China: Barreda and Metge rule the roost in the Gobi Desert

Joan Barreda and Michael Metge

Joan Barreda is turning out to be the prime mover in the China Grand Rally after snatching a fourth consecutive victory to extend his lead in the general standings. Teammate Michael Metge was once again second.


Another stage and another one-two for Team HRC as the fourth stage of the China Grand Rally unfolds deep in the Gobi Desert. Today’s special stage – at just over 200 kilometres – was a visually stunning sight where the riders got to enjoy a dune-filled final section.

Spaniard Joan Barreda rode the Honda CRF450 RALLY hard to clinch a fourth consecutive triumph that consolidates his place at the top of the overall leaderboard with a 48 minute surplus over the nearest second place competitor.

Team HRC brother-in-arms, Frenchman Michael Metge, was hot on the heels of the race leader and took runner-up spot on the day and looks ever more at ease on the CRF450 RALLY. Metge clawed back a further eight minutes from the second-placed rider in the general rankings.

The fifth stage will be held tomorrow, Thursday, which will include the rally’s longest special stage scheduled at 304 kilometres against the clock. Shazao Haizi, as authorities have christened the stage, will be battled out over the same terrain as today’s stage.
Joan Barreda – stage: 1st-02:35’58 – Overall: 1st-08:52’04 : « It was a really good stage – another stage where I got a good result while opening the track. I tried to push hard right from the start to try and get a top result. I continue to have some issues with the GPS which the race authorities don’t seem to be able to sort out. Some of the points I had to validate manually. Nevertheless, I was able to ride at a good pace and I didn’t lose too much time. The was a lot of wavy track which I could ride confidently and there was a really good final section in the dunes. I was able to stay focused all day. »

Michael Metge – stage: 2nd-+3’08 – Overall: 3rd-+1:23’04 : « It was a really nice stage. I had a really good time in the final part of the stage. I have never enjoyed a landscape with so many dunes as much as this. It was great fun to be out in the dunes with Joan. It was a very varied stage with all kinds of terrain, but mainly sand. Today was started out with the fuel tanks full to see how the consumption goes and to be able to use them for the Dakar. It took a while to get used to all the weight but after I attacked hard and it was a pity that I got stuck in a dune and lost a bit of time, but it was amazing nevertheless. The views were magnificent. »

Roberto Boasso – Team Manager: « We are really happy with the day today. It went really well for both of the riders. Joan continues to have some problems with the GPS. Both of the guys had a great stage. We are still trying things out on the bike and today gave us a great chance to test things out in the dunes. We are working really hard to find solutions for the bike. We will see what is best way and use it in the future. »