Helder Rodrigues pulls out all the stops and takes a well-deserved win in a decisive sixth stage of the Rally Dakar 2015. Team HRC make it to Dakar’s first rest-day with a highly impressive first week scorecard.
Helder Rodrigues stepped back into the limelight today proving himself to be the man of the moment. Displaying all the skills necessary to negotiate mountains, hard track, potholed paths, taxing navigation and a full range of hazards, the Portuguese ace, nevertheless, claimed the rally’s sixth stage on a zippy 318 kilometre timed special that wound up in Iquique.
In doing so, Helder leapfrogs into fourth overall position, in a race currently led by Joan Barreda. The plucky Spaniard, starting out in second place, cut down the gap with Marc Coma in the first kilometres, and made it to the finish-line with the sixth best time. Barreda furthers his overall advantage to 12’27’’.
In between Helder and Joan, in third place on today’s card and overall, lies Paulo Gonçalves, just five minutes off second spot. Jeremias Israel’s fall a couple of days ago, has started to show with the Chilean unable to attack, and clearly not at his physical best. Laia Sanz, can be content with the way the stage played out, and is now a hair’s breadth away from the top fifteen.
Honda South America Rally Team round off a productive first week at the Dakar. Daniel Gouet and Javier Pizzolito finished in 18th and 19th positions. The Chilean leads the team in the general standings in 18th.
The sixth stage ground to a halt in Iquique, which will play host to the caravan’s well-earned day of rest. Team HRC will take advantage of the break to give the bikes a once-over and prepare for the first of the Dakar’s two marathon stages this Sunday. The participants will be isolated from their mechanics, and any repairs to the Honda CRF450 RALLY machines, will have to be undertaken by HRC riders themselves.
I started out from behind, but I caught up with the riders who were opening the road. They were very quick, but I also had the speed to catch them. I’m pleased with the way it turned out and was very calm until the end. It’s rest-day tomorrow, which we really need, to get the energy back and plan next the second week as well as possible. I want to keep attacking and claw back a bit of time in the overall standings.
3RD + 1'42
Another fairly tough stage, especially up in the mountains. The track was very broken up, very soft, full of danger and difficult to get up. The navigation was very hard too. But in the end I’m happy with my third place today and the third overall, that’s very important for me. Today Hélder won and HRC are having a really great week, ahead overall, and winning a lot of stages. Jere and Laia are helping a lot. Next week will be harder than this one, and we will have to be very careful not to make any mistakes.
6TH + 7'20
I’m pleased to be here in Iquique and happy with the way that we have arrived here. I caught up with Marc quickly and we were together all the way from then on. There were some parts of fast track, some stretches were harder, some were like trial, and when we got to the dunes some of the other riders caught up with us and stayed there until the end. It was what we had expected but you still had to be careful. The second week will see the first days in Bolivia. It’ll be tough, and also the Iquique desert will be a tricky one for the navigation. In the end, the entrance into Argentina is not likely to be easy with some stages at over 4300 metres. There is a lot of race left, but the way to do it is the one we’ve been doing up until now.
7TH + 8'58
It was a complicated one today. I woke up this morning feeling dizzy and not on form as I had been before. Physically I wasn’t at my best and I wasn’t able to push as hard as usual. I did what I could and I’m happy to be here in Iquique. I hope to be able to recover my energy before the second week begins.
17TH + 17'57
I knew this was going to be a good stage for me, and that’s the way it was. I eased up a bit in the second half, after having got the first part’s difficult navigation out of the way. It’s not worth taking the risk when you haven’t got it in you. Now it’s time to get some rest and make the preparations for the second week of the rally. The two marathon stages will be really difficult and we’ll have to really look after the bikes. The main thing is to stay as consistent as we’ve been until now.
18TH + 18'42
Another tough stage, in Chile, like the one in Antofagasta yesterday, and now here we are in Iquique. I knew that there were a couple of hard stages coming up. I took it easy so that I’d be able to resist ahead of the stages in Bolivia. The second week will be a hard one. We’ll have to take care of the bike and our bodies if we want to make it through to Buenos Aires.