HRC’s Joan Barreda won today’s opening stage of the Sealine Cross-Country Rally, the Spaniard riding his Honda CRF450 Rally to victory by just over a minute from Red Bull KTM’s Marc Coma in Qatar.
The rally got rolling at the Losail Circuit – the home of the MotoGP in Qatar – and it was Barreda setting the pace from the outset. After just over 100 miles of racing, Barreda ended the stage with victory
“I’m really pleased with the stage in Qatar,” Barreda said. “Not just because I’ve been very fast, but also because of the navigation: I did a really good job. I had tried to change the first-day strategy, but in the end I’ve picked up a very important win that sets me up nicely for the next few days.”
Third place after the opening stage is held by Coma’s Red Bull KTM teammate Jordi Viladoms – five minutes and four seconds behind Barreda.
Barreda’s Honda teammate Hélder Rodrigues ran into navigation troubles and he ended day one in fifth. Paulo Goncalves, the leader of the World Rally Raid Championship and the defending World Champion, also made a costly navigational error and finshed day one in sixth.
“I didn’t keep a very good rhythm in the rally,” Goncalves said. “I made a mistake at the beginning of the special and I lost a bit of time. We’ve still got more than 1600 kms to go, and I’ll try and make up a bit of the ground that I lost today. The bike is running like a dream and I’m very confident about the next few stages.”