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Dakar : Barreda strikes first

The first special of this Dakar was won by a rampant Joan Barreda in Adrenarena de Paracas, near Pisco.

Day one, en route from the Peruvian capital Lima to the bivouac located around the city of Pisco, consisted of a total of 332 kilometres of stage, with only 84 km against the clock was enough to set up the first official race leader board of the 2019 edition of the Dakar Rally. 80% of the route took place in the dunes, on a stage which covered some dried up river beds that were navigationally more demanding.

Temperature soared as the sun beat down onto the dunes of Adrenarena, yet despite this, Joan Barreda was scorching too clocking up a great time of 57’36” to win the stage and become the provisional race leader.

Joan Barreda: “I’m very happy to start like this. Today was a short stage but where everyone went very fast. Without making mistakes I managed to push for the whole of the special. In the beginning it’s always a bit difficult to pick up the rhythm, but from kilometre 20 I started to improve and I was able to maintain a good rhythm during the whole stage with very good results. Now it’s time to think about the long stages where the way of preparing them changes. Tomorrow we will have to stay focused, since the pace will also be high and there is more chance of getting lost.”

Making a strong start to the 2019 Dakar Rally, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Pablo Quintanilla has secured a runner-up result on the opening stage.Putting in a stellar performance in the dunes of Peru on Monday, Pablo Quintanilla was less than two minutes behind the winner of the opening stage. Kicking off his two-week long adventure in positive fashion, the Chilean rally star is aiming for equally strong performances in the demanding stages that lie ahead.

Pablo Quintanilla: “I felt really good on the bike today. It wasn’t an easy stage. There were some sandy dunes, some dusty parts and some tricky navigation. I was pushing from the start and I felt confident all the way through the stage. It’s good to start this race with a second place and it gives me extra confidence for the rest of the rally. Today we had many waypoints to cross and many direction changes. It was good to get things started with the first stage. This year I am feeling very confident and I am enjoying the race a lot. The bike is running great and I am looking forward to the coming stages.”

Monster Energy Honda’s Ricky Brabec set the third fastest time 2’52” behind Barreda.

Ricky Brabec: “First stage of this Dakar with some very good sensations. The stage was not very long, but there were many dunes and a lot of people. I have found the whole special went pretty well: there was a bit of fesh-fesh but I’m very happy to be here and am prepared to give it my best shot over the coming days.”

Enjoying a steady pace from start to finish, Van Beveren posted the fourth best time in the day’s timed special. Less than three minutes behind the provisional overall leader, the Yamalube Yamaha Rally rider is now looking ahead to the coming stages of the rally.

Adrien Van Beveren: “We got this tricky opening stage out of the way and I’m happy with my result for the day. Today we got a small taste of what lies ahead. The start of the Dakar is always tricky and there’s some extra pressure. Today I tried to control this pressure and avoid mistakes by any means. I felt good racing in the dunes and my Yamaha was working great. As the race goes on, I want to gradually improve my pace while also staying 100% focused on the tracks and my navigation. Tomorrow we have a long stage and I’m looking forward to going back out there in the dunes.”

Keen to make up for his retirement from the 2018 event, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Sam Sunderland put in a strong performance on the opening day’s timed special to claim the fifth fastest time – just under three minutes down on the leader. Choosing to navigate his way through the stage rather than following existing tracks, the 2017 Dakar champion rode an intelligent day and is looking forward to tomorrow.

Sam Sunderland: “I’m pleased with the opening stage, I felt good on the bike and happy with my pace. We had to be careful as the less experienced riders had opened the stage, I think some of the top guys took the risk and pushed the tracks, but I played it safe and navigated myself. It maybe cost me a little time but I think it was the best option. I caught a few riders ahead of me and lost some time in one of the rivers but I didn’t take any risks out there – we have a lot more days to come.”

Putting in a brave performance, just 12 seconds down on teammate Sunderland, Toby Price successfully completed the stage despite nursing the wrist he broke just weeks beforehand. Aware of the task ahead of him, Price plans to take the rally day-by-day.

Toby Price: “The first day has gone well. My wrist is giving me some pain so I know the next nine days are going to be tough. But I can’t complain, I’m happy with sixth place today. Conditions out there were ok, you just have to be careful in the dunes that you don’t send it off one of the big drops – I can’t afford to risk anything like that so I need to be a little careful. The bike is running sweet, so thanks to Joe my mechanic for that. It’s going to be a long one tomorrow but I’ll give it my best.”

Displaying the number one plate on his KTM 450 RALLY, Matthias Walkner set off from Lima as the very last rider away. The Austrian made use of his experience to navigate the well-ridden route ahead of him to claim a solid seventh place, putting him in an excellent position for Tuesday’s stage two.

Matthias Walkner: “Today was a good day, it feels great to start the rally and I felt better than I imagined after being a little ill over the last few days. The opening riders made a good job of the navigation and most of the top guys are all at a similar pace, but it was really fast out there today. As well as the sand dunes there were some rivers and rocky sections – with the wind and the riders in front there was a lot of dust and that made things even more tricky. The bike is working well and we’ll continue to work on settings as the rally goes on. Overall, it’s been an encouraging day.”

Kevin Benavides hampered with the task of being the first of the elite riders to open the track, was ahead for much of the day but the Argentinean ended up with the eighth fastest time on the day, one place ahead of Chilean Jose Ignacio Cornejo, ninth some 5 ’22 adrift of Barreda.

Kevin Benavides: “It was a very good first stage to warm up. I felt good, comfortable and I think I did a good job. We had to leave in reverse order and I left a little behind, with which I had some problems to overtake other motorcycles such as the area with a river where there was a lot of dust. Then, in the dunes, I was able to enjoy it a bit more. I felt very fast. I also found tracks that are not very reliable, but in general the navigation of this first stage was fairly easy.”

Jose Ignacio Cornejo: “First day over. A short first stage to warm up and let the bike run. In general I felt very comfortable on the bike. There is still a lot of race ahead, so today was a good way to start this Dakar.”

The second Yamaha powered rider inside the top 10 on stage one was Xavier de Soultrait. The Yamalube Yamaha Rally team rider enjoyed a mistake free performance on Monday, which put him 10th in the event’s provisional overall standings after stage one. Xavier’s goal for the coming stages is to remain within striking distance to the leaders in the provisional overall results.

Xavier de Soultrait: “Everything went well for me today. It’s really important to ride clever to shake off these nerves in the beginning of this race. I spent quite some time the last few weeks planning my strategy for this race and now I’m happy to put it into action. My plan for these first few stages is to remain close to the leading group of riders. My bike is working great in the dunes and I am doing my best to avoid costly mistakes. If I can control my pace for this first week of the race, then I can push more on week two.”

1 BARREDA Joan 5 SPA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda 57’36
2 QUINTANILLA Pablo 6 CHI Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Husqvarna +01’34
3 BRABEC Ricky 15 USA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +02’52
4 VAN BEVEREN Adrien 4 FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +02’55
5 SUNDERLAND Sam 14 GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +02’56
6 PRICE Toby 3 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +03’08
7 WALKNER Matthias 1 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +03’12
8 BENAVIDES Kevin 47 ARG Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +04’00
9 CORNEJO José Ignacio 10 CHI Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +05’22
10 DE SOULTRAIT Xavier 18 FRA Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team Yamaha +05’54

The 2019 Dakar Rally continues today with the second of 10 stages. Featuring a total distance of more than 500km, stage two includes a demanding 342km long timed special.


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