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Africa Eco Race 2019

Paulo Gonçalves clinches victory in the Sertoes longest special

Paulo Goncalves on the Honda CRF450 Rally, battled to a notable victory in the fourth stage of the Rally dos Sertoes. The Portuguese rider imposed a formidable pace from the outset, clawing back precious minutes from the overall race leader. Helder Rodrigues, too, put in a convincing performance to conclude the Sertoes Rally's longest special in third place.


The Rally dos Sertoes arrives at its mid-point with the race’s longest timed special, in a stage run over a variety of different types of track, amidst the distinctive reddish hue of the Brazilian terrain. Today’s stage, with a total of 363.85 kilometres, set off from Paracatu, and once the 125 kilometre link had been passed, it was pedal to the metal in the timed section - a very well-rounded special that included a narrow, hard and damaged track, that had been at the mercy of the rain and elements. The route also took in a fair amount of sand, as well as creeks and fords of varying water levels. The riders arrived in the town of San Francisco after a ferry-crossing, on the river bearing the same name; thus completing a total stage distance of 585.30 kilometres.

It was first and third place for the two CRF450 Rally riders, and the third time that Paulo Goncalves has marked the best time in the special so far in this Rally dos Sertoes. The Portuguese rider’s aim was clear - nothing less than victory – and not even a slight time-consuming error was able to dent the Honda rider’s continual will to win. In doing so, Goncalves cuts down the deficit with the leader by 1 minute 15 seconds leaving the Honda rider just two minutes adrift of Marc Coma.

Helder Rodrigues performed well, taking third place and moving in on third place  Brazilian Jean Azevedo, from the Honda Brazil team, who crossed the line in fourth on the day.

Tomorrow sees the riders face the race’s marathon stage, the rules of which outlaw any kind of mechanical assistance at the end of the day, and where the bikes will be closed off in the parc fermé. As a consequence, preparation is of utmost importance, and likewise, it will be crucial to not run the machine too hard tomorrow.

Paulo Gonçalves: "I had a great day today. I started from third place and I started to really push. Towards the middle of the stage I made a slight mistake, I momentarily lost concentration and lost a bit of time. I really forced it on the last part and made up time and won the stage. I’m really pleased for me, for the CRF450 Rally and for all the rest of the HRC Team, which is doing a great job. We will continue to work hard over the next few days, as we are now at the half-way point."

Helder Rodrigues: "Today was a very long stage with rocks, sand and hard ground... navigation and everything. It was a long day for everybody. I pushed as hard as I could and set a good pace; I had lost a bit of time at the beginning, but I kept trying to push and managed to maintain a fairly fast speed in the final part."

Wolfgang Fischer: "Today the HRC Team finished the longest special of the rally with over 360 kilometres of special. Paul was able to finish the day with a win, and Helder too, was on the podium in third place. Both are fighting to improve their positions. Helder is close to the podium and Paulo too, is looking for victory. There are three days left and we hope to get a good result. The bike is running well, and the riders and the mechanics too. Everything is in good shape.  
"Tonight the mechanics will have a lot of work to do. They will be concentrating on the bikes that will have to be ready for the two days of the marathon stage that await. That means that from tomorrow, until the day after tomorrow, it will be forbidden for the mechanics to help. The riders will be alone in the camp, and the bikes in the parc fermé without the mechanics."

Results Stage 4
1. Paulo Goncalves (POR-Honda), 04:24'02
2. Marc Coma (ESP-KTM), +1'15
3. Helder Rodrigues (POR-Honda), +6'49
4. Jean Azevedo (BRA-Honda), +7'18
5. Jordi Viladoms (ESP-KTM), +7'32
6. Sam Sunderland (GBR-KTM), +7'56
7. Ruben Faria (POR-KTM), +8'18
8. David Casteu (FRA-KTM), +12'07
9. Ike Klaumann (BRA-Honda), +14'13
10. Guilherme Gaspar Cascaes (BRA-Yamaha), +17'09...
Provisional after Stage 4
1. Marc Coma (ESP-KTM), 09:43'55
2. Paulo Goncalves (POR-Honda), +2'04
3. Jean Azevedo (BRA-Honda), +9'13
4. Helder Rodrigues (POR-Honda), +11'33
5. Jordi Viladoms (ESP-KTM), +14'20
6. Ruben Faria (POR-KTM), +16'22
7. Sam Sunderland (GBR-KTM), +19'32
8. David Casteu (FRA-KTM), +24'59
9. Ike Klaumann (BRA-Honda), +25'33
10. Ramon Oliveira Sacilotti (BRA-Kawasaki), +34'32...
Stage 5 - MARATHON STAGE - Thursday, August 28: Sao Francisco - Diamantina, 645.44 km
Liaison: 223.57 km - Special Stage: 335.98 km - Liaison: 85.89 km

Press Release,

Marie-France Estenave pour MFE-Live.com

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