OiLibya Morocco Rally 2013
Stage 6, The Unseen tracks, 285 km in total, 219 km Special stage
Goncalves is Rally World Champion
Paulo Goncalves has won the OiLybia Morocco Rally, final round of the FIM Cross Country World Championship, and taken the world title from his arch rival Marc Coma, the defending champion.
"Speedy" Goncalves aboard his HRC Honda and KTM pilot Coma produced a nail-biter on the closing 219 kilometre long special stage, with the lead and therefore the virtual title outcome changing several times. In the end, after one of the most dramatic finishes in the recent history of raid rally racing, Goncalves prevailed by winning the rally - and capturing his first-ever world championship. The Portuguese finished today´s stage in fifth position, one place ahead of Coma, sealing the crown by 3:50 minutes over his Catalan competitor.
Paulo Goncalves: "I´m over the moon to clinch the title at the final race for Speedbrain. We´ve shown before at the previous five races that we have the winning speed everywhere. The team has always done a great job, we were able to keep the title fight open with our Speedbrain bike against World Champ Marc Coma all the way until this week´s final showdown. It´s even more exciting to have my team prepare our new Honda CRF450 Rally in the usual perfect way. It gave me the confidence to attack. I began today´s final stage with a very small advantage and managed to keep it. It was a super narrow title decision, I had to give it all. Many thanks to Speedbrain and to Honda for the brilliant bike, also to my friend and teammate Joan Barreda for his perfect teamplay."
Joan Barreda: "Congratulations to Paulo! I´m extremely pumped for him, being able to earn the rewards of a very strong and consistent season. For myself it was important to see where I stand after nine months not competing in rally racing. I trained hard and I´m happy to win three stages and to finish the race on the podium. Morocco is a tough and tight race. It´s good to see I could help Paulo. Today I wanted to go to the front, but I hit the ground soon after the start and lost minutes while repairing my bike. I came from behind and was able to get back to the front before my navigation device stopped working as a result of the crash. Marc could pass and take second place away from me."
Goncalves won two of the six stages in Morocco, his teammate Joan Barreda won three stages. The Iberian Speedbrain Honda pair dominated the proceedings from the word go, shocking the field with their speed and coolness. The title win is a remarkable feat for Speedbrain mastermind Wolfgang Fischer and his whole crew as well as for Honda, who returned to rally racing with an official factory effort just 15 months ago.
Goncalves meanwhile had successfully raced the first five rounds of the 2013 World Championship aboard the Bavarian Speedbrain 450 Rally machine. He won one round with the in-house developed rally weapon and kept Coma honest all the way to the finale in Morocco.
In preparation of the Rally Dakar, Speedbrain with its knowledge and top riders, and HRC Honda with their brand new Honda CRF450 Rally, created a winning combination. It works either way, as over 450cc World Cup winner Juan Carlos Salvatierra has shown. The Bolivian rode three races of the World Cup season with a Honda and three with a Speedbrain 450 Rally. Eventually he took the title, just like Goncalves did today.
Results Stage 6:
1. Ben Grabham (AUS, KTM) 2:26:39 hrs
2. Helder Rodrigues (PRT, Honda) +00:01:18
3. Kurt Caselli (USA, KTM) +00:02:41
4. Jeremias Israel (CHL, Speedbrain) +00:03:00
5. Paulo Goncalves (PRT, Honda) +00:04:56
6. Marc Coma (ESP, KTM) +00:08:26
7. Frans Verhoeven (NLD, Yamaha) +00:11:06
8. Alessandro Botturi (ITA, Speedbrain) +00:16:40
9. Joan Barreda (ESP, Honda) +00:17:14
10. Olivier Pain (FRA, Yamaha) +00:18:35
1. Paulo Goncalves (PRT, Honda) 17:08:59 hrs
2. Marc Coma (ESP, KTM) +00:03:44
3. Joan Barreda (ESP, Honda) +00:07:39
4. Chaleco Lopez (CHL, KTM) +00:32:58
5. Sam Sunderland (GBR, Honda) +00:45:57
6. Ben Grabham (AUS, KTM) +00:55:08
7. Kurt Caselli (USA, KTM) +01:04:32
8. Olivier Pain (FRA, Yamaha) +01:06:09
9. Alessandro Botturi (ITA, Speedbrain) +01:08:58
10. Frans Verhoeven (NLD, Yamaha) +01:41:38