Joan “Bang Bang” Barreda has once again announced himself as a contender in the Dakar Rally.
Barreda, who won five stages in the 2014 event, charged to the top of the overall leaderboard in the bikes with a Stage 2 win on Monday.
The Spaniard conquered the long route from Villa Carlos Paz to San Juan, Argentina, out-hustling fellow Honda rider Paulo Goncalves by more than six minutes.
As a result, Barreda now assumes the overall edge over Goncalves by 4 minutes, 37 seconds.
“In the end, we set off with a game-plan to not make any mistakes and arrive safely at the finish-line,” Barreda said in a Honda release. “The result has been amazing. In the first part, [Stage 1 winner Sam] Sunderland and [defending Dakar champ Marc] Coma pushed really hard and I overtook Paulo to try and stop them running away with the stage.
“In the end, it was more about survival than anything else. We had to measure the pace and keep focused on the navigation as there were some extremely tricky spots, plus another stretch towards the end, that really put a strain on the body.”
Speaking of Sunderland and Coma, both KTM factory riders ran into problems on Monday.
Sunderland had started the Dakar as good as hoped for on Sunday with a victory, but a navigational error at 70 kilometers to go caused him to lose more than two hours Monday as he tried to return to the proper route.
He did, but the damage was done: A 72nd-place stage finish and a massive tumble to 67th in the overall.
Coma avoided a calamity of that magnitude, but perhaps not by much. Tire problems in the final stretch of terrain forced him to slow down and settle for an 8th-place stage finish at 12 and a half minutes behind Barreda, his title rival from one year ago.
Said Coma in a KTM release: “The (tire) mousse disintegrated in the last 60 kilometers. A little earlier, I knew it was happening. I had to slow down a lot. For the last 60 kilometers, I could not go faster than 40 km/h.
“But after having reached the finish, I consider myself lucky because we could have lost much more time. Obviously it’s not the result we wanted, but it is still salvageable.”
Their fellow KTM factory riders, Ruben Faria and Jordi Viladoms, picked up third and fourth-place finishes respectively. Two more KTM-supported riders also turned in nice runs: Australia’s Toby Price in fifth and Austria’s Matthias Walkner in sixth.
NBCSN’s daily coverage of the Dakar Rally is underway. For a full Dakar TV schedule, CLICK HERE.
2015 Dakar Rally – Overall Standings, Motorcycles
(After Stage Two – Villa Carlos Paz to San Juan)
1. Joan Barreda (Honda), 7 hours, 6 minutes, 44 seconds
2. Paulo Goncalves (Honda), + 4:37
3. Ruben Faria (KTM), + 10:37
4. Jordi Viladoms (KTM), + 11:24
5. Toby Price (KTM), + 11:32
6. Marc Coma (KTM), + 12:03
7. Matthias Walkner (KTM), + 12:26
8. Helder Rodrigues (Honda), + 13:26
9. Jeremias Israel (Honda), + 16:24
10. Juan Pedrero (Yamaha), + 19:34