Provisional results – Dakar 2014, Stage 6:
1. Alain Duclos (FRA, Sherco) 04:21:34 hrs
2. Marc Coma (ESP, KTM) +00:01:15
3. Michael Metge (FRA, Yamaha) +00:01:49
4. Joan Barreda (ESP, Honda) +00:02:22
5. Cyril Despres (FRA, Yamaha) +00:02:55
6. Helder Rodrigues (PRT, Honda) +00:04:21
7. Stefan Svitko (SVK, KTM) +00:07:46
8. Jakub Przygonski (POL, KTM) +00:08:12
9. Jordi Viladoms (ESP, KTM) +00:10:26
10. Jeremias Israel Esquerre (CHL, Speedbrain) +00:11:13

MARC COMA

MARC COMA

Provisional overall standings:
1. Marc Coma (ESP, KTM) 23:08:00 hrs
2. Joan Barreda (ESP, Honda) +00:42:17
3. Alain Duclos (FRA, Sherco) +01:00:58
4. Jordi Viladoms (ESP, KTM) +01:08:09
5. Jeremias Israel Esquerre (CHL, Speedbrain) +01:33:28
6. Olivier Pain (FRA, Yamaha) +01:43:08
7. Jakub Przygonski (POL, KTM) +01:49:59
8. Helder Rodrigues (PRT, Honda) +02:01:24
9. David Casteu (FRA, KTM) +02:12:05
10. Daniel Gouet (CHL, Honda) +02:17:26

Today was the last stage before tomorrow´s rest day in Salta, marking the half-way point after one week at the Dakar 2014. Joan Barreda did a brilliant job, winning two stages and keeping the overall lead for the first four days. Now he sits second in the overall classification. He and his machine are in perfect shape and he is eager to attack the overall leader during the second week. Barreda proved his status as the fastest rider in the field, and also his navigation skills have been outstanding so far, so he can put some pressure on his opponents.

Joan Barreda: “Today was a rather technical stage on hard and stoney tracks, and quite dangerous especially as I had to pass several riders starting from 13th position in the dust, so I took it easy not risking too much. I am very happy to arrive here at the rest day bivouac in Salta in perfect shape. I´m in a very good position to attack during the second week. I enjoyed the race very much until now and I know I have one week more where I can fight everyday for the missing minutes to take back the overall lead. My bike works great, my team did a perfect job, and I am looking forward to ´put the hammer´ down.”

Wolfgang Fischer, Team Manager: “We are very excited about Joan´s great performance. To arrive here in Salta second overall with everything ready to take on the fight in the second week is a great satisfaction. It was a very difficult and demanding race so far, and many riders lost a lot of time or are out of the race already. I am very sorry for what happened to Paulo Goncalves yesterday, he was working very hard and deserved a good result here, but this is part of the Dakar. We are pleased that he and everyone in the team is healthy and hope to arrive well in one week in Valparaiso.”

KTM Report

Red Bull KTM’s Marc Coma rode another competent stage in the 2014 edition of the Dakar Rally on Friday to complete the first half of this grueling race with a 42.17-minute lead in the overall standings. Coma was second in Stage Six, just one minute 15 behind leader Alain Duclos of France.

Coma, a three times Dakar winner, said later he was content with the stage, which had not been easy. “It is true that we did not have the same extreme conditions of the previous days. This allowed us to tackle the stage in a less demanding way. But in any case, it was still a special 400 km with some navigation and 15 km of extreme enduro, which complicated things quite a lot.”

But for Coma’s factory teammate Chaleco Lopez it was the end of the road for this year’s race. He crashed at a triple caution, a high drop off area, and sustained some wrist and hip injuries, for which he was being treated at the bivouac medical center. This ended his bid to be on the podium at the finish in Valparaiso and it will also be a disappointment for his many loyal Chilean fans. Lopez had dropped from overall second to third overall on Thursday after losing some time, but up until then he had been one of the best and most consistent riders.

Jordi Viladoms, the third Red Bull KTM factory team member finished in ninth in the stage and is now fourth overall, seven minutes behind French rider Duclos in third place.

Viladoms: “Today it was quite easy on the navigation but it was always on the piste, so it was necessary to stay concentrated because there was a lot of dangers. I just wanted to arrive safely here in Salta so today I was trying to go a bit easy. Tomorrow we’ll rest and prepare for the second half.
”

KTM-supported rider Jakub (Kuba) Przygonski of Poland was eighth in the stage, coming in eight minutes 12 behind the leader to preserve his seventh place in the overall rankings. South African KTM-supported rider Riaan van Niekerk gained another three places in the overall, moving up from seventeenth to fourteenth.

Przygonski said it had been quite an easy stage on Friday. “We were riding at a good speed in the small mountains. I had a few riders in front of me and there was a lot of dust but I got past them after about 100 km.” He said he was looking forward to catching up on some rest and recovery on the rest day.

It was an especially good day for Van Niekerk, who has been quickly advancing up the order after a set back in Stage Four on Wednesday. “I started in fourth today and couldn’t ask for a better starting position. There were a lot of forest roads and it was very dusty, but the guys in front of me were a little bit faster so I had quite a clear track for the whole day. I just wanted to stay safe today and get to the end.”

Riders now get a well-deserved rest day before tackling the second half of the rally, which starts with the second of the two marathon stages. They also mark another milestone in the history of the Dakar Rally, entering Bolivia for the first time.

Saturday will only be a rest day in the literal sense of the word. Riders and teams will be busy preparing for the next stages and taking care of essential maintenance on bikes and equipment. They still face another 4,500 km, including about 2,700 of timed kilometers before they reach the finish in Chile on January 18.

As a measure of the difficulty of this year’s edition, even before the start of Stage Six
the original field of 196 bikes had been cut down to 94 competitors. Red Bull KTM’s Ruben Faria, who was second in 2013 crashed out on Tuesday in Stage Three and KTM-supported rider Ben Grabham of Australia also crashed out on Wednesday after delivering several very strong stages.

Speaking generally about the difficulty of this year’s race, KTM Factory Team Manager Alex Doringer said on Friday that he believed this was the new reality of the Dakar. “Now it is difficult, like the Dakar should be,” he said. “We’re happy if it’s harder. That’s how it should be.”

HRC Report

It was a fourth place finish for Joan Barreda, and sixth for Hélder Rodrigues in this, the sixth stage of the Dakar 2014, which finished today in the city of Salta, Argentina. Both riders will be poised to attack from good positions when the the second part of the rally recommences.

It will be a well-deserved day of rest for the riders at the camp in Salta after six days of some of the most gruelling Dakar to date. It was, once again, a mountain stage full of hard ground, rocks, a lot of dust, some fesh-fesh and a fair share of animals.

Joan Barreda finished in fourth place in the transition stage of today, taking no chances in the limited visibility and clouds of dust produced by the competitors up ahead. In doing so, the Spanish rider consolidates his position, and will be looking to push hard when the second week of the Rally Dakar gets underway.

Helder too, stated how difficult it had been to gain any precious seconds on his rivals. It had been a blessing to the other riders to have started out in front. Rodrigues finished in sixth and moves up into eighth overall position. Argentino Javier Pizzolito crossed the line in 29th place.

It was a pass with honours for the riders from Honda Argentina Rally Team, Laia Sanz and ‘Cacha’ Rodríguez who continue in the race. Laia Sanz, who picked up a one-hour penalty for missing a waypoint, today made up for the places dropped in the overall standings and is now back in 20th place. Pablo Rodríguez, not wanting to take any chances after a fall yesterday, took it calmly and finished in 43rd.

TEAM HRC would like to make a special mention for Belgian rider Eric Palante, who passed away during the course of the fifth stage. Palante, a veteran and great aficionado of the Cross-Country Rallies was taking part in this his 11th Dakar on a Honda. Our most sincere condolences go out to family and friends. May he rest in peace.

Joan Barreda 4th +2’22 TEAM HRC
We made it to the half-way point at the rally here in Salta. We are happy, but it certainly hasn’t been an easy week, with a few problems, particularly yesterday. Today was a day for catching the group ahead. It was really difficult to overtake with the fesh-fesh, but it worked out and we will be setting off with the leading group on Sunday’s Salta – Bolivia stage. We’ll be giving it our best.

Helder Rodrigues 6th +4’21 TEAM HRC
Another day at the Dakar. The first part has finished. Today was a very technical day with a lot of dust and loads of dangerous curves. It was a very different special. They have been very quick and very dusty. The second special was really fast… and not so fast. Where you don’t really gain anything, but you can lose everything. Sixth in today’s standings isn’t bad. We shall fight on.

Yamaha Report

The sixth stage of the 2014 Dakar proved to be a turn of fortune for the Yamaha Factory Racing riders after a difficult couple of stages. Frenchman Michael Metge impressed with his best ever stage finish, closing down the leaders over the stage on his Yamaha YZ450F Rally to finish in third place. The result moves him up to 13th in the overall standings.

Cyril Despres was another Yamaha rider on the move. Showing the speed and skill that has earned him five Dakar titles, the defending champion started in 17th position and carefully upped his pace to come home in fifth at the end of today’s special. The result raises him up to just outside the top ten in 11th position with half the Rally still to go.

The last of the Yamaha Factory riders Olivier Pain was less fortunate. A navigational error following the wrong marked tape early in the stage cost valuable tine, leaving Pain to complete the day in 14th position. The ride was however good enough to move Pain back into sixth overall. The riders now take a day of rest tomorrow at Salta before resuming the Rally on Sunday.
Cyril Despres

2013 Dakar quad winner Marcos Patronelli may have retired mid-week but that hasn’t stopped the 700cc Yamaha quads dominating this year’s Dakar Rally. At the end of today’s special stage the top three quad positions were all Yamaha. Uruguay’s Sergio Lafuente holds the top spot, Polish rider Rafal Sonik sits in second and local Chilean hero Ignacio Casale sits in third.

Michael Metge – “This morning, at the start of the first special, Cyril said to me ‘enjoy yourself’ by which he meant ‘ride your own race’. Then when we saw each other again at the refuelling he compared the amount of dust we each had on our jackets and said, ‘maybe you should calm down a little’. And that pretty much sums up the conflicting demands of racing a motorcycle on the Dakar. You have to ‘enjoy’ yourself on the bike, feel relaxed and happy, to ride well, but at the same time you have to set yourself limits, ride at a percentage of your maximum ability. I’m naturally really pleased with the result, but what the lesson I learnt today was much more important.”

Cyril Despres – “After yesterday’s problems I started 17th this morning and obviously had quite a lot of dust to contend with over the first 100 or so kilometres – fortunately most of the riders who I caught were very fair play and let me through. At kilometre 35 I had a small crash and burst my camel back which meant I had nothing to drink. The only solution was to ‘borrow’ a couple of bottles off spectators at the side of the piste. Then at kilometre 210 I came across the spot where Lopez had his crash. Looking at where he came off it must have been a big one! Now we are at the rest day bivouac and have a day to sort ourselves out for the second half of the race. They call it a rest day but there’ll be plenty to keep us occupied!”

Olivier Pain – “Yesterday I lost time with the navigation and the same thing happened again today. There was an ‘enduro’ section in the first special that the organisers had marked with tape. The trouble was that I missed the first section of tape and found a second lot of tape that must have been from the route before they modified it and I followed that for about 7 kilometres. It’s frustrating because in two days I’ve lost at least 30 minutes with stupid errors and without out that I’d be right up with the leaders.”

TOMORROW’S STAGE – REST DAY

Salta – Reaching the rest day represents a major intermediary goal on the Dakar. Some of the rally’s newcomers, who are conscious of how tough the challenge is, may even regard this as a tiny victory. So the riders and teams will be welcomed with the honours of a halfway podium at the bivouac in Salta, where a first celebration has been organised for them. Thousands of spectators are expected to come and discover the Dakar Village, as they did in Tucuman last year, where they will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of the rally, take advantage of the great variety of entertainment and activities on offer and meet the race’s key figures. It will also allow the competitors to boost their motivation levels and recharge their batteries.