Honda had proven its strength last October with the new CRF450 RALLY, winning both the Morocco Rally and the Merzouga Rally. Thus, the team has taken command of the first stage of the 2014 edition, after 25 years of absence. It was back on 11th January 1989 when the official Honda HRC savoured victory for the last time. That was when Gilles Lalay took the fifteenth stage of the Paris-Tunisia-Dakar. Now, in the second year back in the event after a 24 year official absence, Joan Barreda has picked up a crucial first stage win on the CRF450 RALLY. After 25 years, Honda are back in the running.
It was a very early start for the Rally Dakar. The pack of riders headed off at four in the morning on a long 405 kilometre liaison that took them towards the vibrant city of Rosario for the start of the 180 km special. Joan Barreda on the Honda CRF450 RALLY, got off to a storming start in the special, clocking up the fastest time of all the 175 riders at the first time-check, in this, the 2014 edition of the legendary Dakar. He would repeat the same feat at the end of the stage. Team-mate Paulo Goncalves also kept up a cracking pace, holding on to fifth place at the close.
Sam Sunderland © Honda
Sam Sunderland's Honda debut at the Dakar was productive, taking ninth position. Javier Pizzolito finished 19th and Helder Rodrigues in 22nd. Joan Barreda, SS1 1st 2:25'31 : "It's been a great day. I'm really pleased for the first win with Honda, especially for the team that has worked so hard the whole year to produce this new bike. I'm really happy to have begun the Dakar like this. Today was a tough one. Few kilometres, but with a very difficult track full of rocks and very slippery. I managed to get off really well in the second part, keep up a good pace and get a result in the end."
Paulo Goncalves © Honda