Being the longest special of the rally, stage nine of the Dakar 2012 was expected to be a crucial day. The Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain enjoyed a great day with Joan Barreda and Paulo Goncalves both finishing inside the top five. Barreda made up a lot of ground in the standings and Goncalves moved up to fourth place overall. Zé Hélio and Jose Manuel Pellicer also improved.
Barreda started the day ahead of Cyril Despres. He rode the fast opening miles alone before Despres caught him. The two formed a pair for most of the remainder of the stage. The young Spaniard was able to benefit a lot from the Frenchman’s experience. Barreda finally ended the day in third — on the podium again.
“I’m happy how things went and especially delighted with my error-free offroad navigation,” said Joan Barreda. “I made up time and places in the overall standings. The bike and team spirit are top-notch.”
Paulo Goncalves had an excellent day also. The team changed his engine yesterday as scheduled, just like they did on Barreda’s bike. Basically all top teams have this type of service planned or already completed. The Portuguese rode the long stage — which was extended to 373 miles — without major complications, arriving at the finish around 15 minutes behind the winner. Despite the exhaustion, Goncalves had fun during the magnificent descent to Iquique and the ocean.
Zé Hélio and Jose Manuel Pellicer looked strong all day as well, rounding out an impressive outing for the Husqvarna-Speedbrain squad. The team is looking forward to Stage 10 from Iquique to Arica, Chile. It should be another challenge with plenty of sand and waves at the beginning.
Dakar 2012, Stage 9 Results:
1. Cyril Despres (FRA) KTM, 5:04:33 hrs
2. Marc Coma (SPA) KTM, 3:54 min behind
3. Joan Barreda (SPA) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 8:28
4. Helder Rodrigues (POR) Yamaha, 11:44
5. Paulo Goncalves (POR) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 15:12
20. Jose Manuel Pellicer (SPA) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 40:07
23. Zé Hélio (BRA) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 42:49
Dakar 2012, Overall Standings:
1. Despres, 28:30:17 hrs
2. Coma, 2:28 min behind
3. Rodrigues, 59:19
4. Paulo Goncalves (POR) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 1:25:57
16. Joan Barreda (SPA) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 3:33:06
21. Zé Hélio (BRA) Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 4:09:14
23. Jose Manuel Pellicer (SPA), Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain, 4:32:00