Team HRC’s Joan Barreda scored his first overall win of the 2014 Cross-Country Rallies World Championship in Qatar, edging ahead of Red Bull KTM’s Marc Coma in the final stage of the Sealine Cross-Country Rally. Barreda’s teammate, Helder Rodrigues, finished the five-leg competition in third.
Barreda kicked things off with the Stage 1 win, putting more than one minute between himself and second-place finisher Coma. The following day saw Barreda slip back slightly, losing his advantage after a sixth-place finish. He dropped to the runner-up spot behind Coma but followed that up in Stage 3 with a commanding performance which saw the Honda ace regain the overall lead. The back-and-forth continued in Stage 4 when Coma caught and passed Barreda on adjusted time, but only slightly, entering the final day of competition with a 41-second lead. Barreda closed the slight deficit in the last stage, and added more than a minute to his lead over Coma before the checkers.
“I'm really pleased,” said Barreda. “Finally, after a whole week of really hard work, I've made it. I'm really happy for the victory, for the team, and for Honda. We have won here in Qatar, and we are leading the world championship too. This is a just reward for all the hard work that the team has done.”
“We added some good points for the World Championship and we again did a good job,” said Coma. “We had a consistent race with a good pace, just as we did in the first round in Abu Dhabi. It is very difficult to be competitive in all the stages because they are really different races. These rallies are also short and it is only the small details that decide the outcome. We tried right up until the end of the last stage but it was not been possible to break away from the group of riders.”
Rodrigues actually scored the Stage 5 win, giving him the advantage on Coma’s teammate, Jordi Viladoms, who finished in fourth. Barreda’s teammate, Paulo Goncalves, took fifth, unable to overcome a deficit incurred during the opening stage of the Sealine Rally. Goncalves is the defending Cross-Country Rallies champion and scored the top-step overall at the previous contest in Abu Dhabi.
“After three consecutive wins in the world championship, I wasn't able to finish on the podium here. But I'm very happy with the job,” said Goncalves. “The final result may not be so good but I've got speed, a great bike, a terrific team, and I'm fighting for victory in every rally... We've had a very tough race here with some complicated tracks and some difficult navigation. If I forget about the error in the first stage, I would have been in the running for another victory. We've got to stay on this course, and keep working towards the goal in the next race.”
KTM UAC’s Mohammed Albalooshi took sixth, crossing the line over three hours adrift of the leader, followed by Abu Issa’s Mohammed Abu Issa in seventh and Poland National’s Rafal Sonik in eighth.
Sealine Cross-Country Rally Results 2014
1. Joan Barreda (Honda) 20:28'46
2. Marc Coma (KTM) +01'23
3. Helder Rodrigues (Honda) +01'50
4. Jordi Viladoms (KTM) +07'19
5. Paulo Goncalves (Honda) +08'40
6. Mohammed Albalooshi (KTM) +03:12'36
7. Mohammed Abu Issa (Yamaha) +04:15'10
8. Rafal Sonik (Honda) +04:47'26
9. Julián Villarrubia (Honda) +04:59'39
10. Jakub Piatek (KTM) +05:30'06