Barreda and Metge at the China Grand Rally

© DR

Team HRC’s Joan Barreda and Michael Metge are poised to get their first taste of the third edition of the China Grand Rally which gets underway tomorrow.

With less than a hundred days to go until the 2017 Dakar Rally – off road season’s blue riband event – Team HRC are continuing with the preparations of its riders and the Honda CRF450 RALLY. This time around, it will be Spaniard Joan Barreda and Frenchman Michael Metge who make their maiden trips to the Far East.

The two riders have their sights set on an otherwise unknown China Grand Rally – a longer rally with greater mileage than those of the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Championship. The race will mark the Asian debut for both Team HRC members.

Barreda and Metge will be back in action in China for the first time since the exhaustive training programme of August which saw the pair do battle with American deserts, a session culminating with victory in the legendary Vegas to Reno race. The China Grand Rally will be the final date before the Spanish and French riders head out to South America at the end of December.

The nine-day rally takes place in the northern provinces of China, kicking off in the city of Baotou in the Chinese region of Inner Mongolia. Riders can look forward to sand and loose gravel as well as the great Mongolian dunes and their high level of navigation demands. The competitors will have to tackle almost four thousand kilometres including 1,650 km against the clock and more than 2,300 kilometres of liaison sections. The longest special stage of the event will be the 304 kilometre fifth stage. The race concludes in Zuo Qi on October 3.

Roberto Boasso – Team Manager : « We are already in China, ready to get another competition underway with Team HRC. Today we got through all the administrative and technical checks which was tricky due to the language, but we passed them well. Tomorrow the race kicks off and it will be in the sand and will be a good way of sizing up the race and to see how they have made the roadbooks, for example. The team, the riders and the mechanics are all ready. We are all very happy to be out here in China in a new continent for us and in a different race. »    
Joan Barreda : « We are just about to get this race underway and I’m very pleased to be competing. It will be a new rally for us in a new continent with unseen deserts and we really don’t know what to expect. On the other hand, I’m also very happy to continue with the development plan that we set out at the beginning of the season. It will be another great test for us and for the machine. It will be a good test as it’s in the sand where there is a lot of safety, which is an important aspect. The most important thing will be to put the kilometres in and complete this final test before the next Dakar. »
Michael Metge : « I’m really pleased to be out here for the first time in China. We have been very well received by Honda China and it’s always really nice to be able to rely on someone who is such a good host.
« My father took part in the Paris-Moscow-Peking and I’ve been watching videos of it. I love to be able to race in the same territory that he did. We will be expecting a lot of dunes and different terrains. It will be really good for us to go on clocking up more mileage on the bike. Nine days will be a very long and an important test. It will be a really positive step towards tackling the next Dakar. »