Dakar: Barreda angry over decision to start Stage 8 in raw conditions

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After an electrical problem effectively finished his bid to win the Dakar Rally in Monday’s Stage 8, Joan Barreda has criticized the race organizers’ decision to begin the stage in what he saw as abysmal conditions.

Rainfall yesterday at the Uyuni (Bolivia) salt flats caused the start to be delayed but eventually, the riders were told that they would be going ahead with their journey through them.

But the flats were still damp, and the resulting salt water mix proved hazardous for many riders’ vehicles.

Also complicating matters were cold temperatures, which caused at least one rider, Gerard Farres Guell, to suffer from hypothermia and be taken away by medical personnel.

Fortunately, Guell appears to be alright. But Barreda is not alright with what he feels was a bad call by the organizers.

“In the end, it’s been collateral damage, and a disgrace what they’ve made us do today – to race in a sea,” Barreda said in a Honda release after losing more than three hours on Monday.

“It was out of place. All the work on all the projects that we’ve done has gone down the pan. To make a decision like that just wasn’t right.

“Today, you couldn’t see a thing. Visibility was zero. We were floating around on top of the water. They ordered us to start and this is what happened. My Dakar is over.”

Barreda’s teammates on the factory Honda squad, Team HRC, empathized with his frustrations.

Laia Sanz, who soldiered to a fifth place finish, said she would have preferred not to have gone ahead with the start and that “the conditions were not for racing.”

Paulo Goncalves, the new second-place man in the overall standings, claimed the riders didn’t want to race for safety reasons: “It was too dangerous. We shouldn’t have run today,” he said.

Jeremias Israel crashed after he had crossed the salt flats and ended up towing Barreda to the finish at a much reduced speed. To him, he feels the decision to start on Monday has marred the whole event.

“This race should never have been disputed,” he said. “It was a compromise, but with those conditions, the start was too dangerous…It’s a pity that a stage like this one has destroyed a race that had been so interesting.”

Finally, there was Helder Rodrigues, who also suffered from electrical issues. He attempted to sum it all up.

“It’s been a really difficult day for the team,” he said. “We had problems and we’ve lost it all: My place in the overall standings, Joan’s leadership [in the overall standings]…It’s been really hard.

“The salt has been disastrous for the bikes and has broken up everything. I want to carry on, win some stages and help the team to finish with the best result possible.”

Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen finish 1-2 at High Point, tie for points lead

Rich Shepherd, ProMotocross
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Time was running off the clock and Eli Tomac was going to give up the overall win to Ken Roczen, until the Colorado native dug deep and made the pass for second in Moto 2 at High Point Raceway at Mount Morris, Penn. Roczen would win his third Moto of the season, but Tomac won the war.

With a third-place finish in Moto 1 and his second in Moto 2, Tomac grabbed the overall victory for the second time this season in Round 4 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross championship.

For Tomac, it was another difficult start to the race. He tipped his bike over in Moto 1 and fell back to fifth while battling two seconds behind the leader Blake Baggett. Tomac had to battle his way back toward the front again after barely cracking the top five in the first Motos in two of the first three rounds.

Roczen fared even worse in Moto 1. He finished sixth in that race – more than 34 seconds behind the leader Baggett. Determined to make up for his bad start, Roczen charged through the field in Moto 2 and took the lead from Cooper Webb on Lap 9.

“I was just going to charge,” Roczen told NBC Sports after his Moto win. “Do the best I can. I went back to my Colorado (last week) settings because the first race was awful; I couldn’t even ride.”

Tomac entered the round two points behind Roczen and was able to make up only those two points. The battle continues onto Florida next week with a tie for the top spot.

With a 2-5, Jason Anderson grabbed third overall.

Battling back from injury, Anderson faded in the closing laps of Moto 2, but is regaining strength each week.

Webb (third) and Zach Osborne (fourth) rounded out the top five in Moto 2 and finished fourth and fifth respectively overall.

Moto 1 featured a rider searching for his first Moto win in two years. Baggett earned the holeshot and held off an early advantage by Tomac. When Tomac fell, it handed second to Anderson, who finished nearly 10 seconds behind the leader.

“Every time I get out front here, I have that weird sensation of trying to keep it on two wheels,” Baggett said on NBC Sports Gold following his win.

Tomac was not the only rider to go down in Moto 1. Webb lost his pegs on Lap 9 and became the cape to his KTM motorcycle as he flew along holding tight to the handlebars. He recovered in that race to finish seventh.

450 Moto 1 Results
450 Moto 2 Results
450 Overall Results
Points Standings

Adam Cianciarulo remains perfect in the 250 class. Winning Moto 2 in each round so far this season, Cianciarulo has capitalized on his late event surges to sweep Victory Lane in the first four weeks.

It wasn’t an easy run for Cianciarulo, nonetheless. He was only fifth at the end of Lap 1 in Moto 1 and was forced to slice through the field to get to second at the checkers of that race.

“Just coming to the races now – coming to outdoor nationals now – compared to the past, it’s just an entirely different vibe,” Cianciarulo said on NBCSN after the race. “It’s like I’m experiencing it for the first time because for the first time in my whole pro career I believe in myself.

“It’s a process when you hit rock bottom and start coming back.”

Hunter Lawrence stole the show in Moto 1. Earning his first career win handily, he came out in Moto 2 and proved it was not a fluke by finishing third in the race and taking second overall.

“It’s awesome,” Lawrence said on NBC Sports Gold following his Moto 1 victory. “It’s just a Moto win, but it’s a big milestone in our trip and campaign.”

Chase Sexton earned the holeshot in Moto 1, but faded to fourth at the end. Sexton kept Cianciarulo in sight in the back half of Moto 2 to finish second in the race and third overall.

With a 3-4, Dylan Ferrandis finished fourth overall with Colt Nichols (5-5) finishing fifth.

After losing the overall at Thunder Valley amidst controversy, Justin Cooper wanted to make a statement. He barely raised his voice with a sixth in Moto 1 and a ninth in Moto 2 to finish ninth overall.  He lost another 20 points to the points leader as Cianciarulo starts to edge away from the pack. Cooper remains second in the points, but is now 26 back.

Garrett Marchbanks went down hard on Lap 4 of Moto 1 and had the bike land on his head. He did not start Moto 2, but there have been no report of injury yet.

250 Moto 1 Results
250 Moto 2 Results
250 Overall Results
Points Standings

Moto Wins

450MX
[4] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & Pala II, Thunder Valley II)
[3] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[1] Blake Baggett (High Point I)

250MX
[4] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[3] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I, Thunder Valley I)
[1] Hunter Lawrence (High Point I)

Next race: WW Ranch Motocross Park, Jacksonville, Fla. June 22

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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