Quite some time after Stage 4 of the 2017 Dakar Rally concluded, the ASO handed down massive penalties to a bevy of Honda riders, including the HRC factory team, to the tune of roughly an hour each.
The crime? The ASO says that Joan Barreda, Michael Metge, Paulo Gonçalves, Ricky Brabec, Franco Caimi, and Pedro Bianchi Prata all refueled in an prohibited zone during Thursday’s Stage 4.
This development drops Joan Barreda from first to seventh in the standings, roughly 40 minutes behind the new race leader: Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla. While not an insurmountable time deficit, it will require a herculean effort from any of the Honda riders to overcome this setback.
Honda does have the ability to appeal the decision, though early indications from the ASO suggest that the refueling in a prohibited space is a pretty cut-and-dry issue. Still, we will have to wait and see what news Friday brings us in this developing story.
It should be noted though, rally raid racing is as much a sport on the course, as it is a rigorous exercise in precision. This has been a lesson that HRC has been learning the hard way, the past few years racing The Dakar.