The 2017 Dakar Rally is still in the early phases but the third day of fourteen upped the stakes and the difficulty level of the vast 9000km trek through three countries in South America and Monster Energy Honda Team’s Joan Barreda blasted his way to victory. The Spaniard used his confidence with navigation and the speed of the factory CRF450 Rally to rip across the open expanses of the 520km dash to Bolivia and clinch his maiden win of the ’17 edition and also move to the top of the motorcycle standings courtesy of his twelve minute margin over Sam Sunderland.
“Today has been a great day,” the 33 year old said to his HRC crew. “I’m very pleased because the plan that we had worked out turned out perfectly. It was a tough day, as I had to push really hard, stay really focused, not make any mistakes and give 100% in the area of navigation at the beginning.”
Team-mate Paolo Goncalves hovers third in the table with American Ricky Brabec not far adrift in tenth. Meanwhile, over in ‘blue’, Adrien Van Beveren gunned his Yamaha WR450F to sixth spot to inhabit the same position as the rally starts to squeeze the heat, speed and demands on the athletes and teams involved.
“Everything is going according to plan for me so far,” ‘AVB’ said. “Today I did my best to remain focused on my riding and navigation and it worked out pretty well. I'm now sixth in the provisional overall standings and pretty close to the group of leading riders. I'm really satisfied with my speed as well from today. It was almost impossible to make passes with all that dust in the special, but I stayed calm and went on the attack whenever I felt it was the right time to do so.”