Team HRC set the pace in Stage 1 of the 2014 Dakar Rally, with Joan Barreda earning the fastest time through the day’s special section. He was followed by Red Bull Factory KTM’s Marc Coma less than a minute behind while five-time Dakar champ Cyril Despres placed third aboard the Factory Yamaha.
Riders started the day with a 251-mile connection from the start line in Rosario, Argentina, followed by 111 miles of timed portion through soil/stone narrow track terrain. Following that, competitors logged an additional 224 miles of connections to make it to the day’s end-point in San Luis. The elevation change during the special took riders from under 1900 feet to over 6500 feet.
After 17 miles into the special section Barreda was already leading the way on the time card, though not by much as Coma and Despres were mere seconds off the Honda rider’s pace. Coma’s teammates, Chaleco Lopez and Jordi Villadoms, were fourth and fifth through the early stages. Team HRC rider Paulo Goncalves was gaining ground though and once he crossed the first checkpoint he had moved into fourth-place ahead of Lopez.
Rankings shuffled slightly through the remaining miles, though Barreda held fast against Coma and Despres to the finish. Samsung Sherco Rally Factory rider Alain Duclos crossed the line fourth-fastest, 1:56 off the leader with Goncalves trailing in fifth an additional 30 seconds back. Lopez sits sixth heading into Stage 2 followed by Duclos’ teammate, Juan Pedrero Garcia, in seventh. Despres’ teammate, Michael Metge, took eighth with Team HRC’s Sam Sunderland in ninth and Speedbrain Rally Team’s Alessandro Botturi in 10th.
Although reported incidents were few, Yamaha’s Oliver Pain suffered an off early in the special section, though he was able quickly remount and finished the day in 16th.
"It’s been a great day," said Barreda. "I’m really pleased for the first win with Honda, especially for the team that has worked so hard the whole year to produce this new bike. I’m really happy to have begun the Dakar like this. Today was a tough one. Few kilometers, but with a very difficult track full of rocks and very slippery. I managed to get off really well in the second part, keep up a good pace and get a result in the end."
2014 Dakar Rally Overall Standings after Stage 1
1. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 2:25:31
2. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 2:26:08
3. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 2:27:11
4. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco) 2:27:27
5. Paulo Goncalves, PRT (Honda) 2:27:56
6. Chaleco Lopez, CHL (KTM) 2:28:55
7. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (Sherco) 2:29:18
8. Michael Metge, FRA (Yamaha) 2:30:04
9. Sam Sunderland, GBR (Honda) 2:30:04
10. Alessandro Botturi, ITA (Speedbrain) 2:30:19