Dakar: Goncalves Dominates First Marathon Stage

Dakar: Goncalves Dominates First Marathon Stage

Credit: Honda Worldwide

Set in an average altitude of 3500m, the 429km stage4 was a tough challenge for the first day of the Marathon stage. All of the early Special stages, except for the Prologue, had been cancelled or shortened in this year’s Dakar due to the weather, making this long and demanding stage4 the first to be carried out as planned.

Paulo Goncalves   Kevin Benavides

Paulo Goncalves                                       Kevin Benavides

The fact that stage4 and 5 are Marathon stages, meaning the riders will not be able to receive any support by the mechanics at the bivouac, not only speed but a combination of skills are needed to complete the stages safely, giving the Dakar an adventurous taste.

In the demanding route with altitudes reaching 4000m at times, both TEAM HRC and Honda South America Rally Teams were bursting with performance. Clocking 3 hours 49 minutes 29 seconds, Paulo Goncalves won the stage with local Kevin Benavides following in second place at 3 hours 54 minutes 15 seconds. Also in fourth came Joan Barreda at 3 hours 55 minutes 03 seconds.

According to the information from the Way-Points (*GPS controlled points set on the course), Barreda was the rider with the speed today, totally blowing away his rivals at an amazing 3 hours 50 minutes 03 seconds. However he had yet again been caught over-speeding, resulting in a 5minute penalty putting him back in fourth position.

All other TEAM HRC riders, Michael Metge, Ricky Brabec and Paolo Ceci made it safely back to bivouac where only the riders can enter. Also riders from the Honda South America Rally Team, Javier Pizzolito, Adrien Metge and Jean De Azevedo all completed the stage within 35th position, putting them further up in the overall ranking. Now getting familiar with the race, all nine CRF450RALLYs and their riders will tackle the second day of the Marathon stage, the highlight of the first half of 2016 Dakar.

Supporting crew of each team headed to Bolivia ahead of the riders to welcome them at Uyuni the next day. On the roads to Tarija, where the bivouac is set, the locals were overflowing to welcome the Dakar as it was so last year. Gentle winds and thicker air awaits the tired riders at this town at an altitude of 1880m.

Joan Barreda     Ricky Brabec
Joan Barreda                                             Ricky Brabec
Paulo Goncalves Stage4 1st / Provisional 1st:
“Everything went very well today managing a high average in the 400km Special stage. It was a pity I miss-navigated at one point and lost a few seconds, but the teamwork was wonderful and if we can continue the race like this it will be perfect.”
Joan Barreda Stage4 4th / Provisional 3rd:
“We all achieved a good pace today, teammates Benavides and Goncalves also were speedy. Starting from 5th position, I succeeded in overtaking these teammates as well as KTM rider Svitko, resulting in a trouble free and satisfying day. I shall now rest and prepare for the second day of the Marathon stage.”
Kevin Benavides Stage4 3rd / Provisional/4th:
“Being the first time to start the Dakar ahead of the pack, I was a little nervous not to make any mistakes. I took care to read the map and make the right decisions, and as a result managed to keep a good pace.”
Wolfgang Fischer | TEAM HRC Manager:
“It is good that the first day of the Marathon stage went well. All Honda riders reached the bivouac and none of the bikes were damaged. As no support is available in the Marathon stage, this is most important. Dominating up to third position in the overall ranking is great news as well.”
Michael Metge
Michael Metge
Event information

2016 January 7. Stage 5: San Salvador de Jujuy – Uyuni
Special sections: 327 km
Total: 642 km

All round vigilance is required for this second part of the marathon stage: in addition to managing mechanics, particularly the tires, all the drivers will have to pay attention to their own bodies’ reactions. Entry into Bolivia is also marked by an abrupt increase in altitude, rising to 4,600m – the highest point in Dakar’s history – during the day’s special section. Technically, it is also in this stage that the rally steps up a gear, with the first off-piste sections as well as some navigational gems which might be a headache for some navigators…

Dakar Rally 2016 – Stage 4

Rank Rider (Team)
1 Paulo Goncalves (Honda) 03:49’29
2 Kevin Benavides (Honda) +00:04’46
3 Ruben Faria (Husqvarna) +00:05’26
4 Joan Barreda (Honda) +00:05’34
5 Antoine Meo (KTM) +00:06’44
6 Toby Price (KTM) +00:06’48
7 Ricky Brabec (Honda) +00:07’45
10 MichaeL Metge (Honda) +00:08’16
18 Paolo Ceci (Honda) +00:11’56
22 Adrien Metge (Honda) +00:13’21
31 Javier Pizzolito (Honda) +00:15’48
42 Jean De Azevedo (Honda) +00:25’39
46 Maikel Verkade (Honda) +00:32’38
51 Pedro Bianchi Prata (Honda) +00:41’10
61 Rob Smits (Honda) +00:53’46
120 Danny Robert Nogales Copa (Honda) +02:14’05
129 Federico Eduardo Cola (Honda) +08:10’36

Dakar Rally 2016 – Overall classification

Rank Rider (Team)
1 Paulo Goncalves (Honda) 10:17’27
2 Kevin Benavides (Honda) 10:21’53
3 Joan Barreda (Honda) 10:22’53
4 Stefan Svitko (KTM) 10:25’35
5 Ruben Faria (Husqvarna) 10:25’42
6 Matthias Walkner (KTM) 10:26’40
14 MichaeL Metge (Honda) 10:35’14
17 Ricky Brabec (Honda) 10:38’31
24 Paolo Ceci (Honda) 10:45’32
26 Adrien Metge (Honda) 10:47’07
30 Javier Pizzolito (Honda) 10:54’40
48 Maikel Verkade (Honda) 11:33’11
55 Pedro Bianchi Prata (Honda) 11:59’12
60 Rob Smits (Honda) 12:08’06
99 Jean De Azevedo (Honda) 13:19’06
122 Danny Robert Nogales Copa (Honda) 15:18’11
129 Federico Eduardo Cola (Honda) 19:39’58
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