Team HRC overcomes various setbacks to make it through the first day of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge with Paulo Gonçalves and Ricky Brabec finishing the special among the front-runners in third and fifth respectively.

The asphalt of the Yas Marina circuit in the pre-rally build-up has given way to the sands of the Al Garbia region in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Riders were today confronted with a 260 kilometre timed special in high-temperature first stage that spanned a total of 404 kilometres.

Rally raid’s top guns let it be known from the start that the flavour of the day was all-out attack. Team HRC, with Joan Barreda at the helm, immediately took command, arriving at refuelling in top positions.
Spaniard Barreda had the misfortune to suffer an electrical fault some 40 km from the finish and dropped valuable time before getting the Honda CRF450 RALLY back on track and finishing the special.

Paulo Gonçalves, stopped briefly to lend a hand and sort out the glitch, conceding some time to his adversaries in the process, which he will hope to make up in tomorrow’s lengthy stage.

American rookie Ricky Brabec, in his maiden outing in the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship, found himself amid top-class competition and put in a worthy debut astride the Honda CRF450 RALLY.

Tomorrow the Liwa Desert will offer the longest stage in the competition with competitors looking to tackle more than 500 kilometres of desert, 279 km of which is against the clock. Start will be as motocross style.

Paulo Goncalves

I had a fairly difficult day today with high temperatures and a lot of sand and dunes. I was having a tough time at the start, but I started to feel better as the speed picked up after the refuelling. I found Juan with a problem with some 40 km still to go and I stopped to help out. I lost a bit of time, but the important thing is to finish. There are four days left and I hope to be in the running for the victory.

Ricky Brabec

My first day here at the rally went good but I made a rookie mistake just trying to ride through the dust and I hit something on the road which popped me up and threw me on my side. Other than that it was a good day and I’m learning the way that the navigation works. I’m riding through the sand dunes and I’m seeing all these faster guys’ lines, how they approach it and how they ride down the back side of them. So today was a good day and hopefully the rest of the rally will be better.

Joan Barreda

Well, in the end it has been a complicated day. I got away very well with a really quick pace right from the start. I had some great riders up ahead and Ipushed really hard and everything was fine until we got up to CP3. Then I had an electric problem and the engine stopped– one of those things that happens. We are at the start and we have still got a whole year ahead, with the same bike and the same characteristics and the engineers are working hard and will be able to sort out any hitches and give us some more security.

Private: Wolfgang Fischer

Team HRC Team Manager

Well, the first stage of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge wasn’t the perfect start for Team HRC. We’ve been very well-prepared to push right from the beginning and Joan was leading at the half-point at the refuelling, but he was unlucky and his bike stopped in the middle of the dunes and there was nothing that he could do. Paulo came and helped him. So, Paulo lost a bit of time and Joan had a really bad day but we will join the race again tomorrow and we’ll try and make up time. Ricky had his first real rally day and did really well. We’ll be looking to claw back some positions in the racing tomorrow.

2015 Cross Countries Rally
Stage Round 1 , 1   Abu Dhabi

Results Stage 1

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 Coma Marc SPA Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM 3:12:54
2 Sunderland Sam 3 GBR Gas Gas Factory Team Gas Gas +1'21
3 Goncalves Paulo POR Team HRC Honda +5'33
4 Faria Ruben 8 POR Husqvarna Factory Rally Team Husqvarna +11'07
5 Brabec Ricky USA Team HRC Honda +11'54
6 Walkner Matthias AUT Red Bull KTM Rally Factory Team KTM +13'59
7 Al Balooshi Mohammed 31 UAE MX Raid Dubai KTM +14'10
8 Quintanilla Pablo CHI KTM Warsaw Rally Team KTM +15'58
10 Salvatierra Juan Carlos BOL KTM Warsaw Rally Team KTM +24'28
21 Barreda Joan SPA Monster Energy Honda Team Honda +1:06'13

Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Team HRC. Stage 1

Team HRC takes part at Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge 2015 with three riders: Portuguese Paulo Goncalves, Spanish Joan Barreda and American Ricky Brabec.
Stage 1

Location Information

The legendary UAE Desert Challenge, one of the world’s most prestigious international cross country rallies founded by Emirati Motorsport legend, former EMSO President and the new FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem back in 1991, and over the years has seen many of the biggest names in international motorsport tackle the… read more.

Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates - View in Google Maps


2021 Matthias Walkner (KTM)
2019 Sam Sunderland (KTM)
2018 Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna)
2017 Sam Sunderland (KTM)
2016 Toby Price (KTM)
2015 Marc Coma (KTM)
2014 Paulo Gonçalves (Honda)