Helder Rodrigues pulls out all the stops and takes a well-deserved win in a decisive sixth stage of the Rally Dakar 2015. Team HRC make it to Dakar’s first rest-day with a highly impressive first week scorecard.
Helder Rodrigues stepped back into the limelight today proving himself to be the man of the moment. Displaying all the skills necessary to negotiate mountains, hard track, potholed paths, taxing navigation and a full range of hazards, the Portuguese ace, nevertheless, claimed the rally’s sixth stage on a zippy 318 kilometre timed special that wound up in Iquique.
In doing so, Helder leapfrogs into fourth overall position, in a race currently led by Joan Barreda. The plucky Spaniard, starting out in second place, cut down the gap with Marc Coma in the first kilometres, and made it to the finish-line with the sixth best time. Barreda furthers his overall advantage to 12’27’’.
In between Helder and Joan, in third place on today’s card and overall, lies Paulo Gonçalves, just five minutes off second spot. Jeremias Israel’s fall a couple of days ago, has started to show with the Chilean unable to attack, and clearly not at his physical best. Laia Sanz, can be content with the way the stage played out, and is now a hair’s breadth away from the top fifteen.
Honda South America Rally Team round off a productive first week at the Dakar. Daniel Gouet and Javier Pizzolito finished in 18th and 19th positions. The Chilean leads the team in the general standings in 18th.
The sixth stage ground to a halt in Iquique, which will play host to the caravan’s well-earned day of rest. Team HRC will take advantage of the break to give the bikes a once-over and prepare for the first of the Dakar’s two marathon stages this Sunday. The participants will be isolated from their mechanics, and any repairs to the Honda CRF450 RALLY machines, will have to be undertaken by HRC riders themselves.
For this exceptional part of the race, marked by the bivouac stop in Iquique and the Bolivian podium in Uyuni, separate rest days will be observed: 10th January for the motorcycles and quads and 12th January for cars and trucks. However, on Sunday 11th January, all the categories will be back on the race, competing in a different stage. Everyone will have taken part in a marathon stage by then.