Team HRC haven’t thrown in the towel yet, today scoring a remarkable one-two as the rally heads towards the final-day showdown. Joan Barreda sneaked the victory ahead of team-mate Paulo Gonçalves, which seats the two in podium places.
The Honda CRF450 RALLY riders started today’s escapade from advantageous rear positions. There ensued a high-speed hunt as the Honda buddies imposed themselves on the rest of the rivals, who saw their surplus time whittled down by the end of the day. Joan caught up with Paulo and the two chased down the leaders and track-openers. By refuelling they had reached the main group who they then tracked until the end of the special stage, crossing the line virtually together.
The triumph moves Joan Barreda up to second overall place and to within eight minutes of the leader Marc Coma. Portuguese rider Gonçalves lies third, one and a half minutes off his Spanish side-kick and 8:29 behind the Sealine front-runner.
The 2015 Sealine Cross-Country Qatar Rally winds up with 365 kilometres of special stage tomorrow.
Joan Barreda – STAGE: 1ST OVERALL: 2ND
Today was a great day. I started out from further back and I pushed hard the first 150 km with Paulo. We were able to catch the other riders up before we got to the refuelling and we rode with them until the end. It was a really good stage. Tomorrow is the final day and I’d like to be able to make up some time, but it will be difficult.
Paulo Goncalves – STAGE: 2ND OVERALL: 3RD
We had another good day today. We started out from nice positions. I was setting a fine pace, good enough to catch the leading group. I managed to make up more time. Tomorrow will be important to keep the podium places. The bike is working at 100% and everything that we’ve tried is going really well. It’s crucial to stay as focused as possible to not make any mistakes on the final day.
Wolfgang Fischer – Team HRC Team Manager
Stage four at Qatar was rewarded with a double victory for Team HRC. I think it’s time to say something about the new rules concerning the starting order that we have for this season, which are a bit complicated to understand and to work with – especially for someone who is outside the rally following the race. The rule itself states that the starting order for tomorrow’s stage is decided by the result of today’s stage. The first three riders have the priority to choose the starting position the next day, out of the top six places. So, usually, with a lot of sand and navigation the rider will choose that last place in the top six and consequently the second will choose fifth and the third will choose fourth; riders four, five and six will have to choose starting places three, two and one. What makes it so difficult is that sometimes riders don’t want to be in the top six or have to push to be in the top three. What we saw today was the result of the three days before, to have the possibility to win back the time that they couldn’t make up before due to the starting positions. So now we have been able to win back valuable time and move up in the overall standings to second and third place. Now, today’s result gives us a good starting position for tomorrow, but not enough of a starting gap from the leader Marc Coma to close the gap and beat him. So enough theory. Tomorrow, full gas, and let’s see how it ends.
Results Stage 4
Provisional Standings after Stage 4