Joan Barreda widens the gap at the head of the overall standings on clinching the fourth stage at Dakar 2015. A notable 6th place for Javier Pizzolito of HSA Rally Team, and 8th for Laia Sanz as the rally crosses into Chile.
The Dakar took to the mountains today, the lofty San Francisco pass, at an altitude of 4,800 metres, bearing witness as the riders rode into Chile for the first time. It was also the most extreme stretch of the course encountered so far, with the longest liaison, at 594 kilometres, and temperatures which oscillated from below zero to over 35º. The weary warriors finally earned some rest back at camp in the outskirts of the mining city of Copiapó.
Joan Barreda dictated the pace from metre one. By CP1 he was already ahead, having made short work of yesterday’s winner Mathias Walkner, and closing the gap with arch-rival Marc Coma. The duel was fought nail and tooth throughout the length of the 315 kilometre timed special.
Barreda thus puts yet more distance between himself and the nearest challengers, with a 12’49’’ advantage overall. Laia Sanz shone as second of the Team HRC finishers. Relishing the Honda CRF450 RALLY, the Spanish rider stormed to a magnificent 8th place which lifts her to 12th overall.
After a complicated opening, and a slight navigational boo-boo, Paulo Gonçalves managed to claw back a bit of lost time to finish in 12th, but still remains among the leading group. Hélder Rodrigues, was third in the first part of the stage, but finished 17th after a few setbacks.
Jeremías Israel, didn’t get the type of welcome home that he had hoped for. The Chilean suffered a heavy fall at the start of the special, and lost valuable time. Nevertheless, he bravely picked himself up, and even managed to make the finish-line in the top thirty.
Honda South America Rally Team had a splendid day out today with Javier Pizzolito amid the front-runners, taking 6th place. Chilean Daniel Gouet came home in 13th, and now situates himself as the leader of the HSA Rally Team, in 21st on the overall leaderboard.
I’m really pleased with today. It was a really fast special and we had to really concentrate hard. I looked up ahead and when I saw it was Marc and not Walker, I really floored it to not let him get away. Everything has worked out really well up until now. To keep up with Marc’s pace and even to take time off him is not easy. But we will continue to try and stay comfortably ahead and not take any chances.