|SA-Dakar Rally: Mixed emotions at Speedbrain - Goncalves with 6h penalty.|
Thursday´s stage eleven of the Dakar 2012 provided mixed feelings for the Husqvarna Speedbrain team. Joan Barreda scored yet another top five result, but Paulo Goncalves´ battle for an overall podium is over following a decision by the race jury, which the team finds incomprehensible. Goncalves received a six-hour penalty and is now positioned way down the order.
Joan Barreda opened today´s "survival" stage. He reached a river crossing at km 40 and got momentarily stuck. Barreda had to push the bike out because of the high water level. Cyril Despres and Marc Coma, who had started behind the Spaniard, therefore caught him. The trio carried on together. Despres then made a navigation error and plenty of riders joined the front-runners.
That was pretty much the story of the stage. The route was beautiful, but not very difficult in terms of riding aspects. It was dusty and overtaking was close to impossible. Barreda ended the day a well-deserved fifth, promoting him to 11th overall.
Paulo Goncalves began the stage as 16th. He was confident in the morning to make up ground. Then came the jury decision. He understandbly found it hard to concentrate afterwards. The six-hour penalty was issued due to alleged unauthorised outside assistance. The penalty refers to stage eight, when Goncalves first got stuck in a mudhole all by himself, before suffering a broken drivetrain caused by a stone.
In this situation rider No. 15 accused Goncalves of receiving outside assistance. Other riders who came by at that point, and who were in direct competition with the Portuguese, do not confirm such incident. Still the jury trusted the accusations, robbing the rider and the team of any hopes of a top result overall.
Jose Manuel Pellicer had a good day on the way to Arequipa. He made no mistakes and has improved considerably in the standings. Zé Hélio was also performing well, both riders are now sitting in the top twenty.
The riders are on their own tonight, no service is allowed in the survival bivaouc. Barreda starts tomorrow´s stage as fifth. Things will be real difficult and interesting, with the dunes of Nasca and a special of 245 kilometres awaiting the field.
2012/01/13 | 15:17 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/SPEEDBRAIN