Joan Barreda proved to be the fastest in the Super Special at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the first test in the FIM World Championship of Cross-Country Rallies. Paulo Gonçalves finished in fifth and Hélder Rodrigues sixth.
It was an excellent start for Team HRC at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge with an important win for Joan Barreda, which will allow him to choose the starting order for the first stage of the rally. As the dunes will play such a crucial role in the stage, starting a few positions from behind could be to the team’s advantage.
Today’s Super Special might have been a mere 2.5 kilometres long, but it proved to be a spectacular one all the same, taking place in the close vicinity of the Yas Marina Circuit. Barreda once again showed his pace and clocked up a time some two seconds over his nearest second place rival.
The top positions were fiercely disputed with current champion Paulo Gonçalves finishing in fifth very close to his rivals. Hélder Rodrigues crossed the line in sixth after a light fall on a sharp corner.
Joan Barreda: It was really good. I only made a slight mistake on the start of the lap and I dropped one or two seconds. After that I felt really good. I kept pushing for the whole lap and in the end I picked up a nice victory, which is great for tomorrow as we can start when we want and we’ll try to get off to a good start tomorrow.
Paulo Goncalves: I tried to be fast but the course is short so I tried to be quick and not take any risks because it’s important to be in the top five tomorrow. I think that it’s really good that I finished in fifth really near to the winner who was Joan Barreda. Tomorrow the real race starts and we’ll all push to try and keep in a good position tomorrow as well.
Helder Rodrigues: It was very fast and very close today, and I had to take the corners very quick. I tried to go too fast and I made a slight mistake and I finally made sixth place, which I think was good. Joan won so he’ll be in a good position to start tomorrow. The race is long and I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow.