Husqvarnas Lead The Way
“It was a beautiful special stage, something from a real rally raid,” commented recognizance scout Stephan Le Bail, outside the Abu Mingar bivouac as he prepared to set off again for his work as rally trailblazer. “It’s a real pleasure to find such symbolic situations: sands, rows of dunes, navigation…,” added Pierre Lartigue, charged with driving the recognizance car.
And the competitors got more than their fair share of sand today. Joan Barreda seems to be riding on another planet aboard his Husqvarna, and he was dominant once again today: “The bike was working very well again, and it’s the same one we will use for the Dakar,” the Catalan rider affirmed. The competition, and the KTM riders in particular, again seemed shocked by the outright speed of the Husqvarna.
As was the case in stage one, Paulo Goncalves was second fastest, 2’24” behind, completing Husqvarnas third double in the first three stages. Jakub Przygonski was third fastest, but his teammate Marek Dabrowski failed to finish the stage, breaking both of his wrists in a crash. “Kuba” commented at the finish: “The special was beautiful, complete, difficult, and had all the necessary ingredients from our sport. The Husqvarnas are very fast, and it’s hard to match their pace.”
Suffering some bad luck on the day was Jordi Viladoms: the engine in his KTM began to lose power some 150 km into the stage. “After refueling, we tried to fix the problem at the assistance point, but we couldn’t get it done. Luckily I managed to finish the special stage, riding on my own.” The engine will now be changed by his mechanic, giving the Catalan the opportunity to defend his second place in the World Championship standings.
Barreda now leads the overall standings with a gap of 5’41” over his teammate Goncalves and 12’48” on Przygonski.