Team HRC riders make a swift start in the Dakar 2016

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The Dakar 2016 finally held its first real stage after yesterday’s cancellation. Paulo Goncalves pulled back positions finishing in sixth place and Joan Barreda, who opened the track, came home behind his Team HRC colleague.

The huge storm that blasted the riders during the first special stage yesterday – forcing the event to be cancelled – continued its course today and wreaked havoc with the programmed route, flooding large stretches of the track. Race organizers subsequently patched together a new, revised special stage from Villa Carlos Paz to Termas de Río Hondo, with the planned 450 kilometres being reduced to a total of 354, against the clock, with the finish at CP4.

In spite of this, riders were still faced with a muddy quagmire, which compromised both stability and visibility, especially for the faster riders such as Paulo Goncalves who were forced to start from rear positions due to the starting order decided at the prologue stage two days earlier.

It was indeed the Portuguese rider Gonçalves who proved to be the fastest of the Team HRC squad today in what was the first real day of racing after yesterday’s cancellation. Paulo kept up a cracking rhythm, clawing back time and places during the special stage to chalk up the sixth fastest time of the day just 2’38 behind the stage winner Toby Price.

Joan Barreda opened the track for a great part of the special stage until he found himself on a mud-filled track where he lost some time getting momentarily stuck. The riders behind followed his tracks and his rival Ruben Faria caught up with the Spaniard who navigated alongside for some four kilometres.

Frenchman Michael Metge was up among the front-runners the whole day and was overtaken by some adversaries who started from behind and took advantage of the path marked out by the proceeding pack. Metge, 17th, conceded little to the front-runners.

Ricky Brabec made his first real Dakar Rally stage debut with a well-balanced performance in some fairly unfavourable conditions. Likewise, Paolo Ceci overcame a tricky stage to finish in the first twenty-five.

Honda South America Rally Team, once again being supported by Team HRC, continue to remain very active in the race with their riders well-situated. Kevin Benavides was once again the fastest of the HSA Rally Team, finishing in eighth behind Barreda. Javier Pizzolito and Adrien Metge were among the first thirty on the day and only have cause to complain about a fall by Brazilian Jean Azevedo at kilometre 30. Fortunately he was able to get back on the bike and back into the race, if at a somewhat slower pace than before.