Day 11: Marathon Stage
Cyril Despres went into Stage 11 of the Dakar Rally on Thursday with the slimmest of overall margins just 21 seconds ahead of KTM factory teammate Marc Coma. At the end of the 534 km timed split section, Despres was first across the line and had extended his lead to 2 minutes 22 over his rival.
Gerard Farres Guell of Spain shocked everyone by finishing just 1 minute 39 behind Despres in second place while Johnny Aubert, competing in his first Dakar Rally on a series model KTM 450 Rally Replica bike posted his best stage result so far with fourth. After winning Stage 10 and breaking the KTM stranglehold on the Rally, Speedbrain Husqvarna’s scored another top five result. EWC regular, Alessandro Botturi was 12th.
New Zealand’s Chris Birch finished 17th, Stan Watt was 34th.
Results Stage 111, Cyril Despres, France, KTM 4 hours 03 minutes 37 seconds 2, Gerard Farres Guell, Spain, KTM at 1 minute 39 3, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM at 2:01 4, Johnny Aubert, France, KTM at 3:30 5, Joan Barreda Bort, Spain, Husqvarna at 4:53 17, Chris Birch, New Zealand, KTM at 20:49
Dakar Day 8: Mud Glorious Mud!
Today the race for the lead got turned on its head once again as this time it was Cyril Despres’ turn to fall foul. Recent localized flash floods created a mud hole that wasn’t marked on the rider’s road books. First to open the road was Marc Coma who somehow cleverly spotted the danger that lay ahead and took avoiding action. Next on the road, Despres, wasn’t so lucky as he hit the hazard head on. Losing upwards of 17 minutes trying to dig his way out, Cyril watched his healthy advantage disappear. On appeal, organizers awarded part of this back to leave Coma with a smaller race lead than he’d originally hoped for, but it’s the lead nonetheless. Today was proof that in the Dakar anything can happen…
Today Aubert finished 11th to bump his way up to 17th overall.
Chris Birch was 35th and sits 39th overall.
Stan Watt was 59th and is now 41st overall.
Stage Eight (amended results)1, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM 5 hours 03:52 2, Rubin Faria, Portugal, KTM at 7:00 minutes 3, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha at 7:10 4, Joan Barreda Bort, Spain, Husqvarna at 8:44 5, Stefan Svitko, Slovakia, KTM at 9:09 6, Cyril Despres, France, KTM at 9:14
Overall Results after Stage Eight1, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM 23 hours 24 minutes 18 seconds 2, Cyril Despres, France, KTM at 1 minute 26 3, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha at 49:01 4, David Casteu, France, Yamaha at 1:09:52 5, Paolo Goncalves, Portugal, Husqvarna at 1:12:11 6, Jordi Viladoms, Spain, KTM at 1:12:27
Dakar Day 6: Cancelled
Bad weather (read rain and snow!) has resulted in the organisers being forced to cancel day six of the rally resulting in an unexpected rest day for competitors. The bad weather has left conditions unsafe for competitors to cross the Andes Cordillera Mountains. Situated at approximately 4700m above sea level the area was harshly hit by snowstorms overnight. Organisers instead will organise a convoy for all vehicles, which after the border crossing will follow the main road to Copiapo, Chile for the one rest day on Saturday.Overall Results after Stage Five (Stage Six cancelled because of bad weather) 1, Cyril Despres, France, KTM 14 hours 19 minutes 2, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM at 9 minutes 51 seconds 3, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha at 247:56 4, Chaleco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia, at 49:00 5, Paolo Goncalves, Portugal, Husqvarna, 54:47 (6 minutes penalty) 21, Johnny Aubert, France, KTM, 2:09:03 46, Stan Watt, IRL, KTM 47, Chris Birch, New Zealand, KTM
Dakar Day 5: Despres Dominates the Dunes!
In the first real test of the sand in the rally, it was a reversal of order from Day 4 as Despres got the better of Coma to clinch victory in the 265km stage along the white sands of Fiambalá. Rodrigues is 3rd overall but is now over 47mins behind the leading duo.
Johnny Aubert had another good ride and improves to 21st overall.
Donegal’s Stan Watt is 46th overall one spot in front of Chris Birch in 47th.
Cyril Despres: “After the first day, you could have said that lots of other riders were going to be involved in the fight, but in the end, there aren’t too many! The gaps aren’t very big at the moment and we’re playing with gaps of two minutes. Today was easier for me, because I set off behind Coma. Perhaps tomorrow, it will be the opposite. I’ve got a lead over him and it’s a fairly comfortable cushion. Mind you, it can disappear quickly, so I need to keep the same state of mind and the same amount of concentration.”
Dakar Day 4: Coma Fights Back!
After yesterday’s slight detour, Marc Coma kept things very squarely on track to claim the day’s stage win and claw another two minutes out of Cyril Despres’s lead. They now stand 8 minutes 10 seconds apart after nearly 12 hours of timed racing. Although starting sixth on the road, Coma was fastest through the opening Way Point and maintained advantage throughout the 326km special stage. Starting first on the road it was Despres turn to act as road sweeper laying down tracks for others to follow. Maintaing caution on the highest mountain of the rally of 3200m, Despres fought back in the later stages of the day to finish second. Third again went to Sherco’s Frans Verhoeven though Yamaha’s Helder Rodrigues is now third overall some 26 minutes behind Despres.
Dakar rookie Johnny Aubert sits 27th overall. Fellow rookie and extreme enduro specialist Chris Birch had a troubled day and drops to 53rd overall.
Donegal’s Stan Watt continues to show excellent form and after day four is now up to 43rd overall.
Marc Coma: “It was a very tough special, in particular at the beginning with the fast start. Then we had to focus on the navigation and tackle a lot of water in the rivers. I tried to ride at a very fast pace from the beginning, but it was difficult. I was able to overtake a few riders and make up some time on Cyril. Fiambala and many other stages still lie ahead. That is the way things are right now. And I keep on fighting every day.”
Dakar Day 3: Cyril Takes Over
Cyril Despres claims his first stage win of the rally – and it’s massive. Finishing over 8mins clear of 2nd place Frans Verhoeven, he more importantly beats rival Marc Coma by 13mins to now lead the race… Game On!