2014 Dakar Rally – HRC Honda’s Barreda Takes Stage 1The 2014 Dakar Rally, which will take the motorcycle field 5,427 miles through Argentina, Boliva and Chile, began Sunday, Jan. 5, with the first of 13 stages.
Due to some changes in this year’s structure, the racing is even more grueling for the world’s “toughest” rally – and the motorcycle action from stage one proves this.The first stage took the motorcycle field 520 miles – which is the longest stage – from Rosario to San Luis in Argentina. It contained a 112-mile special, and a 390-mile liaison, with many blind jumps throughout the sandy landscapes.Official Dakar reports say that 174 motorcycles entered the rally, but by the end of the day one, only 168 crossed the finish line in San Luis.And leading this group was former Husqvarna pilot Joan Barreda Bort of Spain. Barreda, who switched to Team HRC Honda mid-way through 2013, finished the stage in 2 hours, 25 minutes and 31 seconds (02:25:31).Thought the Honda finished on top, four separate manufacturers held the top-four positions. Finishing second, 37 seconds behind, was three-time Dakar winner Marc Coma (Spain) aboard the Red Bull KTM 450 Rally.Next was five-time Dakar winner and reigning title holder Cyril Despres (France) aboard the Yamaha YZF450 Rally; he finished 1 minute and 40 seconds behind Barreda.Fourth went to Sherco’s Alain Duclos (France), who finished 1 minuted and 56 seconds back. Taking fifth on the first of 13 stages was Barreda’s teammate Paulo Goncalves (Portugal).As for the Americans competing, Kevin Muggleton (Honda) finished 120th; Mike Johnson 139th; and Peter Hardy 154th.2014 Dakar Rally Official Stage One Report:The fast, winding courses on the program of today’s special in the Córdoba area seemed tailor-cut to the stage hunter Barreda, who also used his favorable starting place (no. 3) to his advantage.He inched closer to Coma, who was riding in the slipstream of defending champion Cyril Despres, to slowly but steadily gain seconds and minutes throughout the 112-mile special.In the end, Barreda perched himself at the top of the general classification and grabbed the sixth 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 favorites, Barreda, Coma and Despres, has left the competition in the dust, with their most commonly cited rivals, 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 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.Check out the stage-one action during the “Dakar Rally Series,” which will air on NBC Sports Network at 5 p.m. ET Monday. For the entire broadcast USA “Dakar Rally Series” schedule, click here.2014 Dakar Rally Stage One Quotes:Joan Barreda Bort (HRC Honda CRF450 Rally) says: “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.”Marc Coma (Red Bull KTM 450 Rally) says: “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.”Cyril Despres (Red Bull Yamaha YZF450 Rally) says: “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.”Alain Duclos (Samsung Sherco Rally Factory 450 SR) says: “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.”Paulo Gonclaves (HRC Honda CRF450 Rally) says: “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.”2014 Dakar Rally: A Look at Stage 2 (Monday, Jan. 6)Riders will compete from San Luis to San Rafael – 227 mile liaison, 223 mile special = 450 miles2014 Dakar Rally Stage One Results:
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!