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oan Barreda took victory on a trouble-free third day of the China Grand Rally as the Team HRC duo pulled off another one-two. The stage had been shortened from the previously scheduled version.
Today’s stage played out over rocky terrain and fast tracks at the foot of the immense Gobi Desert. Riders also had to tackle sandy sections with some fairly taxing navigation. On the day the 351 kilometre route had been reduced in length. Before making it back to the bivouac in YouQi competitors had clocked up some 761 kilometres. The rally’s main course will be served up over the next few stages as the race takes to the Gobi Desert.
Joan Barreda once again notched up the fastest time after heading out in first place where he remained until halfway through the special stage. The Team HRC man opened the track for the first hour and a half of the timed section, navigating the #honda CRF450 RALLY impeccably. This makes it three out of three thus far in the China Grand Rally. Barreda now stands six minutes clear of the second-placed rider in the general standings.
Team HRC sidekick, Frenchman #michaelmetge, was able to navigate with ease again today after the instruments had been fixed up. Metge finished three minutes adrift of Barreda and clawed back three minutes from the second place rider in the overall rankings.
Tomorrow’s 304 kilometre stage will feature a heavy dosage of dunes in which competitors will have to have their wits about them as they navigate in search of the strategically placed waypoints.
STAGE WINNER. 1:30'12 OVERALL LEADER. 6:16'06
Today was a great day out and it was enjoyable to open the track, navigating in some complicated areas but with a good pace. I tried to keep up the concentration throughout the very fast-paced stage. Everything went perfectly well. The roadbook was fine and we went past some spectacular sights. Tomorrow will be important: a sandy stage with a lot of navigation. It will be important that the instrumentation doesn’t break down.
STAGE: 2ND. +3'40 OVERALL: 3RD. +1:19'56
The special stage was shorter than expected and we were left wanting more. My GPS was working and all the other navigating gear too. I’ve got a good feeling about the bike and I’m happy to have made it through the special. Even through the stage is not yet finished and I’ve got a long liaison section to run, I’m really happy about the way that it is going.
I’m happy after yesterday’s setbacks because we spent the whole night working and it seems that we have found a solution to the problems. We are pleased that the riders have been able to go and do their job and they had a great time in a good stage. It’s satisfying to quickly resolve the issues and that has made us more effective.
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