Barreda takes the Honda CRF450 RALLY to a third victory
Three stages of the Morocco Rally completed, and three wins for the Honda CRF450 RALLY in the bag. Joan Barreda came in first today and retakes top-spot on the overall leaderboard. TEAM HRC team-mate Sam Sunderland ran the fourth fastest time and Paulo Gonçalves finished sixth and is second in the overall standings.
Joan ‘Bang Bang’ Barreda once again proves that he’s a force to be reckoned with. The Spanish rider appeared to be at ease even on such a navigationally tricky stage as today’s. Erg Cheggaga and Lago Iriki gave him the chance to really put the Honda CRF450 RALLY through its paces. The rider from Castellón thus takes back the top position on the leaderboard. British rider Sam Sunderland too, was pleased to be back in the dunes, finishing in a fine fourth position which keeps him in fifth overall place after three days of racing.
Portuguese Paulo Gonçalves had his work cut out as he started the special from the front, but in spite of this was able to finish in good sixth place. Gonçalves is now second in the overall standings.
TEAM HRC has once again kept its components up in the top eight overall positions, with Argentine Javier Pizzolito putting in a fine performance in eighth place and Hélder Rodrigues ninth, penalized with an fifteen place start after an electrical problem yesterday, which saw him forced to overtake various riders amidst the heavy dust that they were generating.
Australia’s Grabham ninth overall
Caselli on the attack
Coma in action in Morocco
Second place in Stage 3 for Lopez
Coma maintains third overall after Morocco Rally Stage 3
Red Bull KTM factory rider Marc Coma came home in fifth place after the three hour ride in the dunes of Mhamid in Stage Three of the OilLibya Rally of Morocco on Wednesday to maintain his third overall position at the half way mark of the rally.
While factory teammate Chaleco Lopez of Chile finished second in Stage Three, Coma was fifth, just over six minutes behind leader and fellow Spaniard Joan Barreda. KTM’s three-times Dakar Rally winner currently has a deficit of around seven minutes in the overall progressive standings behind the leader Barreda and Portuguese rival Paolo Goncalves.
It was a disappointing day for Coma’s teammate Ruben Faria who after a decision made jointly by the rider and the team, withdrew from the competition. Faria broke his hand in a crash in the Dos Sertoes Rally in Brazil in August and is still experiencing pain from the injury. Teammate Kurt Caselli fared better finishing tenth in Stage Three and is currently twelfth overall after picking up a 20 minute penalty on the opening day. KTM support rider Ben Grabham, riding for KTM Australia was twelfth on Wednesday and continues to maintain a strong overall ninth. Riaan van Niekerk, KTM factory rider from South Africa moved up one place in the overall standings to fifteenth place after Stage Three.
Wednesday’s stage included a 250km selective sector between two liaisons of 65 and 98 km. Riders started out on a fast rolling track before descending into a valley to follow the Cheggaga sand plains as far a the flat areas around Lake Iriki. The return trip posed tricky navigation through spectacular dune landscape.
The rally is also the final round of the World Cross Countries Rallies Championship and Coma is the current points leader but has only a narrow three-point lead over Goncalves for the 2013 world title. The KTM Factory Team are also testing and fine tuning the new KTM 450 Rally factory bike, making its first competitive appearance in Morocco and making the final preparations for the 2014 Dakar Rally in January.
Stage Four presents a longer 295 km selective sector in between two shorter liaisons of 49 and 17km respectively. Riders can expect plenty of navigation in a sea of sand and an ascent to Erfoud, just the kind of territory that Coma names as his favorite.
Stage Three: (Liaison 65 km, selective sector 250 km, liaison 98 km)
Results (unofficial): 1, Joan Barreda, Spain, Honda, 2 hours 43.57 2, Chaleco Lopez, Chile, KTM, 2.29 3, Jeremias Israel-Esquere, Chile, Speedbrain 4.39
4, Sam Sunderland, UK, Honda, 4.43 5, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM, 6.17 6, Paolo Goncalves, Portugal, Honda, 7.44
7, Javier Pizzolito, Argentina, Honda, 8.25
8, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Honda, 8.27
9, Alessandro Botturi, Italy, Speedbrain, 11.55 10, Kurt Caselli, USA, KTM, 12.09
Overall Results after Stage Three 1, Barreda at 8 hours 03.44
2, Goncalves at 7.27 3, Coma at 7.41
4, Lopez at 10.52 5, Sunderland 14.16 Other KTM 9, Grabham 46.56
12, Caselli 54.17 (20 minutes penalty for missing WP on Monday)
15. van Niekerk , 1 hour 14.25