Dakar Rally 2014 Stage 2: San Luis to San Rafael Results – Total: 724 km – Special stage: 359 km
1. Sam Sunderland, GBR (Honda) 3:42:10
2. Chaleco Lopez, CHL (KTM) 3:42:49
3. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 3:44:10
4. Ruben Faria, PRT (KTM) 3:46:17
5. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco) 3:48:01
6. Ben Grabham, AUS (KTM) 3:49:25
7. David Casteu, FRA (KTM) 3:49:37
8. Paulo Goncalves, PRT (Honda) 3:49:55
9. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 3:50:33
10. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 3:50:53

Sam Sunderland     1st   3:42'10   	TEAM HRC "I’m really happy. The bike was fantastic, it’s been a great day with a mixture of different terrains, speed and technical zones. We got to the dunes which I get on really well with. It wasn’t a really long stretch, but it went well. I crossed the river which was deeper than I had expected, which got a few laughs out of the folk. But I’m really pleased for my first Dakar victory and to continue Honda’s winning streak."

Sam Sunderland the victor on Dakar 2014 Stage Two

2014 Dakar Rally Overall Standings after Stage 2
1. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 6:09:41
2. Chaleco Lopez, CHL (KTM) 6:11:44
3. Sam Sunderland, GBR (Honda) 6:12:14
4. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco) 6:15:28
5. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 6:16:41
6. Ruben Faria, PRT (KTM) 6:16:59
7. Paulo Goncalves, PRT (Honda) 6:17:51
8. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 6:18:04
9. Ben Grabham, AUS (KTM) 6:19:46
10. David Casteu, FRA (KTM) 6:20:40

A discrete but emerging rider in the discipline up to today, Sam Sunderland made a grand entrance into the club of elite riders by brilliantly winning his first special stage on the Dakar. The provisional podium, still dominated by Barreda, boasts two Hondas.

Sometimes promises come into being before they are actually made. Until today, Sam Sunderland had occasionally made an impact on various legs of the rally-raid world cup, by picking up respectable finishes and even some stage victories. However, to date, he has had a frustrating time on the Dakar, dropping out after three days of racing in 2012 and withdrawing a month before last year, due to fracturing both his wrists! Despite this double dose of bad luck, the Honda team did not hesitate to reserve him a bike for its ambitious Dakar programme. This inspired choice has been handsomely rewarded on only the rally’s second day, with his dazzling victory between San Luis and San Rafael.

Having started well behind his team-mate, Joan Barreda, the 23-year old Englishman superbly overtook Michael Metgeand Juan Pedreroon the first part of the route. However, it was in the portion of dunes towards the end of the special that the resident of Dubai showed his youthful but confident and masterful experience of sand. On the finishing line he marvellously grabbed his first special stage victory, after only 4 days spent on the Dakar in total and can now claim to be a serious outsider for the podium… as long as he can maintain this excellent form and pace, as well as avoiding mistakes.

Joan Barreda did not make the slightest mistake either, today. Having opened the way, the Spaniard was not overawed by his status as race leader, keeping his pursuers at a distance before reaching the finishing line alone. His performance did not bring him the second stage win he was aiming for, due to Sunderland’s superb feat, but it was by no means disappointing, since Marc Coma lost several minutes as well as the second place in the general standings, whilst Cyril Despres dropped to 8th place in the overall hierarchy, 8’23’’ behind Barreda. In fact, the only current threat that intensified for the general standings leader today was that of Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez, who was the second quickest today, and the nearest challenger to the Spaniard, 2’03’’ behind.

It has not taken long for order to be re-established in the quad category. Yesterday, Marcos Patronelli was beaten by Ignacio Casale, a serious challenger for the title. However, the title holder soon took control of the race. The Argentinean flag-bearer arrived in San Luis with an extra line on his roll of honour: it was the 15th special stage victory on the Dakar for the Yamaha rider, who boasts a lead of 3’50” over his nearest rival, Lucas Bonetto.

KTM Australia (Grabham Report)

Australian KTM ace Ben Grabham has logged his best Dakar result to date on the second day of the world’s biggest off-road event, finishing an impressive sixth in today’s trek from San Luis to San Rafael, Argentina.

Today’s competitive stage featured a super-fast opening before delivering riders to the dunes for the first time, and Brit Sam Sunderland won the day ahead of Chilean Francesco Lopez Contardo and Spanish Joan Barreda Bort, who leads the event overall.

The famous Dakar Rally is the biggest off-road racing challenge on the planet, and this year’s 14-day epic traverses an 8,743 kilometre route through Argentina, Bolivia and Chile with a total of 5,228 kilometres of competitive stage.

Bathurst resident Grabham finished a spectacular 15th in his rookie year in 2013, and now just two stages into the 2014 epic, his KTM Australia 450 Rally already sits 9th in overall classification in readiness for tomorrow, and the start of the first Marathon Stage.

Marathon Stages can be critical points in the event as riders are denied team support overnight, so they must take special care of the tyres and the bike.

Ben Grabham – “Day 2 was a 724k day with a 359k special. I had a very dusty ride apart from 40 kilometres of dune section in the middle. I made a few errors in the dunes just getting stuck but other than that I had a pretty clean day finishing 6th which gives me an even better starting position tomorrow. The bike is going good and I’m getting more used to it the more kilometres we do. It’s really hot here again today, in the 40s so it's pretty tough going but my Shotz hydration is working well. Tomorrow is the first day of the Marathon stage, that is where we have no support crew for two days and only access to what we are carrying. We don't even get to see the crew at night as they are camping in a location no one knows so tomorrow it’ll be important to try and save the bike and tyres to last two days.”

Ben Grabham – “Day 2 was a 724k day with a 359k special. I had a very dusty ride apart from 40 kilometres of dune section in the middle. I made a few errors in the dunes just getting stuck but other than that I had a pretty clean day finishing 6th which gives me an even better starting position tomorrow. The bike is going good and I’m getting more used to it the more kilometres we do. It’s really hot here again today, in the 40s so it’s pretty tough going but my Shotz hydration is working well. Tomorrow is the first day of the Marathon stage, that is where we have no support crew for two days and only access to what we are carrying. We don’t even get to see the crew at night as they are camping in a location no one knows so tomorrow it’ll be important to try and save the bike and tyres to last two days.”

Team HRC

After the win yesterday for Joan Barreda, today it was the turn of Sam Sunderland to take the stage victory. The British rider was a worthy winner of the Dakar’s second special, where the Honda CRF450 RALLY remains in top positions and where Joan Barreda continues to command the leader-board.

The second stage of the Rally Dakar brought the riders from San Luís to San Rafael, taking in a total of 354 km against the clock, and including a range of diverse terrain types; hard ground, rocks and even some 70 km of navigation through the challenging dunes of Nihuil.

What a stage victory it was for Sam Sunderland too! The British rider, who clocked up the stage’s fastest times, seemed particularly at ease, especially in the second half of the day, when he was able to prove his deft handling skills in the dunes. The result, his first victory in the Dakar, puts Sunderland up into third overall position.

Joan Barreda was first away today and in his usual style, put pedal to the metal, and completed an almost hitch-free stage to continue to widen the deficit over his rivals in the overall standings. Barreda managed to hit a cow which was blocking the way and the impact broke the roadbook, forcing him to use it manually. In spite of this Barreda powered on to consolidate his place at the head of the leader-board.

Paulo Gonçalves, determined to finish among the leaders, was running a fine stage until a problem with the gasoline’s vapor lock held him up and forced him back to an eight place finish. The Portuguese rider is now seventh in the overall standings.

Hélder Rodrigues finished in fifteenth place, and Javier Pizzolito, who fell in the dunes, was able to finish in twenty-first place.

After an excellent performance yesterday, the riders that Honda supports through Honda Brasil and Honda Argentina today saw positive results for Jean Azevedo, Laia Sanz and Cacha Rodríguez, all on the new Honda CRF450 RALLY. All of them were up in the first thirty places. De Azevedo is 23rd overall, Laia Sanz holds 26th place and Pablo Rodríguez is in 29th.

Sam Sunderland 1st 3:42’10 TEAM HRC - ”I’m really happy. The bike was fantastic, it’s been a great day with a mixture of different terrains, speed and technical zones. We got to the dunes which I get on really well with. It wasn’t a really long stretch, but it went well. I crossed the river which was deeper than I had expected, which got a few laughs out of the folk. But I’m really pleased for my first Dakar victory and to continue Honda’s winning streak.”

Joan Barreda 3rd +02’00 TEAM HRC - ”I knew that it was going to be a day to be on the look-out for animals. When I was about 70 km away from the finish-line, with the big hazards out of the way and the navigation through the dunes completed, I crossed a river with low-visibility and came across a cow on the curve. I tried to avoid it, but it came running out and I ran into it. It wasn’t a great impact, but it broke the higher part of the navigation, and I had to work the roadbook manually. The first part was really speedy and I was opening a gap over the rivals. From kilometre 250 to 300 I had to stay really focused, which I’m very happy with.”

Paulo Goncalves     8th   +07'45   	TEAM HRC "It was a really hard day’s rally. I had a couple of issues with the gas in the dunes and I lost a bit of time. It could have been a better day, but what the heck... I managed to finish and that’s the most important thing. Tomorrow we start out from good positions so the fight will go on."

Paulo Goncalves 8th +07’45 TEAM HRC
“It was a really hard day’s rally. I had a couple of issues with the gas in the dunes and I lost a bit of time. It could have been a better day, but what the heck… I managed to finish and that’s the most important thing. Tomorrow we start out from good positions so the fight will go on.”

Javier Pizzolito 21th +21’22 TEAM HRC - ”It was a beautiful stage, with a lot of kilometres and much dust. I went off with Hélder, and tried to push hard. I made a slight navigational error and I fell, which was worse for the bike than for me, as I’m fine. It could have gone better for me today, but considering I made it, I’m happy.”

KTM Report

Lopez: “The second stage was very good. The first part was very fast and it was very nice to get into the dunes. Today second place is good and the bike was good, very good, in the sand.”

Chaleco Lopez was the fastest of the four KTM factory riders with an excellent second place in the stage, trailing the leader by just 39 seconds.

Lopez, of Chile came in behind stage winner, British rider Sam Sunderland and is now second in the overall standings some two minutes behind the overall leader Joan Barreda of Spain.

Lopez: “The second stage was very good. The first part was very fast and it was very nice to get into the dunes. Today second place is good and the bike was good, very good, in the sand.”

Marc Coma, who went out second on Monday, had some difficulties with a stone wedged in his bike but still managed to finish in ninth overall some 8.23 behind the leader. He is now seventh overall with a deficit of 7 minutes.

Coma: “Today was not a perfect day. We had some small problems when I got a stone wedged between the gearbox and the gear lever. I had to stop to take it out. The bike was working okay but it cost me some minutes - but it is still a long race.”

Coma: “Today was not a perfect day. We had some small problems when I got a stone wedged between the gearbox and the gear lever. I had to stop to take it out. The bike was working okay but it cost me some minutes – but it is still a long race.”

Overall it was a good day for the factory team, competing on the brand new 
KTM 450 RALLY machine. Ruben Faria of Portugal was fourth in the stage and is now sixth overall and Jordi Viladoms was eleventh in the stage and also maintaining a solid eleventh overall.

Faria: “Today was a good day for me. In the beginning there was a lot of dust. I started one minute behind Ben Grabham and I rode behind him for 300 km but in the end it was a good stage. I finished fourth and that is good for the overall and the KTM bike is amazing. It’s only the second day but I am happy to be here.”

Faria: “Today was a good day for me. In the beginning there was a lot of dust. I started one minute behind Ben Grabham and I rode behind him for 300 km but in the end it was a good stage. I finished fourth and that is good for the overall and the KTM bike is amazing. It’s only the second day but I am happy to be here.”

KTM supported rider Ben Grabham of Australia continued to deliver a strong ride and finished the stage in sixth just seven minutes behind the leader. He is currently ninth overall.

Grabham: “Today was quite interesting and it was a decent 360 km stage. I followed in the dust for the first 100 k’s but once I was over in the dunes I had a lot of fun. This was one of those days where it would have been easy to make a mistake. I’m still learning from some of the faster boys in the dunes, I made a few mistakes but all in all, it was a good day for me.”

The other KTM-supported riders Kuba Przygonski of Poland and Riaan van Niekerk of South Africa finished thirteenth and nineteenth in the stage and are currently fourteenth and eighteenth overall. Przygonski is 17 minutes 42 behind in the overall standings and Van Niekerk is trailing by 26 minutes 04.

Kuba Przygonski: Today was a better stage than yesterday but for the first 170 km I was riding in the dust and it was really hard to pass. then I tried to push in the dunes and this second part of the stage was quite fast.”

The stage took the riders from San Luis to San Rafael on a ride of 724 km including a 365 km timed special. The first part was the fastest of this year’s rally and then riders entered the firm grey sand dunes of Nihuil for the last 100km, which tested their technical skills.

Team Manager Alex Doringer said he was happy to have his riders in safely and said Stage Two had been a good result for Ruben and Villadoms.

“Grabham had a fantastic ride and Riaan is improving every day,” he said. Speaking of the marathon stage, Doringer added: “It will be tricky. It will be very rough on riders and bikes and we’ll know more after the first stage of the marathon. The guys will have to use their brains, not go flat out and think about how they can take care of their bikes and manage the second stage of the marathon.”

Stage Three can easily be a decisive day for the riders. It is the first half of the first of two marathon stages and takes them from San Rafael to San Juan over a total of 665 km, including a scheduled 373 km of timed special, which organizers have reduced by 100 km. Riders are not allowed any outside mechanical help on the marathon stages and must ride with caution to preserve but tires and bikes.

Yamaha Report

The second day of the 2014 Dakar Rally proved to be a challenging one for Yamaha’s Dakar riders in Argentina as they tackled Stage 2, San Luis to San Rafael. The day’s riding included some of the fastest sections of the rally and the competitors first taste of sand dunes. Yamaha Factory Racing rider Cyril Despres had a day to forget after a fall cost several minutes. Luckily the defending Dakar champion was unhurt and quick to continue on his Yamaha YZ450F machine, wrapping up the stage in tenth to take eight overall at the end of the day.

Olivier Pain was the next rider to finish, taking 12th on the 359km Special stage to sit 13th overall. Yamaha Netherlands Verhoeven rider Frans Verhoeven completed a second steady day to finish the stage in 16th, taking 15th overall. Michael Metge was the last Yamaha Factory Racing rider in the Special stage rankings, taking 22nd. Metge’s GPs is currently being investigated after the Frenchman was penalised 41 minutes for an alleged late arrival at the bivouac yesterday.

Cyril Despres – “I arrived a little too quickly on a note in the road book at around kilometre 250 and went over the handlebars. Fortunately it was a soft landing so the bike wasn’t damaged but it took me a while to dust myself down and get going again and inevitably I lost time. Overall a day to forget.”

Olivier Pain – “The stage started off really fast and finished that way too, but in between there was a nice section of dunes, a little like Le Touquet, which was really fun to ride. I got a little stuck in the dust early on but made up some time in the sand and as a result moved up a little in the overall rankings. Now I’m approaching the top 10 and am well placed on the eve of the first marathon stage.”

Frans Verhoeven – “Mainly fast today with some dunes and a few river beds, quite technical in places. Like Olivier I got a little stuck in other peoples dust but that’s part of the race. In the past I might have got overexcited in that kind of situation and tried to overtake in an inappropriate place but now I’m older but wiser. My intention here isn’t to take chances and put in a good time one day only to lose it the next. This year my strategy is to build my race slowly but surely and see where that leaves me at the final finish.”

Michael Metge – “It was an OK day until I got into the bivouac and discovered that the officials had given me a 41 minute penalty for supposedly arriving late at the bivouac yesterday evening – something I don’t understand at all as I came in at the same time as Cyril. Currently the organisers are looking at my GPS to check when I actually arrived and hopefully all that should be cleared up this evening. It kind of took the fun out the day…”

Speedbrain Report

The second stage of the recent Rally Dakar held on Monday proved to be a major test in the dunes of Nihuil.

The long special stage started with a high-speed section before the final 100 km demanded a lot from the riders – both in terms of riding skills and stamina. The grey sand at Nihuil is extremely deep and the shape of the dunes can be really harsh. Navigation was critical.

The Speedbrain customer race team was ready for the challenge. Chilean Jeremias Israel led the quintet with a careful yet commanding ride. The former Motocross pro improved nicely in the standings, breaking into the top twenty. Meanwhile Juan Carlos Salvatierra and his support rider Paolo Ceci had to stop for a minor repair job during the special. They acted as teamplayers and could continue without losing too much time. Unfortunately Alessandro Botturi was less lucky. The Italian got lost in a hard-to-maneuver part of the dunes. Portugal´s Pedro Oliviera finished the day in the upper third of the classification.

Jeremias Israel Esquerre: “We rode high-speed at first through the dust. Then came the dunes and very deep sand. The shape of the dunes was really harsh, very difficult and navigation was so important. My steady ride helped me to gain ground. I´m fully motivated for the next days and I´m happy our team works that well.”

Tuesday marks the first part of the first marathon stage. The total distance is 665 km, 373 km of them are against the clock. The finish is right at the bivouac. The riders will climb up to 4,300 metres altitude.

Laia Sanz holds down 26th place

Laia Sanz holds down 26th place

Tomorrow – Stage Three – San Rafael-San Juan – Liaison: 292km – Special: 373 km – Total: 665 km

The Aconcagua as a landmark – The competitors of the 2014 Dakar will experience their first taste of the mountains by passing through the Pre-Andes. The Aconcagua Volcano stands 6,962m high and will observe the progress of the vehicles, of which a part will rehearse their high mountain driving techniques. The motorcyclists will climb up 4,300 metres during their special stage, on a ridgeline where they will have the impression of towering over the whole of America ! The descent will bring them back to the tough reality of the riders of the Dakar, as they will only have finished the first part of this marathon stage. They will have to ensure the mechanics for their own vehicles at the isolated bivouac which has been set up for them.

Dakar 2014 Stage Three Map

Dakar 2014 Stage Three Map