Joan Barreda Bort says that pushing to the limit was “the only option” after losing a huge amount of time in stage 1B.
Barreda streaked to a 5 and a half minute victory over Sam Sunderland and Kevin Benavides in Monday’s 338 km special.
This win brought him from P17 in the overall rankings after stage 1B to the rear of the top 10. He now sits 20 minutes off the lead, which is currently held by Sam Sunderland.
The Spaniard encountered trouble during Sunday’s special. Following the 240 km checkpoint, Barreda dropped away from the 4th place and 2 and a half minutes from the lead. By the time he reached the 280 km time check, the Spaniard had sunken to the 28th place. He seemed to have experienced navigation issues, having reported later that he struggled to find the next waypoint.
“Yesterday I had to do the opening but arriving in the area the waypoint was tricky to find,” Barreda commented. “So, I tried to remain really focused and follow the route in the roadbook, but finally, we didn’t arrive at the waypoint… So, it’s difficult to interpret sometimes.
“They say that with the roadbook in Saudi Arabia that it is most important to follow the route, but this time it wasn’t like that. It was difficult because we tried to come back and make the right choice again. But it was like a loop, always making tracks in the same place and we didn’t find the waypoint. Finally, we managed to find it and finish the stage, but it was really hard mentally.”
After this disaster, Barreda made a comeback that kept him in contention for the 2022 Dakar Rally. To achieve this, he needed to push hard – perhaps harder than other riders at this point in the race.
“Today the only option was to push after the big mistake yesterday, but we are only on the second day,” Barreda commented. “For sure, we will have lots of long days with difficult navigation. So, for me today was good to recover a good feeling. Riding on the dunes is always fun, so I tried to enjoy riding all the stage.”
Twenty minutes off the lead is a great margin to come back from. However, Barreda is optimistic with plenty of time left in the rally.
“For sure, it is a lot of time and a big gap, but the most important thing is that we still have ten days in front of us. We will try to push. We have worked a lot during all the year, but now we are here on the Dakar and we are going to try and put all that effort in.”