014

maddix park mx

www.dakar.com

Everyone expected the motorcycle competition to be wide open, and that is indeed what the classification shows after the opening stage. Joan Barreda posted the fastest time of the day, with no fewer than four different manufacturers in the top four: Marc Coma, Cyril Despres and… Alain Duclos with his Sherco.  

View clip of Barreda here.

What was already a certainty has now been confirmed! Joan Barreda surely deserves his reputation as the fastest rider in the world. The former Husqvarna rider who moved to Honda in the middle of the season inaugurated his 2014 Dakar with an acrobatic performance. The fast, winding courses on the programme of today's special in the Córdoba area seemed tailor-cut to the Spanish stage hunter, who also used his favourable starting place (no. 3) to his advantage. He inched closer to Marc Coma, who was riding in the slipstream of defending champion Cyril Despres. In the end, Barreda perched himself at the top of the general classification and grabbed the 6th special of his career... Not bad, considering he has taken part in 30. 
Looking forward, one could be forgiven for thinking the trio of pre-race favourites, Barreda, Coma and Despres, has left the competition in the dust, with their most commonly cited rivals, Paolo Gonçalves and "Chaleco" López 2′25″ and 3′24″ down, respectively, and Hélder Rodrigues conceding almost 9 minutes to his Honda teammate. However, the Dakar saw its first surprise, as Alain Duclos caught the pundits unaware to finish fourth in today's stage, a mere 1′56″ slower than Barreda. The French rider had already said before the race that he was confident the changes made to his Sherco since last year would allow him to aim for the top places. Considering Duclos has not raced since the last edition, today's performance shows his boast was not an empty one. 
The fastest quad riders in the field showed why they are the favourites on the same course. Last year's runner-up Ignacio Casale bolstered his claim to the crown by winning the opening stage. Although his margin is still razor-thin, the Chilean can be proud of beating defending champion Marcos Patronelli by 6″ to add a second Dakar stage win to his booty. 

Riders Comments:

"I got a bit emotional..."  001 Cyril Despres (Bike)

"A winding special with lots of breaking and accelerating. 180 km of this was a great way to get the ball rolling! I took some time to find my bearings and ease into my pace. The first special is always tough when you come from cold Europe and you get thrown into the thick of things, so I'm happy to get good feelings. I got a bit emotional at the start, what with starting a new adventure... It was a difficult year, with the decision to move to Yamaha, and then having to prepare the motorcycle, working with the entire team... So when D-Day comes, it feels good to be racing again."

"Important to hitch myself to the right wagon..." 022 Alain Duclos (bike)

"I'm over the moon because I had lots of fun, my Sherco didn't miss a beat and it was a real pleasure to ride on this type of course, where it almost rides itself. In short: fun, speed and a nice bonus at the finish with this result! It was important for me to do well from the beginning in order to hitch myself to the right wagon for upcoming stages.

 "I'll try to keep it up" 003 Joan Barreda Bort (bike)

"I'm really happy with the first stage. At the beginning I had some trouble easing into the race due to a slight problem with the suspension, but afterwards everything went smoothly. We'll work on it to ride even faster tomorrow. I'll try to keep up this pace in the next few stages."

 "I took things easy" 002 Marc Coma (bike)

 

"First days at the Dakar are never easy. It's difficult to find and maintain your pace straight away. So I took things fairly easy and, as the day wore on, I got the right feelings and found the right pace. All things considered, I'm happy because it's important to clear the first stage without running into trouble, and that's just what I did."

"I took care of the quad" Marcos Patronelli (quad)

"I didn't particularly like this stage, to be honest. There were pitfalls everywhere, so I had some trouble finding my rhythm. I also wanted to take care of the quad and forget about speed, but the other competitors pulled out all the stops. I really took care of the quad today."

 "Viva Chile!"    251 Ignacio Casale (quad)

"I started behind Marcos [Patronelli] and we spent all day long overtaking one motorcycle after the other. There was lots of dust too. We need to stay calm and, most importantly, to take care of our machine. It looks like I won the stage. I'm delighted. So... 'Viva Chile!'"

"Everything's going to plan for me and Honda"  010 Paulo Goncalves (bike)

"It was quite difficult for a first special, with a very slippery and tricky 180 km course, especially on the mountain sides: if you fall there, you're going all the way down! So I decided to take it easy at the beginning, but little by little I eased into the pace and gained some confidence. At the end I accelerated and posted the fifth best time on the finish line. I'm happy because my teammate Joan Barreda won the stage, which means I'll start just behind him tomorrow and we'll be able to work as a team. So everything's going to plan for me and Honda."

w.w.w.motorcycle-usa.com  Comments by Byron Wilson

Team HRC set the pace in Stage 1 of the 2014 Dakar Rally, with Joan Barreda earning the fastest time through the day’s special section. He was followed by Red Bull Factory KTM’s Marc Coma less than a minute behind while five-time Dakar champ Cyril Despres of Factory Yamaha sits third.



Riders started the day with a 251 mile connection from the start line in Rosario, Argentina followed by 111 miles of timed portion through soil/stone narrow track terrain. Following that, competitors logged an additional 224 miles of connection to make it to the day’s end-point in San Luis. The elevation change during the special took riders from under 1900 feet to over 6500 feet.

After seventeen miles into the special section Barreda was already leading the way on the time card, though not by much as Coma and Despres were mere seconds off the Honda rider’s pace. Coma’s teammates, Chaleco Lopez and Jordi Villadoms, were fourth and fifth through the early stages. Team HRC rider Paulo Goncalves was gaining ground though and once he crossed the first checkpoint he had moved into fourth-place ahead of Lopez.

Rankings shuffled slightly through the remaining miles, though Barreda held fast against Coma and Despres to the finish. Samsung Sherco Rally Factory rider Alain Duclos crossed the line fourth-fastest, 1:56 off the leader with Goncalves trailing in fifth an additional 30 seconds back. Lopez sits sixth heading into Stage 2 followed by Duclos’ teammate, Juan Pedrero Garcia, in seventh. Despres’ teammate, Michael Metge took eighth with Team HRC’s Sam Sunderland in ninth and Speedbrain Rally Team’s Alessandro Botturi in 10th.

Although reported incidents were few, Yamaha’s Oliver Pain suffered an off early in the special section, though he was able quickly remount and finished the day in 16th.

2014 Dakar Rally Overall Standings after Stage 1 
1. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 2:25:31 
2. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 2:26:08 
3. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 2:27:11 
4. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco) 2:27:27 
5. Paulo Goncalves, PRT (Honda) 2:27:56 
6. Chaleco Lopez, CHL (KTM) 2:28:55 
7. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (Sherco) 2:29:18 
8. Michael Metge, FRA (Yamaha) 2:30:04 
9. Sam Sunderland, GBR (Honda) 2:30:04 
10. Alessandro Botturi, ITA (Speedbrain) 2:30:19
 
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