Dakar: Honda claim 'moral victory’ after illegal fuelling penalty

Published: 15 January 2017

The Monster Energy Honda squad have claimed a ‘moral victory’ in the 2017 Dakar Rally, which saw four stage wins and the fastest time overall not enough to win the race for Spaniard Joan Barreda after an hour-long penalty for him and his teammates early in the race.

Penalised for refuelling their CRF450 machines outside one of the race’s designated refuelling areas – a move that the HRC-backed team referred to as ‘an entry in the rulebook that invited different interpretations,’ Barreda and teammates Michael Metge, Paulo Goncalves and Ricky Brabac were all penalised an hour.

But despite the results, Barreda, who ended up finishing the two-week race in fifth overall, 45 minutes behind British winner Sam Sunderland, says he’s came to terms with the result.

The end of the rally has arrived and the sensation that you’ve spent the whole year working towards this race. Here, I did everything that I could, but we were unable to reach the goal. But from the inside the feeling is a good one. I feel calm because I’ve given it my best shot and have done the best that I possibly could.

“Over the whole year I’ve worked really hard and that shows. Last year we made some changes to get to the Dakar even stronger and these have been very positive: we have developed a really magnificent bike which hasn’t given the slightest problem throughout the race and the team has worked really well together.

“Ricky has taken a giant leap forward; Mika was always very close and Paulo was always in the top positions. We have a really strong team and we have to be pleased about that.”

Team Manager Roberto Boasso was keen to downplay the trials faced by the team too, though, instead focusing on the positives from the race.

“The Dakar 2017 has finished after an intense fortnight which has been particularly long for all the team’s activity. The riders have done a really great job. I would like to thank the whole of the technical crew, the Japanese members of HRC and the entire team. I’m very happy as we have shown that we have a team that can win the race and I hope this is the start of a future that will be filled with satisfaction.”