Honda men dominate Dakar Day 3 – Toby Price slips to 10th Outright

Spectacular third day at the Rally Dakar 2016: the stage through the mountainous Jujuy area ended with a Honda-filled podium and a once-again triumphant Joan Barreda back at the top of the general standings.

Dakar 2016 - Joan Barreda
Dakar 2016 – Joan Barreda

The Spanish Honda rider gave a master class in how to deal with a complex stage and ascended once more to the top of the Dakar 2016 leaderboard. Barreda was lightning quick behind the bars and sharp as a blade as a navigator as he notched up the fastest time over the 200 kilometres of special stage.

Joan Barreda – Honda – Stage Winner – Race Leader – “Today was a great day after yesterday, when I had to open the track, but today we started from behind which gave us a good position to attack from. We were very focused throughout the stage, which had very little navigation but plenty of radars that you had to be careful of. I kept a great pace throughout the 200 km and I’ve got the leadership back.”

Dakar 2016 - Joan Barreda
Dakar 2016 – Joan Barreda

On Monday it had been Toby Price leading the way but GPS difficulties early on in the opening part of timed special before then running into some problems with cars, spectators and wildlife, the popular Australian crossed the line at the end of stage three 37th quickest but still remains tenth outright.

Toby Price – 37th on Stage – 10th Outright – “That killed the confidence a bit so I backed it off because I didn’t want to cartwheel or hit anything. But it’s a long race and today cost me a bit of time but I’m still in a good overall position and I’m happy about that. We’re still good and we’ll sort it out tomorrow.”

Dakar 2016 - Toby Price
Dakar 2016 – Toby Price

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The third stage of Dakar 2016 actually proved to be a dream day-out for the three Honda men who occupied the entire Jujuy rostrum. Barreda scorched to the head of the course as team-mate Gonçalves closes in on the leaders while Honda South America’s Kevin Benavides was second overall on the stage and holds down third outright ahead of Goncalves.

Kevin Benavides – Honda – 2nd on Stage – 3rd Outright – “Today was a nice stage for me. I really enjoyed it and it was a great one to ride: mountain tracks, hard ground and very few rocks. It really surprised me to finish in second place. I’m living for the day in the stages and tomorrow’s strategy will be to look after the bike as we have now arrived at the marathon stage. I have to keep a firm foot on the ground and stay focused on the job.

Dakar 2016 - Kevin Benavides
Dakar 2016 – Kevin Benavides

Paulo Goncalves – Honda – 3rd on Stage – 4th Outright – “I think that I had a good stage, especially for such a slippery mountain track. I tried to maintain a good rhythm even with a safety margin and I was able to make it onto the podium. What is up ahead will be more difficult and that’s why I can’t make any mistakes, although with the weather as changeable as it is, we don’t know what to expect. The main thing is to be careful and not make any mistakes.”

Dakar 2016 - Paulo Goncalves
Dakar 2016 – Paulo Goncalves

Antoine Meo crossed the line in fourth place ahead of KTM rider Stefan Svitko of Slovakia and improved his position in the overall standings by moving up to 13th place. The French rider who came into the team as an Enduro world champion, started his day well after been given back time lost on Monday when he stopped to assist an injured rider. He was the 15th starter in stage three and managed to get out of the dust by the 20km mark.

Antoine Meo – “After that I pushed harder and it was good for me. I didn’t want to start first tomorrow because I’m not ready to open a hard stage so fourth place is not too bad. Also it will be a difficult stage. I will try to learn more about the rally and also to understand the marathon stage. I need to use the tire better and stay safe.”

Dakar 2016 - Antoine Meo
Dakar 2016 – Antoine Meo

Teammate Matthias Walkner finished tenth in the stage that was originally to be 314km but was cut down to under 200km because of the continued difficult weather conditions. The Austrian rider is now sixth overall but only one minute 47 off the leading time.

Matthias Walkner: “Today was quite good, not so much navigation and I tried to do the same as yesterday and go at maybe 95% to find a good rhythm. I think tomorrow the navigation is going to get tougher and we have a long, more than 400km special ahead of us. The top six are within two minutes of each other so this is where it really begins.”

Husqvarna teammates Pablo Quintanilla and Ruben Faria of Portugal are well positioned in fifth and sixth place in the general standings where the top ten riders are only separated by five minutes.

Pablo Quintanilla: “Today was better for me because we made some changes to the suspension overnight and I felt good. The stage was also better than yesterday, but the same kind of terrain and only basic navigation.”

Dakar 2016 - Pablo Quintanilla
Dakar 2016 – Pablo Quintanilla

It was a more complicated story for Faria who said he made a mistake at the refuelling stop and 80 km before the end of the timed special he noticed his front tank was empty. Having to rely on what was left in his second tank, he had to take it easy to finish the stage.

Ruban Faria – “I rode at 50kmh for the last 80 km and I lost about 5-6 minutes,” he said. Although he is now four minutes off the leading time in the overall standings, Faria is one of the most experienced Dakar riders and will have the opportunity to make it up. Wednesday takes the competition into much more difficult territory with more navigational challenges and an average altitude of 3500 metres.

Dakar 2016 - Ruben Faria
Dakar 2016 – Ruben Faria

It should also be noted that today’s results quoted here are provisional, and thus are subject to change when any time penalties for indiscretions are levied  by organisers,

Dakar 2016 – Stage 3. Termas de Río Hondo – San Salvador de Jujuy
PROVISIONAL
  1. BARREDA Joan 6 SPA Team HRC 2:30’37
  2. BENAVIDES Kevin 47 ARG Honda South America Rally Team +00’26
  3. GONCALVES Paulo 2 POR Team HRC +00’52
  4. MEO Antoine 49 FRA Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +00’53
  5. SVITKO Stefan 5 SLO Slovnaft Team +00’57
  6. QUINTANILLA Pablo 4 CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +1’18
  7. VAN BEVEREN Adrien 42 FRA Yamaha Motor Europe +2’02
  8. FARRES Gerard 23 SPA Himoinsa Team +2’12
  9. DUCLOS Alain 20 FRA Sherco TVS Rally Factory +2’21
  10. WALKNER Matthias 14 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +2’52
  11. PEDRERO Joan 17 SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory +3’07
  12. ARANA Txomin 27 SPA GOR Sport +3’11
  13. PAIN Olivier 10 FRA Nomade Racing +3’41
  14. BOTTURI Alessandro 18 ITA Yamaha Motor Europe +3’56
  15. METGE Michael 19 FRA Team HRC +4’01
  16. GYENES Emanuel ROU Autonet Motorcycle Team +4’01
  17. BRABEC Ricky 48 USA Team HRC +4’07
  18. RODRIGUES Helder 7 POR Yamaha Motor Europe +4’11
  19. JAKES Ivan 16 SLO Jakes Dakar Team +4’12
  20. CERVANTES Iván 52 SPA Himoinsa Team +4’59
Dakar 2016 – Outright Standings after Stage 3
PROVISIONAL
  1. BARREDA Joan 6 SPA Team HRC 6:26’50
  2. SVITKO Stefan 5 SLO Slovnaft Team +00’14
  3. BENAVIDES Kevin 47 ARG Honda South America Rally Team +00’48
  4. GONCALVES Paulo 2 POR Team HRC +1’08
  5. DUCLOS Alain 20 FRA Sherco TVS Rally Factory +1’10
  6. WALKNER Matthias 14 AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +1’47
  7. QUINTANILLA Pablo 4 CHI Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +2’38
  8. FARIA Ruben 8 POR Husqvarna Factory Rally Team +3’57
  9. PEDRERO Joan 17 SPA Sherco TVS Rally Factory +4’33
  10. PRICE Toby 3 AUS Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team +5’03
Tomorrow – January 6th – Stage 4: San Salvador de Jujuy – San Salvador de Jujuy
Special sections: 429 km – Total: 629 km – Marathon 1: no mechanics
Dakar 2016 - Stage Four Map
Dakar 2016 – Stage Four Map

Tomorrow, Jujuy will have a very decisive stage in store. The San Salvador de Jujuy loop will not be bringing the competitors back to the bivouac where the technical crew are housed. Instead, there will be the first part of the strict marathon stage where riders are forced to quarantine the bikes after the special stage. Only the riders themselves will be allowed to carry out any mechanical revisions or repairs. The following morning they will be handed back the machines in the same state that they were delivered to the parc ferme. Extra caution with the mechanics will be required.

On many levels, the competitors face their first real test here. The special section takes place at an average of 3,500 m altitude, with incessant changes in pace resulting from alternating sandy and rocky terrain. This gruelling route will be on the agenda when everyone already has 2,500 km in the saddle or bucket seat, which is already exhausting for the lower placed drivers. First and foremost, this is the start of a very particular marathon stage, with a closed area for the vehicles… and for the competitors.