From a Team HRC press release:
No change in the overall standings today, after Team HRC riders Joan Barreda and Paulo Gonçalves had established themselves as race leaders at the end of yesterday’s infernal stage. All five team members finished in the top sixteen.
It turned out to be a positive outing for Joan Barreda and the other components of the Team HRC camp, on the third stage from San Juan to Chilecito. Although it was anything but easy, after the gruelling and epic stage of yesterday, today’s event still required a fair amount of technical finesse, and a high degree of concentration, especially in the latter part, as riders were forced to tackle a very narrow, challenging section along the home-straight.
Joan Barreda opened the track throughout the stage and finished the section against the clock, on the Honda CRF450 RALLY, with the day’s third-best time. The Spaniard holds off his adversaries with an overall 5’30’’ lead ahead of second place team-mate Paulo Gonçalves, who finished fifth on the day, which sets him up nicely for following stage.
Jeremías Israel, is another happy camper, after putting in another noteworthy and trouble-free display, finishing eighth in the stage and in the overall standings. Hélder Rodrigues will be in a good position to attack from after a fifteenth place finish, which leaves him lying in ninth overall, just one second behind team-buddy Jeremías Israel.
Laia Sanz, was once more among the top riders, repeating her 17th place of the opening day.
Best of the Honda South America Rally Team was once again Chilean Daniel Gouet, in 24th in both the stage and overall.
It was a stage where you really had to have your wits about you. Marc could have made up a lot of time, if I had made any navigational errors. The final part was full of stones, broken track, and many traps, so you had to be really careful with both the riding and the navigation. I kept up a good pace, and I felt pretty good, but I thought it was better not to take any risks in the final section.
Today I finished the stage in third with a good position overall. The first kilometres were really fast and we got very high up in the mountains with a lot of very narrow and dangerous tracks. In the final 50 kilometres, there were loads of river-beds and off-road, so you had to stay very focused. Tomorrow, we will have the first day in Chile, a tricky day, and I just want to concentrate on taking it day by day to achieve the objectives.
It was a short day compared to yesterday’s stage, but an intense one, very quick in the beginning, which gave us a chance to really put the CRF450 RALLY through its paces. After we went through a zone with a broken up track and a river that was very picturesque. In the end I’m happy with the job. I think it was a good stage for me. Getting over a stage like that helps build confidence.
Third day and we are still up there in good positions. It was a very short, but technical day. The bike performed really well all the way through. I want to keep on battling until the end to be able to have a good race. Starting a bit further back tomorrow will help us have a good stage tomorrow.
It started off as a very fast stage, and I thought that it was going to be more difficult than they had actually said. In the end, I was thankful that it wasn’t so hard – there was only one stretch of river-bed that was difficult, and a very technical section at the end that was very stony. It went very well. I got caught on a shrub and came off the bike, but it was nothing. Now, we will take time out to relax a bit and get ready for tomorrow’s stage.
Everything is going fine up until now. The day was made difficult by so much dust. I tried to push as hard as I could, and tried to salvage something from the stage. But we are still only at the beginning of what I’m sure will be a very tough Dakar.