The first week of Rally Dakar 2014 is out of the way, and TEAM HRC is taking a well-deserved day-off before week two of the competition begins.
It was rest day in Salta, Argentina with a lay-in for the riders, which will come as a relief after the early hour starts. Less so for the mechanics who took advantage of the break to go over the machines, while the riders faced the press and the many fans who have travelled up to the Dakar Village to meet them in person.
The members of TEAM HRC already have their sights firmly set on the final part of the rally as the competition enters the unchartered territory of Bolivia. Salar de Uyuni plays host to the opening leg of the Dakar 2014’s second marathon stage.
On paper the team’s overall situation looks positive. Joan Barreda is second overall with two stage wins, and Hélder Rodrigues has fought his way back to eighth place on the leader-board. Javier Pizzolito, too has been working hard for the team and will be looking to climb positions as the number of dunes and sand increases.
Honda is also supporting other riders with the pre-production models which will go on sale to clients in 2014. Honda Argentina Rally Team with Laia Sanz and Pablo Rodríguez improve by the day. The World Trial and Enduro champion is in 19th, and Pablo Rodríguez is in 33rd position.
Martino Bianchi TEAM HRC General Manager
It really has been one of the most gruelling first parts that we’ve seen in the Dakar in recent years. So many riders, in so many teams, have had problems and 50% of the competitors in the bike section are already out. TEAM HRC, I believe, has been doing a great job, having won three of the of the first six stages, thanks to Barreda and Sunderland. Barreda is second overall and Rodrigues has climbed from twentieth to eighth place, and is now just thirty minutes from fifth place. I’m pleased; we’ve proved that the bike is quick, the riders are fast, and that the team bonds well together. We’ve got a week left, and anything can happen.
Katsumi Yamazaki TEAM HRC Team Director
I’m very pleased with the results up until now. We have won three stages and the riders have done a great job. We have lost two riders but they performed well while they were still in. We are second with Joan Barreda and eighth with Hélder Rodrigues. We have also got Javier Pizzolito. Likewise, there are the riders Laia Sanz and Pablo Rodriguez, that Honda are supporting, who are going very well. So I’m very glad about that. Tomorrow we are off again and I hope that our top riders get the best possible results.
Sunday, January 12
Stage 7: Salta – Uyuni
Liaison: 373 km Special: 409 km Total: 782 km
Before the Salt Flat, the maze of tracks
The second marathon stage will begin for the riders of motorcycles and quad bikes, who will be savouring the first visit of the Dakar to Bolivia. When they enter the country the riders will experience a visual shock and will also be perturbed by the maze of tracks through which they will have to navigate. In these steep mountainous areas, the beauty of the setting and the variety of colours will not make the task ahead any easier. The few villages which will be idly crossed will, on the other hand, provide them with perfect waypoints. To reward their diligence, they will be ab le to head for the bivouac in Uyuni, set up on the edge of the salt flat… at an altitude of 3,600m!