Is he Dakar, the toughest race in the world, so there is no doubt that we would find a lot of heroes and heroines. 90% of them, anonymous, of course. Lost, injured, disenchanted pilots, who lost all their enthusiasm on the first day to finish the race or, even worse, participants who lost everything on the last day, that is, today, in the stage that closed the marathon desert rally for Saudi Arabia.
We all know that the winners are the Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah, with Toyota, about which a lot of doubts weigh despite the extraordinary pilot he is on the sand, and the British Sam Sunderland, which has achieved the feat of converting a Spanish brand GasGas, a firm with a trick, acquired by the Austrian KTM, in the new champion of this difficult test.
Barrada, the MVP
But everyone agrees on something after these two very hard weeks in Dakar and that is that the Dakarian MVP 2022 has been the pilot Castellón Joan Barred, 38 years old, leader of the official ‘team’ Sling, who has managed to finish the Dakar in a brilliant, very expensive and sacrificed fifth position (the same one he achieved in 2017), after getting lost, like almost all the participants, in the first stage, penalizing with 40 minutes of delay and, worse still, breaking his left clavicle, fracture and pain that he has carried throughout the two weeks of competition.
Barreda is an almost unique Dakarian model. Moreover, it is the third driver with the most wins (29), behind the veterans and already mythical French Stephane Peterhansel and Cyril Després, with 33 wins. But the driver from Torreblanca (Castellón) continues to resist victory, triumph, the rally he loves the most “and the one I spend the last seven months of the year on, without resting or on weekends, preparing myself to try to win it ”.
Barreda believes, in fact, that the fifth place “running as I have run is very good and has a lot of merit”, but “I came to win”. In 2017, in his first top-5, he was penalized one hour; In 2022, in his second fifth place, he broke his collarbone and lost 40 minutes “in a cheating stage, as everyone has recognized”.
“Of course I’m proud of what I’ve done! of course! but whoever knows the pilots knows that, when one prepares to win, everything that is not winning, knows little, “said Barreda. at the end of the last stage and to thank the Honda team for all the help he has received, slightly modifying the handlebars of his motorcycle, slowing it down a bit, closer to his body so that he would not have to make so much effort with his left arm damaged by the fracture of the clavicle.
Don’t throw in the towel
“I remain, yes, with the mentality that I have had, with the work carried out throughout the year, with the ambition that I have shown, that I have shown myself, in the face of adversity, by never shooting! the towel, with the help received from the team and being able to finish in the top five which, I insist, given my physical condition is praiseworthy, but I wanted to win”, insists one of the great Dakarians.
Barreda does not know what he will do from now on. Well, yes, for now, rest. “I have to heal this fracture and all the blows I’ve given myself from so many falls I’ve suffered from not being able to ride properly.” What’s more, Barreda once again thanked two of his greatest rivals for victory, Luciano Benavides (Honda) Y Toby Price (KTM) who, last Thursday, “in the toughest stage I have ever experienced in a Dakar”, stopped when they saw him fallen, almost buried, he and his Honda, in the sand, without any possibility of getting up and, of course , to put his motorcycle on foot. “If they don’t stop, if they don’t stop, If they didn’t help me, I wouldn’t have been able to finish the rally. Thank you for your solidarity, it was admirable”.
“I continue to get on the bike with the illusion of the first day and I feel fast and with a winning mentality”
And it is that if anyone knows what it is to suffer in the Dakar, hence the merit of ending up being the MVP of 2022, it is Joan Barreda. Since 2018, the rider from Castellón has been persecuted and very harshly due to bad luck. In 2018, he suffered a double fracture of his left wrist. What’s more, the doctors recommended that he not run and he ran, yes! Then he had to operate four times for that injury. “The wrist bones had exploded in such a way that it seemed impossible for them to regenerate and regain their normal shape. I suffered a lot and, for two years, I always ran undercover ”.
In 2020, things did not improve much either, because he broke two ribs a week before the Dakar started. “I wanted to die. Out of rage, of course. When these misfortunes happen to you, after months and months of training, you enter into a negative dynamic and you don’t see anything good. And, in 2021, when after a good first week and before what could have been his first real chance of ‘championship’, suffered a strong blow to the head that ruined, again, the feat.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do, really, but I I’m still very excited about winning the Dakar“, commented Barreda before leaving Saudi Arabia. “I continue to get on the bike with a winning mentality, with desire, with the illusion of the first day, even though, later, the race is very hard. I feel fast and I want to continue, but I have to rest a bit and meditate.”