After racing a Honda at the Dakar Rally for ten years, Joan Barreda will make the switch to Hero MotoSports for the 2024 edition. Hero had announced a partnership with Monster Energy two days before confirming Barreda, himself a Monster-sponsored athlete.
Barreda was previously a member of the Monster Energy Honda Rally Team before becoming a privateer for the 2023 rally, though he continued to race a Honda CRF450 with the factory team’s blessing. Competing under the Monster Energy JB Team banner, he won Stage #4 before his Dakar ended with a crash and fractured lumbar vertebra four legs later; Barreda was eighth in the general ranking prior to his retirement. Ironically, Hero won that stage with Barreda’s new team-mate Ross Branch.
Partly because of his injury, he did not run the rest of the World Rally-Raid Championship after Dakar. Honda also leased their independent bike to fellow Spaniard Tosha Schareina, who impressed by winning the Desafío Ruta 40 in August.
The forty-year-old hopes the move can provide him with some better fortune. Although he has thirty stage wins, just three short of the record for a bike set by Stéphane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres and twice as many as the next active rider (Toby Price‘s fifteen), Barreda has never finished higher than fifth in 2017 and 2022. During his decade at Honda, he had four top-ten finishes while retiring five times, mainly due to crashes brought upon by his notably aggressive riding style.
Hero is a relatively young factory team in the top level of rally raid, but was competitive with Branch in the 2023 World Rally-Raid Championship. Branch finished fourth in points with three stage wins, including two at Dakar. The team’s other full-time rider Sebastian Bühler suffered a litany of mechanical problems that led to an eleventh-place points finish. Joaquim Rodrigues only raced at Dakar due to injuries. All three riders will remain with the team in 2024.
The Indian manufacturer will be Barreda’s fourth different bike at Dakar. He made his debut in 2011 with Aprilia before running the next two rallies with Husqvarna. While he won five stages as a Husqvarna rider, including four in 2013, he fell short of the top ten in both years. Wolfgang Fischer, the current manager for Hero, led the Husqvarna programme at the time, while Paulo Gonçalves was Barreda’s team-mate at both Husqvarna and Honda before joining Hero for what was tragically his final Dakar in 2020.
The 2024 Dakar Rally, Barreda’s fourteenth, begins on 5 January.