Countdown. Revs up. Clutch out. And with a roar the Dakar Rally exploded into life today. With three riders finishing the special in the top six, the race for Team HRC is most definitely underway.

Yesterday, was a chance for the riders to lap up a warm welcome from the thousands of fans gathered along the streets of Buenos Aires. Today, an altogether harsher greeting awaited as the first stage took to the track. Team HRC’s five riders all finished in the first seventeen positions.

The first of the Dakar’s specials, at only 175 kilometres, was barely enough to unfold any significant differences, but already the pecking order is beginning to establish itself. Paulo Gonçalves rode a cracking pace aboard the Honda CRF450 RALLY, to finish in second, just five seconds behind the special’s winner.

Joan Barreda, after setting off in the special at Baradero from second place, put in a fairly effortless and prudent performance. The Spaniard claimed fourth spot, 1’41 off Sunderland.

Jeremías Israel stormed his way to a final sixth place, tucked in behind the leaders, and Laia Sanz got acquainted with the track, riding a trouble-free special to finish in seventeenth.

Argentine Javier Pizzolito finished top out of the Honda South America Rally Team riders posting sixteenth place.

The squad arrived at the bivouac in Villa Carlos Paz after a lengthy liaison section of around 500 kilometres, where preparations for the second stage are already underway. The stage will be disputed tomorrow between Villa Carlos Paz and San Juan. The first dunes of the Rally Dakar 2015 will be there to welcome the participants.

STAGE 2 – Monday, 5th January
Villa Carlos Paz (ARG) – San Juan (ARG)

107 km
Special stage: 518 km




Dakar Rally 2015 Team HRC Stage 1
Dakar Rally 2015 Behind the Scene Stage 1
Paulo Goncalves

Paulo Goncalves

2nd / + 00'05

The first special served as a good warm-up. 175 kilometres and 700 liaison. It went well, with a second place, which was great. But it’s a very long and hard rally. You must have great team-work, be very focused, not make any mistakes and keep the mechanical and physical aspect in as good shape as possible, as this is not only a very long race, but a very tough one too.

Team HRC
Joan Barreda

Joan Barreda

4th / + 1'41

A very quick stage, we got up to some high speeds, and it was difficult, as there was some damaged track due to the rain of the last couple of days. I caught up with Marc, but I stayed behind, taking it calmly. Let’s see how the next few stages go.

Team HRC
Jeremias Israel

Jeremias Israel

4th / + 2'16

It was a good, relaxed stage. We had to do 1000 kilometres, but the track was very fast and we had to accelerate to not lose time. I picked up quite a bit of dust from the other riders, and that brought down the pace, so I was able to take it easier and not take any chances. I think that it’s a good position to tackle tomorrow’s stage from.

Team HRC
Helder Rodrigues

Helder Rodrigues

14th / + 3'32

The first day has been very fast for everyone. There are a lot of riders in a short space of time, and we shouldn’t forget that the race has just started. Everyone has pushed hard. Me too. In the second half of the special I tried out the top speed and… it was incredible! Maybe I didn’t start out as well as I could have, but I’m not that far behind first place, and it’s wide open.

Team HRC
Laia Sanz

Laia Sanz

17th / + 4'46

It was a quick stage, but with a lot of hazards, some of which were dangerous. I’m pleased that it went very well. I had to eat a lot of dust that came from Chavo Salvatierra, but I was able to get past him and I picked up the pace later. It was important, not only not taking risks, but not remaining too far behind, so as to be in a good start-position for tomorrow.

Team HRC
Dakar Rally

Dakar, Dakar (multiple countries)

Rally 2015

Sunday 4 Jan 2015, 12:10 UTC
# Rider Num Nationality Nat. Points Pts. Team Constructor Constr. Time/Gap
1 Sam Sunderland GBR 25 Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM 1:18'57
2 Paulo Goncalves POR 20 Team HRC Honda +00'05
3 Marc Coma SPA 16 Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +1'12
4 Joan Barreda SPA 13 Team HRC Honda +1'42
5 Alain Duclos FRA 11 Sherco Rally Factory Sherco +2'08
6 Jeremias Israel CHI 10 Team HRC Honda +2'16
7 David Casteu FRA 9 Team Casteu KTM +2'36
8 Matthias Walkner AUT 8 Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +2'42
9 Pablo Quintanilla CHI 7 KTM Rally Team KTM +2'58
10 Ruben Faria POR 6 Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +3'02
11 Toby Price AUT 5 KTM AUS Rally Factory KTM +3'31
12 Helder Rodrigues POR 4 Team HRC Honda +3'32
13 Olivier Pain FRA 3 Yamaha Racing Yamaha +3'34
14 Jordi Viladoms SPA 2 Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +3'45
16 Javier Pizzolito ARG 0 Honda South America Rally Team Honda +4'32
17 Laia Sanz SPA 0 Team HRC Honda +4'46
Rider Standings
Sunday, 4 Jan 2015
# Rider Nationality Nat. Team Constructor Constr.
1 Sam SUNDERLAND GBR Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM
2 Paulo GONCALVES POR Team HRC Honda
3 Marc COMA SPA Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM