Joan Barreda accomplishes the mission of fending off challengers in the fifth stage of the Rally Dakar 2015. The Spaniard aboard the Honda CRF450 RALLY keeps his distance from his closest rival, as fellow Team HRC members also remain among the front-runners.
The caravan continued to snake its way across the South American continent, leaving Copiapó behind, with destination Antofagasta on the Pacific coast, as a hazardous, rapid-paced stage full of broken up track and fesh-fesh, sped its way across the Atacama desert.
It was Joan Barreda, as yesterday’s stage winner, who set off from the front this morning with a clear objective of consolidating his overall lead and minimizing risks. He was eventually reached by Marc Coma, as the two continued their now habitual duel, finishing the stage together.
Team HRC riders Paulo Gonçalves, Hélder Rodrigues and Jeremías Israel all experienced various types of setbacks over the 458 km distance today, but were nevertheless all able to improve on their overall standings.
The day’s fourth position for Paulo helps solidify his third overall spot, with both Hélder and Jeremías finishing tucked in behind this year’s world championship runner-up.
A prudent Laia Sanz continues to keep up recent form, finishing 21st on the day, and retaking 17th on the overall leaderboard.
The three Honda South America Rally Team riders, Javier Pizzolito, Daniel Gouet and Jean Azevedo, likewise, put in consistent performances among the front-runners. The Argentine rider was once again the best of the bunch, reliably up in the first fifteen of the stage, and 13th overall. In the general standings Gouet lies highest in 21st.
STAGE 6 – Friday, 9th January
Antofagasta (CHI) – Iquique (CHI)
Liaison: 369 km
Special stage: 319 km
A celebration in Iquique
The route will then climb up the Pacific coast towards Iquique. The motorcycles will cover a few extra kilometres as part of the special stage: a detour will take them into endurance-type terrain and onto mountain ridges with views over the sea. All the competitors will then explore the dunes which run alongside and dominate the coastline. But they won’t arrive at the bivouac via the famous descent. For the first time, the half-way point in the race will be marked on a podium in the centre of Iquique. The encounter between riders and their fans will be emotional, following the earthquake which affected the region at the start of the year.