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)
Liaison: 107 km
Special stage: 518 km