Honda’s Joan Barreda won today’s third stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, leading his teammate and reigning World Champion Paulo Goncalves to the finish line after 159 miles of racing. Red Bull KTM’s Sam Sunderland still holds the overall lead in the rally, however, the Brit finishing third in today’s stage.
Today’s stage ran from Moreeb to Qasr Al Sarab and Barreda and Goncalves were the men on the move, the pair crossing the finish line just a minute apart. Goncalves’ strong day on the course allowed him to move to just 52 seconds behind Sunderland in the overall standings and 22 seconds behind Red Bull KTM’s Marc Coma.
“Today we had a really good day for Team HRC,” Goncalves said. “We achieved first and second overall, me and Joan [Barreda]. We have two more days to race, and I will keep battling with them to try and win. We are really happy with our bike because we can really put it to the test on these hard tracks in Abu Dhabi. Everything is okay at the moment so we are really confident about what is coming in the future.”
Barreda was also pleased with the day after taking his first stage win of the rally.
“I’m happy,” Barreda said. “Finally on the third stage we had a good day, spending the whole day pushing. I started in fourth position and I caught up with Paulo and we pushed together trying to catch up with the front-runners. I’m very pleased and have a good feeling because the bike performed perfectly today. It was a perfect day and we will try to go on this way, and the day after tomorrow we should finish the rally with a good result.”
Tomorrow’s stage will feature a different starting method with riders set to leave in groups of 15 in a motocross-style start.