The penultimate day of racing at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge failed to produce the kind of results that Team HRC had been hoping for; Barreda, opening the track, took sixth place; Brabec finished seventh. Paulo Gonçalves was unable to make it through the special stage.
Team HRC, who had endeavoured to keep all options of a final win open in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, rested their hopes in Paulo Gonçalves setting out from a favourable starting-position. Nevertheless, it wasn’t to be. The Portuguese rider’s podium bid has thwarted by an electrical hitch that saw him unable to complete the timed special. Some 43 km into the 258 km race, Paulo was forced out due to an electrical problem which he was unable to sort out. The Portuguese rider will be disappointed to not defend his previous Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2014 title. With the navigation in the dunes, the strategies and some of the most extreme weather encountered, this is one of the rally raid calendar’s most taxing events with riders having to endure temperatures of up to 50 degrees.
Joan Barreda got the show underway, leading the charge, which meant having to navigate his way ahead of the ensuing pack whom he led for a greater part of the 258.1 kilometre special. With the pursuers hot on the heels of the Honda CRF450 RALLY, the Spaniard was finally forced to concede in spite of having upped the pace considerably over the final stretches. Barreda settled for a sixth place as the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2015 heads into tomorrow’s final stage.
Tucked in behind Barreda was a very consistent Ricky Brabec with a seventh place finish who leapfrogs two places on the overall leaderboard. The plucky debutante now lies in fifth in the general standings in addition to leading the Rally juniors.
Paulo Goncalves – Stage: 35 Overall: 35
After the great stage that I won yesterday, I put myself second and got off to a good start from a nice start-position and everything was going really well. I was ahead at kilometre 43 when the bike stopped. It was an electrical problem and I wasn’t able to get it started again. Let’s see what happened and how it can be fixed so that it doesn’t happen again in a more important race.
Joan Barreda – Stage: 6th Overall: 15th
Everything turned out today as we had predicted that it would: I opened the track and this set me back. Right from the start, with complicated dunes it was a difficult ride with tough navigation. But I made it through to the end problem-free, raising the pace in the final part. It’s a pity for Paulo – really bad luck. But we have to look on the bright side – it’s a really hard, demanding test, and it will help us to face the future.
Ricky Brabec – Stage: 7th Overall: 5th
I had a seventh position start so I started from the rear with all the fast guys up front. I tried to catch up as fast as I could and maybe reach Joan and Paulo. But next thing I know I found Paulo at the bottom of the dune with a problem on the bike and unfortunately we couldn’t do anything to get it started. Other than that the day was good. It was hard to see the top of the dunes with the breeze and the position of the sun. So, I’m glad to have finished, there’s one more day tomorrow and I’m going to push tomorrow.
Wolfgang Fischer – Team HRC Team Manager
Technology was against us and Paulo had to stop at the beginning of the stage and couldn’t get the bike started again in the soft dunes. Ricky stopped to help him but even together it was not possible so Paulo had to abandon the stage and lost the chance of getting a good result like Joan had done a few days ago. The only one left now fighting for a position is Ricky doing well and moving up to fifth position overall and he will try and finish tomorrow in a decent way. Now, back to work.