Dakar 2014 – 9th Stage – Calama – Iquique – 451 km stage including 422 km special test
On a 9th stage dominated by the sand, Marc Coma made his mark and reinforced his lead in the general standings whilst picking up his 23rd special stage victory on the Dakar, his second in 2014, 1m21s ahead of his now sole rival, Joan Barreda, and 5m28 in front of Frenchman Cyril Despres.
Announced as one of the key stages on this 36th edition, the 422-km long 9th special stage between Calama and Iquique especially allowed Marc Coma to gain even more psychological superiority over the rest of the field. The third to start this morning, behind Barreda and Despres, the Catalan three times winner soon caught up with his adversaries to ride the stage in their company, demonstrating his control of the race. In the end, Coma won his second stage in 2014 and his 23rd on the Dakar, 1’21’’ ahead of his countryman and second placed rider in the general standings, Joan Barreda, and 5’28’’ in front of Cyril Despres, the title holder, who was slowed at the end of the special stage by the fear of running out of petrol in the dunes, forced to keep an eye on his consumption.
Behind the top 3, the day was again marked by the problems of Alain Duclos, this time betrayed by a valve on his Sherco and obliged to be towed to the bivouac behind his team-mate Francisco Errazuriz. The Franco-Malian therefore loses all hopes of a good result in the general standings, the summit of which is still just as serenely occupied by Marc Coma, who increases his lead over Joan Barreda to 40’19’’. The icing on the cake for the Catalan is that the misfortunes of Duclos allow his water carrier Jordi Viladoms, sixth today, to enjoy a little more breathing space in third position in the general standings with a lead of 28’21’’ over the consistently regular Chilean Jeremias Israel Esquerre.
Engaged in a frantic climb up the general standings, Cyril Despres gained another place today and is currently in 8th position, but sill almost 2 hours and 30 minutes from leader Marc Coma. Finally, a special mention should go to Laia Sanz, the leading lady in the general standings, who recorded a fantastic 9th best time of the day.
In the quad category, the day took an unusual turn for the leader of the general standings, Ignacio Casale, who was forced to stop after 177 km for a puncture which took a long time to repair. In the close struggle involving Lafuente, Sonik and the young Chilean, Casale saw his lead in the general standings melt away in the face of the quick pace imposed at the front of the race by Sebastian Husseini, who won the stage in the end at Iquique. However, in the mean-time, Casale had managed to get the bit back between his teeth to keep alive the ambition of being the first Chilean to win a Dakar. Having made a dazzling comeback, Casale finished second, 24’58’’ behind Husseini, thus maintaining the gap over Lafuente and Sonik, even managing to gain more time on them in the general standings, where they trail him by 22’34” and 46’28” respectively. A grandstand show on the road to Valparaiso.
Stage 9 Results: Calama – Iquique
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 04:49:05
2. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 04:50:46
3. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 04:54:33
4. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (Sherco) 04:57:48
5. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 04:58:47
6. Jordi Viladoms, ESP (KTM) 05:00:28
7. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Honda) 05:00:49
8. Ivan Jakes, SVK (KTM) 05:02:48
9. Laia Sanz, ESP (Honda) 05:03:39
10. Jeremias Israel Esquerre, CHL (Speedbrain) 05:04:06
Overall Standings After Stage 9
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 36:55:24
2. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 37:35:43
3. Jordi Viladoms, ESP (KTM) 38:34:09
4. Jeremias Israel Esquerre, CHL (Speedbrain) 39:02:30
5. Oliver Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 39:11:04
6. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Honda) 39:19:49
7. Jakub Przygonski, POL (KTM) 39:20:40
8. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 39:25:20
9. Daniel Gouet, CHL (Honda) 39:53:06
10. David Casteu, FRA (KTM) 40:18:30
The Dakar saw a navigation heavy stage which passed through many kinds of terrain and put the rider’s skill at using the roadbook to the test. The stage ended in spectacular style when the race –after some 40 km of dunes- finished with the picturesque steep descent into Iquique, from where the Pacific Ocean can be seen.
TEAM HRC rider Joan Barreda set off early with a 06:47 start this morning, beginning the special some 422 km later. Sixty kilometres into the race he had caught up with Cyril Despres and once again, he made a solitary ride upfront opening the way for more than 350 km. The Spaniard really put the CRF450 RALLY through its paces finishing in second place.
Hélder Rodrigues attacked hard again today in order to try and cut down the deficit with his immediate rivals in the fight for a podium place. His seventh place finish helps better his overall position. The Portuguese rider now lies in sixth in the general standings.
Argentine Javier Pizzolito, who yesterday finished the second part of the marathon stage in the first twenty, continued to make progress today with a fourthteenth place stage finish.
Laia Sanz, from the Honda Argentina Rally Team, finishes another excellent day, improving on her best results thus far in the Dakar. Tenth at the first time-check, she was able to cross the line in Iquique in ninth place in spite of having to use the roadbook manually for over 200 kms. Team-mate Pablo Rodríguez finished the stage without any setbacks.
Joan Barreda 2nd +1’41 TEAM HRC
“A very complicated stage today. I tried to push from the beginning upping the pace as much as possible, but Marc fought really hard and caught up with me in the dunes. I could do no more. There are two really tough days still awaiting us, but we are going to continue following the same line. Tomorrow I’ll be opening the way again. I’m very pleased with the job done.”
Helder Rodrigues 7th +11’44 TEAM HRC
“It has been a good one for me. I pushed hard. I knew that Cyril, Joan and Marc were really going for it, but I forced things to try and make up some time on the other riders. In the end I was out there on my own, not really fast, but I did well. I’m happy to still be here another day more. It has been long, but we have finished.”
Javier Pizzolito 14th +19’40 TEAM HRC
“It was a very entertaining special. I’ve experienced terrain of every type: rocks, technical, fast and we finished up in some really nice dunes, so I was able to set a good pace, and finish here, waiting to arrive in Valparaiso.”
Following from yesterday’s maiden stage win on a Yamaha, Cyril Despres was the first rider to open the piste today for the ninth stage of the 2014 Dakar Rally. The defending champion was again on the pace with his Yamaha YZ450F machine, staying within five minutes of the lead to finish the day in third position. The top three result moves Despres up another place in the overall standings to eighth overall. He is now less than 23 minutes from the fourth placed rider Israel and just over 51 minutes off the podium.
Fellow Frenchman Olivier Pain had a less successful day, losing approximately 10 minutes with an electrical issue to finish 11th. Despite the time loss the result was still good enough to gain one place overall and move up to fifth in the standings. Michael Metge also lost time with navigation and crossed the line in 18th place to maintain his 14th position overall.
Cyril Despres – “I’m very relieved to have made it all the way to the end. At the refuelling at kilometre 201 I noticed I had a fuel leak from the one of the rear tanks, and that petrol was dripping on to the exhaust pipe! I tried to drain as much of the fuel out of there into the other tanks as possible and then set off hoping for the best. As I crossed the line the bike started to cut out from lack of petrol! I also had a pretty big crash in the fesh fesh around kilometre 250. It’s a pity, because up until the refuelling I was concentrating hard on the navigation and making good progress. Overall I made up some more ground today on those just in front of me and as before will keep attacking to see what can be achieved before the final finish line.”
Olivier Pain – ““Early on I noticed the bike cutting out when I hit something hard and so deduced I had loose electrical connection somewhere. We have a back-up solution where we can bypass everything except what is essential to make the engine run and it was while I was looking to switch to that system that I noticed that one of the wires to the CDI was not connected properly. Unfortunately while I was sorting that out a couple of riders past me and I was then stuck in their dust for about 180 kilometres until the refuelling. By that time I was riding at a false rhythm and that and getting stuck a couple of times in the dunes cost me more time.”
Michael Metge – “I reckon a lot of riders behind the top 3 are mainly following the tracks in front of them and for sure you ‘waste’ less time that way. However one of the advantages of being a support rider is that you don’t have so much pressure regarding your individual result. So instead of following everybody else I try and do my own navigation. Today it caused me to get lost twice but it is the only way to learn and I am sure the experience I have the luxury of gaining now will pay off in the future.”
The ninth stage of the recent Rally Dakar took the field to the most northern point of the race. The riders went down from yesterday´s plateau through the Atacama desert towards the Pacific Ocean. Sand and dunes challenged the athletes especially in the final third of the stage, demanding excellent navigation skills. In between the organisers had placed fast sections with dangerous diagonal grooves and creek beds. The day offered everything that classifies a true raid rally, ending with the spectacular downhill part to the coastal town of Iquique.
The Speedbrain customer race team stuck to its strategy and took no chances. Jeremias Israel Esquerre nevertheless was on the gas and highly motivated on his first day in his native Chile. He occupied third in the day´s provisional standings until 50 kilometres from the finish, before producing a crash and damaging his navigation equipment. Not surprisingly, the 32-year-old made a subsequent navigation error that costed him 15 minutes. But because his French rival Alain Duclos had major mechanical problems, Israel Esquerre still improved one spot to fourth overall. He´s getting closer to the podium with four days to go.
“Chavo” Salvatierra enjoyed a solid day in 15th. He also made up one position overall. Paolo Ceci and Pedro Oliveira kept out of trouble and lie inside the top thirty. Obviously the Speedbrain squad is in splendid spirits, fully within the expectations and receiving plenty of applause from the competition for their strong showing.
Jeremias Israel Esquerre: “I´m a bit annoyed over what happened. It went very good, almost too good until the crash. You have to pace yourself not to get too excited. Luckily my mistake didn´t prove too costly and I could continue, even making up a bit of ground again towards the end.”
Wednesday brings the longest special stage of the Dakar 2014. The riders have to tackle 631 km against the clock on their way to Antofagasta. Together with the following stage on Thursday to El Salvador the decisive moments of the race are approaching.
TOMORROW’S STAGE – Wednesday, January 15 – Stage 10: Iquique – Antofagasta – Liasion: 58 km – Special: 631 km – Total: 689 km
The special stage, split into two sections with very different features, will begin with the descent towards the shores of the Pacific. The advance gained in the stage the day before may will be increased in the sand during the first two hundred kilometres. Even more skill will be required to tackle the sections of fesh-fesh in the second part of the stage. Once this difficult area is behind the drivers, they w ill all be delighted to twist and wind along the region’s mine tracks, and in particular to be welcomed by the majestic arch of La Portuda, a stone’s throw from the bivouac in Antofagasta.