Paulo Goncalves wins Stage 4 of the Dakar Rally as Joan Barreda gets nailed for speeding again and loses out on a would-be second stage victory in the 2014.
Team HRC’s Joan Barreda is once again showing that he is the fastest motorcycle rider in the Dakar Rally, and once again it seems that fate is stepping in to irritate his run for the biggest prize in the world of off-road rally racing.
Yesterday, Barreda led a Honda 1-2-3 finish of Stage 3, but a speeding violation netted the Spaniard a 1-minute penalty and robbed him of what have been his 14th career Dakar Rally stage win. Today was more of the same, as Barreda once again posted the fastest time in the first part of the marathon stage in Jujuy, Argentina, only to incur more speeding violations and having 5 minutes added to his time. As a result, Barreda was dropped to fourth place in the stage while his, Paulo Goncalves, was credited with the Stage 4 win and also moved into the overall rally lead.
If there is any good news in the Honda turmoil, it is that it is all happening while the flying red machines remain at the front of the pack. Goncalves, yesterday’s stage winner Kevin Benavides and Barreda currently occupy the top three spots overall, with less than 5 minutes and 30 seconds among them.
After being awarded the Stage 3 win yesterday, Honda South America’s Kevin Benavides kept his eyes in his road book as he opened the road for the rest of the motorcycle competitors in the first of the two-part marathon stage (only the riders are allowed to make repairs to their motorcycles in Stage 4 and 5). The flying Barreda shot past him at Checkpoint 1, but after that the Argentinian showed a lot of skill by staying on course and managing a fast pace to finish third in actual time before being bumped to second place because of Barreda’s penalty.
“The stage was fast, varied, stimulating and quite technical,” Benavides said. “I used a straightforward tactic: keeping my body and my bike in good shape because there won’t be any assistance tonight.”
Goncalves basically shadowed Benavides before the refueling stop, but a mistake inside the controlled speed area cost Goncalves some time. He managed to close back up the gap and finish not far behind Benavides, but Goncalves’ time was actually 4 minutes and 46 seconds quicker, and when Barreda’s time penalties were factored into the outcome, Goncalves was credited with his first stage win of the 2016 Dakar Rally.
“It was my first marathon stage with a fast opening day,” Goncalves said. “It was a good day, bringing the bike home in one piece was crucial. I’m happy for me and Honda.”
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Ruben Faria rebounded from the rough day he had yesterday to finish fourth on actual time and third after Barreda’s penalty, 5 minutes and 26 seconds off of Goncalves’ time. Behind Barreda, Red Bull KTM Dakar rookie Antoine Meo again held up the powerhouse team’s pride with a solid fifth-place finish. He is currently ninth overall, 13 minutes and 24 seconds off the lead time.
“It was a very long stage—my first marathon stage,” Meo said. “It was a bit hard because I had to save my tires, so I never went over 150 kilometers per hour. As a result, I lost 6 minutes to the winner, but I’m quite happy because my tires are still in good condition. I rode within my limits today. The Honda guys have water carriers, so they can push much harder because they’ll change their tires. It’ll be quite something if I manage to stay at the front every day. Navigating wasn’t too difficult, and I was in the mix every time, so I’m happy with how it went today.”
Team HRC’s American off-road star, Ricky Brabec, enjoyed his best finish yet in his Dakar Rally debut, coming home seventh in today’s stage and improving from 22nd overall to 17th overall.
2016 Dakar Rally
Jujuy-Jujuy, Argentina (Marathon Stage)
Results: January 6, 2016 (stage 4 of 13)
1. Paulo Goncalves (PRT)-Hon/3 hours, 49 minutes, 29 seconds
2. Kevin Benavides (ARG)-Hon/+00:04:46
3. Ruben Faria (PRT)-Hus/+00:05:26
4. Joan Barreda (ESP)-Hon/+00:05:34 (5-minute penalty)
5. Antoine Meo (FRA)-KTM/+00:06:44
6. Toby Price (AUS)-KTM/+00:06:48
7. Ricky Brabec (USA)-Hon/+00:07:45
8. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP)-KTM/+00:07:58
9. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL)-Hus/+00:08:05
10. Michael Metge (FRA)-Hon/+00:08:16
2016 Dakar Rally Overall Standing (after 4 of 13 stages)
1. Paulo Goncalves (PRT)-Hon/10 hours, 17 minutes, 27 seconds
2. Kevin Benavides (ARG)-Hon/+00:04:26
3. Joan Barreda (ESP)-Hon/+00:05:26
4. Stefan Svitko (SVK)-KTM/+00:08:08
5. Ruben Faria (PRT)-Hus/+00:08:15
6. Matthias Walkner (AUT)-KTM/+00:09:13
7. Pablo Quintanilla (CHL)-Hus/+00:10:35
8. Toby Price (AUS)-KTM/+00:10:43
9. Antoine Meo (FRA)-KTM/+00:13:24
10. Alain Duclos (FRA)-She/+00:14:01