'Bang Bang' Barreda made a spectacular come-back to the World Championship, with a win in the first stage of the Morocco Rally after setting a cracking pace from start to finish. An awesome victory for the Honda CRF450 RALLY which also saw five of its riders finish in the top seven on the day. Paulo Gonçalves and Hélder Rodrigues came in third and fourth, while Javier Pizzolito and Sam Sunderland finished sixth and seventh.
Nobody, least of all, Joan Barrera, was prepared to hold back in this, the first of the Morocco Rally. The Spanish rider clearly set out to win. In spite of a slight initial error early on whilst crossing the Cheggaga dunes, the rider from Castellón clocked up the fastest times and finished the fastest overall, over three minutes ahead of the second place rival.
Paulo Goncalves headed off from a good starting position, although he had a tough job with the amount of dust generated by riders up ahead. In spite of this, he was able to keep up a fine pace, getting on extremely well with the CRF450 RALLY, and finishing in third, thus proving that the new bike is a force to be reckoned with.
After the first way-point there were three HRC riders, Barreda, Rodrigues and Goncalves, in the first three places. Given that we are only in the first of six stages of the Morocco Rally, Hélder Rodrigues decided not to take any risks. The Portuguese rider scored the fourth fastest time of the day at 6'13” from the winner Barreda.
Team HRC Argeninian rider Javier Pizzolito, finished in sixth place, and also had nothing but praise for the hardware that took him there. Pizzolito put in a very reliable performance, since his starting position also meant that he had to put up with a lot of the dust generated by the riders ahead. Sam Sunderland also put in a good performance without too much loss of time. He finished 11'09” behind Barreda, just 30 seconds after Pizzolito.
Joan Barreda 1st 2:25'40 Team HRC
The truth is that I’m very pleased with the opening stage, and although there is still a long way to go, I managed to keep up a good rhythm and only made a slight mistake in the dunes. I had to go back one kilometre, but I was lucky enough that the arrow on the GPS opened up right away. After I was able to set a good steady pace.
Paulo Goncalves 2nd +03'09 Team HRC
I had to ride in a lot of difficulty but at times being behind helped me out. The most important thing today was to make it through, and build confidence for the next few days. I’ve got to say that I’m really thrilled with the new CRF450 RALLY which went perfectly. I love this bike more and more every day. It really hit it off and I’m sure that it go well in the next couple of stages.
Helder Rodrigues 4rt +06'13 TEAM HRC
Today was the first day of rally and I think that it’s gone really well until now. I pushed hard, but not only because it was the first day. The great thing is that I didn’t lose too much time with the first riders, but I think that I did a great job of finishing in a good overall position.
Javier Pizzolito 6th +10'32 TEAM HRC
I’m very happy with the first stage. The bike gave me some really good sensations. It really has a superior mechanics to the previous one, and I’m sure we can do something with this. I’m getting used to the race, the bike and I hope to finish in a good position.
Sam Sunderland 7th +11'09 Team HRC Rally
I had a good day and took it quite steady in the dust. The bike worked great. I stayed safe and tried to hit my navigation good and stay out of the dust and avoid the dangers. It all went pretty good and overall I’m pretty happy.