Speedbrain Rally Team's Paulo Goncalves took the overall win at the 2013 Rally Dos Sertoes in Brazil.
The fifth stop on the 2013 FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship schedule took riders to South America for the Rally Dos Sertoes in Brazil. KTM's Marc Coma and Speedbrain Rally Team's Paulo Goncalves engaged in battle throughout the grueling event, contending with other rally heavyweights such as five-time Dakar Rally champion Cyril Despres, who made his debut aboard his new Yamaha Racing YZ450F Rally bike, as well as KTM rally regulars Jakub Przygonski and Ruben Faria. When the dust finally settled is was Goncalves who walked away with the overall win, over 25 minutes ahead of Despres in second. Coma completed the rally 30 minutes behind Goncalves to finish third.
Goncalves started strong, coming out first in the short prologue section and finishing fastest in Stage 2, just 47 seconds ahead of Coma. Riders encountered fast sections and rocky, technical terrain as well a fair amount of sand, challenging the entirety of their skill over the 159-mile stage, 52 miles of which was timed. Despres maintained his presence in the mix as well, finishing in fourth.
Coma made a push the following day, aided by Goncalves’ error which took him into a barbed wire fence early in the race, to take the stage win and move into the overall lead. Despres followed Coma in second-place in the stage, but Goncalves held strong to third, remaining second overall slightly under two-minutes behind Coma’s combined time.
“The terrain was suited perfectly to my Speedbrain 450,” said Goncalves after the stage. “Then I missed a corner and ended up in that barb wire fence. My bike got completely wrapped and my gear was torn into pieces. I was really lucky not to get injured. Coma got by me but all in all it was a good day.”
Despres took his turn out front in Stage 4, winning his first rally stage with his new Yamaha team a slim 24 seconds ahead of Coma. Goncalves trailed Coma in third and dropped back one position in the overall rankings behind Despres.
“Today we were rewarded for the months of hard work the team have put in with a first stage victory here in Brazil on the Rally Dos Sertoes,” said Despres after his Stage 4 win. “It’s a great boost for all of us, not only for those of us present on the race but also for everybody at Yamaha who believed in the project and who have been so solidly behind us. Obviously it isn’t a Dakar stage victory, let alone an outright Dakar victory, but it is an important milestone on the road to that ultimate ambition and I must admit today’s result has a special flavor to it.”
Stage 5 saw riders embark on a tough marathon stage, 183 miles of which was timed, and Goncalves put in a decisive performance that earned him the stage win and moved him back to second-place overall behind Coma. The KTM ace trailed Goncalves by one minute in the stage and Despres finished third, an additional minute and a half behind.
Disaster struck Coma in Stage 6, when a rear wheel issue saw him lose significant time, happening in the second portion of the marathon stage where no mechanical assistance was allowed. He finished the day in 25th, dropping to seventh overall. Despres earned the top spot in the stage and moved to the top of the overall rankings ahead of Goncalves in second and Przygonski, who jumped to third.
“Given that I lost a place overall yesterday it might have seemed strange, but I was really delighted with how everything went,” said Despres. “As we were on a marathon stage we weren’t allowed to change our tires last night so the priority was to preserve the tires as much as possible while losing as little time as possible. And if you could see the condition of my rear Michelin compared with everybody else’s tires you’d understand why was so happy. You couldn’t say it was like new but I had a lot more tread left than the others.”
Coma couldn’t be shaken, however, and he rallied back to take the win in Stage 7, moving himself back to third overall.
“It was a good stage and we were able to make up positions,” remarked Coma. “It was the toughest stage of the rally, with many competitive kilometers and with lots of sand, that always demands more in terms of riding. It was very difficult in the first part because there was a lot of dust. It was also difficult to overtake the many riders who were in front of me. But after I got in front of them I was more or less on my own and I was able to find my rhythm and set my own pace.”
Goncalves gained the overall lead in Stage 7 as well, where he’d remain through the remaining stages for the win.
“This is a very important victory for me and the entire Speedbrain team after coming a close second on the podium at the last several rounds,” said Goncalves at the end of the rally. “I have no words for this win today, I am so happy.”
Rally Dos Sertoes Overall Results 2013:
1. Paulo Goncalves (Speedbrain) 30:27:38
2. Cyril Despres (Yamaha) +00:25:00
3. Marc Coma (KTM) +00:30:52
4. Jean Azevedo (Honda) +01:20:00
5. Jakub Przygonski (KTM) +01:31:36