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Barreda & Gonclaves to HRC Honda Rally?
Expected New HRC Honda Rally Riders To Be Announced
According to a report published by WorldRallyRaid, Joan Barreda and Paulo Gonclaves will leave Speedbrain Husqvarna to join the factory Honda rally team. Helder Rodrigues and Javier Pizzolito will complete the team. We expect this to be officially announced on May 30th.
All of this appears to fit the most probable scenario, considering the situations of the teams involved. HRC made a big to do about their return to rally racing for 2012 and the 2013 Dakar. But for all their efforts, the final Dakar results were disappointing. In typical Honda fashion, the solution is to go out and hire the best guns for the job.
Originally it was assumed that Cyril Despres would be the top choice for Honda. But from what I can learn, while there was discussion among the parties, they never got very close to making a deal. In retrospect Despres may have intended to use Honda as a bargaining tool against KTM. If that was the case, it all backfired as Heinz Kinigadner made clear in an interview published here at Enduro360 that they would not be coerced by any outside factors in rider deals.
With the BMW sale of Husky to KTM, it was clear that the Speedbrain rally team was in a tight spot. As a pet project of BMW Mottorad, they had presumably worked with a generous budget from day one and developed the team and bike into a winning package.
BMW and the rally team officially parted ways on March 12th. With BMW out of the picture, where would the team turn for support? A deal with KTM seemed unlikely. The Husky TE449RR rally bike would not play a part in future KTM race or production plans.
Speedbrain has recently introduced a customer version of their successful rally bike, the Speedbrain 450RR. But with a squad of the very talented and presumably expensive racers to feed and no big league sponsor for support, it seemed inevitable that something would have to give. Outside of KTM, who is still flush with riders, Honda remains the only big player in the rally game.
With this announcement, all of the big pieces seem to have fallen into place. It will be interesting to see what becomes of Speedbrain, if they can financially continue at a world class level with their remaining team and riders, which includes American Quinn Cody. I presume that they probably have a vast cache of spare parts from the BMW program. As neither BMW or KTM have any future interest in the 449 platform, Speedbrain was probably given or sold everything at fire sale prices.
As for HRC, they gain two of the most talented and experienced riders in the game. More so, they are already their own two man team, with many rally races spent in support of each other. Together they may be well worth more than a solo deal for Despres could have been.