Joan Barreda laid down the gauntlet in the China Grand Rally, becoming the first leader as the race kicked off in Bao Tou, Inner Mongolia. The Spanish Team HRC rider – on his maiden outing in the Chinese Rally – was accompanied by teammate Michael Metge, who posted runner-up spot.
It was a dream start for the Team HRC duo in the China Grand Rally, with the pair dominating the first 81.20 kilometre stage without any real threats. Barreda and Metge, both astride Honda CRF450 RALLYs, made short work of the sand and dunes of the Chinese desert. Joan Barreda, chalking up a time of 1 hour 22 minutes and 55 seconds, marked the fasted time of the day some 49 seconds ahead of Team HRC partner Michael Metge. The third place rider came home some eleven minutes adrift of the day’s winner.
Tomorrow’s stage will feature a timed special stage of 241.79 kilometres as part of a total 446.75 kilometre stint from the bivouac in Bao Tou to that of Wulate Houqi.
Joan Barreda – stage: 1st – provisional: 1st : « I’m very happy about the stage. I tried to take it easy over the early part of the race, paying attention to the roadbook and the hazards marked out in it. As I did more kilometres I started to push harder as I was enjoying myself and also because I had Mika very close and I wanted to have a good time. »
Michael Metge – stage: 2nd – Provisional: 2nd : « Really good! I really liked the first stage. I didn’t expect to find the first dunes quite so soon after we had got off a dusty dirt track. There was a bit of vegetation too. He had a lot of fun in the dunes which were pretty big ones. The temperature was great but the dunes were a bit soft. We had to take it really carefully. »
Roberto Boasso – Team Manager : « We are really pleased with the first stage result. It was a bit more complicated towards the end with a few points that were really difficult to find. The bikes went really well all day, without any setbacks once the special had got underway. The riders were happy as they have already got out into the dunes and they were able to enjoy themselves a lot. »
Results Stage 1
1. Barreda Joan (SPA) – Team HRC, 1:22’55
2. Metge Michael (FRA) – Team HRC, +0’49
3. Monleon Armand (SPA) – KTM Warsaw Rally Team, +11’02…