The Bavarian-Italian Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain has reached the halfway point of the Dakar 2012 with Paulo Goncalves now in fourth place after another podium finish. Ahead of a rest day, the team raced in the seventh stage which started and ended in Copiapo, Chile after a 356-mile loop with a 260-mile special test. Goncalves was happy to finish the day in third. He had a decent outing and didn’t make any mistakes. At one point during the loop from Copiapo to Copiapo he was even leading. The route was hard and fast, then came different sections which required good navigation and a change of rhythm. Goncalves didn’t attack towards the end to save his machine. “I want to thank my team now that we’re at the halfway mark,” he said. “They do a great job and all is running smoothly and always well prepared.” Goncalves plans to go for the top three in the second week of the rally. He’s only sitting six minutes behind fellow countryman Helder Rodrigues.
Joan Barreda opened the day in third. He tried to close in on defending champ Marc Coma, but that didn’t work out. Barreda rode all day on his own, collected a lot of valuable experience, but he made a navigation error also. That error cost him 10 minutes. Nevertheless he was going strong and proved again to have podium speed.
Zé Hélio didn’t have the very best ride. The Brazilian had to deal with dust in the beginning and crashed once. He also had to repair a damaged front wheel. Jose Manuel Pellicer enjoyed a better day. The Spaniard arrived back at Copiapo in 21st place.
Team principal Wolfgang Fischer comments on a positive first week, “Basically we’re satisfied with the achievement so far. It’s not nice having lost Ike Klaumann from the race early. Everyone over here wishes him a fast and speedy recovery. Also it’s a little sad that Joan Barreda dropped back on two occasions, he has the speed to be a front-runner for sure.
“We’re having no technical problems whatsoever and our bike is totally competitive. A big thanks goes to all team members for their endless hours and for the excellent team spirit. The first week has been hard, harder than expected. We did a good job, many of our competitors already had to quit.”
Dakar 2012, Stage 7 Results:
1. Marc Coma (SPA) KTM, 3:51:35 hrs
2. Cyril Despres (FRA) KTM, 2:03 min behind
3. Paulo Goncalves (POR) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 2:49
4. Helder Rodrigues (POR) Yamaha, 3:46
13. Joan Barreda (SPA) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 13:45
21. Jose Manuel Pellicer (SPA) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 27:40
42. Zé Hélio (BRA) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 56:36
Dakar 2012, Overall Standings:
1. Despres, 18:12:38 hrs
2. Coma, 7:48 min behind
3. Helder Rodrigues (POR) Yamaha, 49:39
4. Paulo Goncalves (POR) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 55:33
19. Zé Hélio (BRA) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 2:38:50
29. Joan Barreda (SPA) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 3:25:08
30. Jose Manuel Pellicer (SPA) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 03:26:33