Goncalves takes victory as teammate Barreda penalised again
With the 4th day and the first marathon stage the competitors faced the first real test of the Dakar 2016 that started “easier and less navigated ” than the previous editions.
The 630 km loop around San Salvador de Jujuy with 429 km of timed section was the first moment of truth on the rally: a long and fast stage at 3,500 metres of altitude on a varied ground with fast tracks, sandy paths and rocky terrains.
With all the assistance vehicles heading to Bolivia, the riders had to preserve their bikes as no work is allowed at the Jujuy bivouac.
It was another good day for Team HRC with Barreda and Goncalves setting a very fast pace and clinching the first and second places before the Spaniard was once again caught speeding, resulting in a 5-minute penalty that pushed him down to fourth place in the stage and third in the overall. Despite the disappointment, Honda could celebrate 1-2 also today with Goncalves, the winner of the stage and Benavides, the young talent of Honda Argentina, in second position. Another good performance for Rubes Faria (Husqvarna), third.
“It was a long special at more than 400 kilometres with a very high average speed” said Goncalves, “There wasn’t a lot of navigation but I was in doubt at one point and I lost a few seconds. We arrived without any problems and everything will be ready to set off for the second part of the marathon stage that will head us in Bolivia. The teamwork has been excellent”.
While the Honda riders seem to push already at their maximum, the KTM guys follow a more conservative riding to preserve the bike and the energy in this first part of the marathon stage.
“These first stages are really fast, that it’s easy to make a mistake. I preferred to warm up a bit and get into the race rhythm. Now I feel comfortable and I can start to push”, said the 5-time enduro world champion Antoine Meo, Meo 5th at + 6’44 . “We ride at an average speed at 130 km/h, which is a lot when you have to open the throttle and read the notes of the road book at the same time”.
“I didn’t push at the maximum to preserve the tyres and the machine as we won’t have the assistance team and the bikes will be in parc fermé. I’m satisfied with my result, the race is still long”, said Toby Price (KTM) who finished 6th at +6’48
It was a difficult day for Pela Renet, who suffered a bad incident was transported by helicopter to the hospital.
Barreda looked disappointed as he received the second penalty in two days, 6 minutes so far that can affect his final performance as all the riders were
We kept up a really fast pace in this stage. Kevin Benavides opened the track and was very speedy, as was Paulo. I tried to catch him up and got past Svitko. In the last kilometres I was riding behind the KTM riders and I had to slow things down due to the dust. We had a great day and took care of the bikes, plus there were no falls or problems that could compromise tomorrow’s start. Now it’s time to rest and prepare the second part of the marathon stage.