The first special of the 2019 Dakar was won by a rampant Joan Barreda in Adrenarena de Paracas, near Pisco.
But it wasn’t just Joan who shone in the Monster Energy Honda Team: Ricky Brabec posted third after an outstanding ride in the dunes with Benavides, Cornejo and Gonçalves occupying notable positions.
Day one, en route from the Peruvian capital Lima to the bivouac located around the city of Pisco, consisted of a total of 332 kilometres of stage, with only 84 km against the clock was enough to set up the first official race leader board of the 2019 edition of the Dakar Rally. 80% of the route took place in the dunes, on a stage which covered some dried up river beds that were navigationally more demanding. Nevertheless, all the members of the Monster Energy Honda Team riders were able to overcome the hazards successfully.
The temperature soared as the sun beat down onto the dunes of Adrenarena, yet despite this, Joan Barreda was scorching too clocking up a great time of 57’36” to win the stage and become the provisional race leader.
Joan Barreda: “I’m very happy to start like this. Today was a short stage but where everyone went very fast. Without making mistakes I managed to push for the whole of the special. In the beginning it’s always a bit difficult to pick up the rhythm, but from kilometre 20 I started to improve and I was able to maintain a good rhythm during the whole stage with very good results.
“Now it’s time to think about the long stages where the way of preparing them changes. Tomorrow we will have to stay focused since the pace will also be high and there is more chance of getting lost.”
Team-mate Ricky Brabec set the third fastest time 2’52” behind the Spanish rider. Kevin Benavides hampered with the task of being the first of the elite riders to open the track, was ahead for much of the day but the Argentinean ended up with the eighth fastest time on the day, one place ahead of Chilean Jose Ignacio Cornejo, ninth some 5 ’22 adrift of Barreda. Paulo Gonçalves finished eleventh 6’41” behind the Dakar’s first leader.
Ricky Brabec: “First stage of this Dakar with some very good sensations. The stage was not very long, but there were many dunes and a lot of people. I have found the whole special went pretty well: there was a bit of fesh-fesh but I’m very happy to be here and am prepared to give it my best shot over the coming days.”
Today, Tuesday, will be one of the most unique stages of this Dakar 2019, as Joan Barreda will not be the first to open the race. That job will go to the cars who will start out before. When the bikes get their turn, they can look forward to a heavily churned up and rutted route after the passage of more than one hundred four-wheeled vehicles.
After departing in Pisco, riders will head to the next bivouac in San Juan de Marcona after battling out the largest part of the stage in the dunes of Ica on a ride with a total of 554 kilometres including 342 special timed.
Kevin Benavides (STAGE: 8TH OVERALL: 8TH): “It was a very good first stage to warm up. I felt good, comfortable and I think I did a good job. We had to leave in reverse order and I left a little behind, with which I had some problems to overtake other motorcycles such as the area with a river where there was a lot of dust. Then, in the dunes, I was able to enjoy it a bit more. I felt very fast. I also found tracks that are not very reliable, but in general the navigation of this first stage was fairly easy.”
José Ignacio Cornejo (STAGE: 9TH OVERALL: 9TH): “First day over. A short first stage to warm up and let the bike run. In general I felt very comfortable on the bike. There is still a lot of race ahead, so today was a good way to start this Dakar.”
Monster Energy Honda team manager, Raul Castells: “We are happy with how the rally started, which was very good. Joan made a great start, as we expected, and we also expected that Kevin’s delayed position would penalize him, but even so it was not a bad time that he marked up.
“Ricky and Nacho also did very well and have placed themselves in very good positions. Paulo, despite lowering his pace a bit after being the first special after the operation, didn’t ride badly and we hope he can overcome that in the next stages. I’m satisfied with the start of the 2019 Dakar, but let’s not forget that the race has only just started.”[table “752” not found /]