From last Sunday until today the first round of the FIM Cross Country Rally World Championship took place in the desert of Abu Dhabi. The Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain took part with the Husqvarna TE 449 RR and the riders Joan Barreda and Paulo Gonçalves. Both riders and their bikes had to manage high temperatures of approx. 40° C and the desert of Abu Dhabi with its soft sand and high dunes during the 2000km rally.
At the end the two riders finished 2nd and 3rd in the overall standings. With this performance they proved that the competitors have to keep an eye on the Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain in the future.
The Spaniard Joan Barreda showed from the first leg that his intension was to win the 2012 Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. After the 300km special test on the first day he was only 3:35 min behind the leader in 4th position. In leg 2 he was even able to take the lead of the overall standings. From then on it was a battle between Barreda, the newcomer of the Dakar 2012, and the rally legend Marc Coma. At the end Joan finished in a very strong 2nd place.
The other rider of the Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain Paulo Gonçalves also started very strong in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2012 by finishing 5th in the first leg. On day 2 out in the desert he was able to keep this position and to close the gap to the leading riders. The fact that at the end of day 2 the top 5 riders were separated by only 94 seconds showed how tight the fight at the top of the field was. On day 3 Paulo had a crash when jumped into the bike of a fallen competitor behind a dune, but he was able to repair the damage quickly and climb up to 4th position in the overall standings. On the penultimate day Paulo Gonçalves showed why he is called “Speedy Gonçalves” by catching up over 12 minutes to the leaders. This excellent performance put him into third position which he defended succes sfully on the last day.
1. Marc Coma (KTM) 20h 33’35
2. Joan Barreda (Husqvarna) 20h 43’08
3. Paulo Gonçalves (Husqvarna) 20h 53’59
4. Ruben Faria (KTM) 20h 56’38
5. Jordi Villdamos (KTM) 21h 01’00