For the second time in the 2012 Morocco Rally, Speedbrain Husqvarna’s Joan Barreda was victorious, the Spaniard winning stage five Friday. Barreda gave Husky its first Morocco Rally stage win on Monday, the opening day of the rally.
Barreda, who finished the stage aboard the TE449R in 2 hours, 42 minutes and 55 seconds, was trailed 1 minute and 20 seconds back by Team HRC Honda’s Helder Rodrigues, who DNF’d Wednesday while in the lead (engine issues).
And although he finished ninth Friday, 12 minutes and 56 seconds back, Red Bull KTM’s Cyril Despres continues to have the overall lead. But with his stage-five win, Barreda only trails Despres by 5 minutes and 33 seconds with only one stage remaining. The next closest rider is over a half-hour back – KTM’s Chaleco Lopez.
Joan Barreda (Speedbrain Husqvarna TE449R) says: “I’m very pleased with the win. Just what was needed! Today I started from tenth place and I managed to make up a lot of ground on Despres in spite of there still being such a lot of navigation and dust.
“I kept my concentration and the bike always responded to me. This really is an important race for my team ahead of the Dakar and we’re really satisfied with the way things have been going. Tomorrow is the final day and I’ll give it 100% as always.
Cyril Despres (Red Bull KTM) says: “The first kilometers were not on the road book and I wasn’t sure I had the right bearing so I decided to turn back to check that I was right. After that it was not easy because there were many tracks from the other riders and other vehicles. I had two options, to follow the tracks or to make my own and I decided to make my own and when you do it like this, it can cost time.
“The last part was very fast and I was trying to push as much as I could. Tomorrow is a shorter stage and I will of course do everything I can to take the victory.”
As for Red Bull MRW KTM’s Marc Coma, who crashed during stage three, the three-time Dakar Rally winner had a CAT scan and MRI performed on his shoulder back home in Barcelona. The doctors confirmed a fracture with light displacement to the lesser left tuberosity (the extreme part of the humerus head). Surgery has been ruled out and, once his arm was immobilized, Coma was discharged. He is required to rest and will begin functional rehabilitation in a few days time to be fully healthy for 2013 Dakar Rally.
Marc Coma (Red Bull MRW KTM says: “I am happy after the examination, because the diagnosis is better than we expected after the crash and I will be able to recover quickly. This alters our plans for preparing the Dakar a little, but I am in good spirits and delighted that I will be able to participate. It won’t affect our entry to the race, nor the shape we will be in. Now I have to keep training, because the injury allows me to do some cardiovascular work with my physio. The forecast is that there shouldn’t be any trouble in fully recovering within a few weeks.”
KTM reports that Riders will also have little opportunity to recover from mistakes in the final Stage Six, which is only 171 kilometers of timed stretch and 206 kilometers overall. Organizers say it is short but technically tricky and will take the field back into the small dunes.
This means that given the battle between Despres and Barreda, there is still everything to play for.
2012 Morocco Rally Stage Five Results (246 km timed, total of 427km):
1. Joan Barreda, Spain, Husqvarna two hours 42 minutes 55 seconds
2. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Honda, + 1.20
3. Sam Sunderland, Britain, Honda + 4.23
4. Juan Pedrero, Spain, KTM + 7.34 5. Paolo Goncalves, Portugal, Husqvarna + 7.46
2012 Morocco Rally Overall Standings (after stage five of six):
1. Despres 16 hours, 7 minutes 19 seconds
2. Barreda +5.33
3. Lopez + 31.58
4. Verhoeven + 36.37
5. Sunderland + 39.14