Despite a fall at the beginning of the stage, Marc Coma again demonstrated his status as boss of the Dakar 2014, by picking up his 3rd victory of the year on one of the longest specials of this 36th edition, further reinforcing his position at the top of the general standings.

605km against the clock were on the menu for the competitors on the eleventh stage of the Dakar 2014, which witnessed a new festival from Marc Coma. Fifth to start this morning, the leader of the general standings, though it brought him a fall during the first hour of the stage, attacked throughout the first part before finally tackling the dunes in the wake of Cyril Despres, who moved to opening the way from the very first minutes of the special stage. The two men finished the rest of the stage together and therefore it was only logical that the Catalan recorded the best time of the day, 2’51 ahead of Cyril Despres. Behind this duo, the third best time of the day went to an excellent Olivier Pain, involved in a feisty battle for the final step on the podium with Jordi Viladoms, who in the end only lost around thirty seconds to the French Yamaha rider.

As a result, in the general standings, Marc Coma increases his lead to 52’36 over Joan Barreda, who set off first this morning, but who fell after 250 km of the day’s special, breaking all his navigation instruments, forcing him to finish the special stage just by the naked eye. Thanks to his third best time, Olivier Pain is now within 13’44”of the third step on the podium, which is still occupied by Jordi Viladoms. As for Cyril Despres, he continued his climb back up the general standings and now only trails fifth placed Helder Rodrigues by 43 seconds.

In the quad category the withdrawal of Sergio Lafuente today due to a broken engine after 272 km of the special allows Ignacio Casale to be assured, unless he suffers mechanical problems, of winning the title. Indeed, the Chilean, who won his 6th special stage victory on the Dakar today, 5’12” ahead of Victor Manuel Gallegos Lociz and 19’17” in front of Rafal Sonik, now boasts a lead in the general standings of 1:04’32” over the Polish rider.

Dakar Rally 2014 Stage 11: Antofagasta to El Salvador Results

1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 6:36:08
2. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 6:38:59
3. Oliver Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 6:41:36
4. Jordi Viladoms, ESP (KTM) 6:42:01
5. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 6:44:20
6. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Honda) 6:45:31
7. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (Sherco) 6:45:58
8. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 6:49:33
9. Jakub Przygonski, POL (KTM) 6:50:48
10. Ivan Jakes, SVK (KTM) 6:50:55

Marc Coma: “To find the right rhythm is never easy. To find the compromise between going fast, but not taking risks, this is the most difficult. You have to feel comfortable on the bike and not ride crazy. This is important. It’s still a long way to go and tomorrow is a very difficult special. We have to be very focused.”
Marc Coma: “To find the right rhythm is never easy. To find the compromise between going fast, but not taking risks, this is the most difficult. You have to feel comfortable on the bike and not ride crazy. This is important. It’s still a long way to go and tomorrow is a very difficult special. We have to be very focused.”

Dakar Rally 2014 Overall Standings after Stage 11
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 48:24:41
2. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 49:17:17
3. Jordi Viladoms, ESP (KTM) 50:32:37
4. Oliver Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 50:46:21
5. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Honda) 50:55:16
6. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 50:55:59
7. Jakub Przygonski, POL (KTM) 51:08:36
8. Daniel Gouet, CHL (Honda) 51:49:16
9. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 52:11:13
10. David Casteu, FRA (KTM) 52:32:37

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KTM Report

Red Bull KTM factory rider Marc Coma of Spain remained on course to pick up his fourth Dakar title on Thursday when he won Stage 11 after successfully completing the longest timed special of this year’s epic ride. He now leads the overall standings with a 52 minute 36 seconds advantage over countryman Joan Barreda.

Riders tackled a massive seven-hour ride of just over 600 km, deep in the dunes of the Atacama Desert. But for most of the day Coma and his traditional rival and former KTM teammate Cyril Despres rode close together. Despres was second in the stage coming in two minutes 51 behind Coma, who picked up his third stage win.

Marc Coma: “To find the right rhythm is never easy. To find the compromise between going fast, but not taking risks, this is the most difficult. You have to feel comfortable on the bike and not ride crazy. This is important. It’s still a long way to go and tomorrow is a very difficult special. We have to be very focused.”

A very happy Jordi Viladoms, Coma’s teammate in the factory team, finished fourth in the stage just under seven minutes behind the leader and held onto his third place overall with a 14-minute gap to Frenchman Olivier Pain.

Viladoms said the stage had been a key day: “I’m very happy. Today it was important to push from the start to the end and I made it. I was in a good position all day. Tomorrow is also a long stage and anything can happen but now I’m happy to keep the third position. The bike is working well and the team is working very hard for me.”

KTM-supported rider Kuba Przygonski of Poland finished ninth in the stage and remains in seventh overall and Riaan van Niekerk, KTM’s supported rider from South Africa also had a solid day finishing thirteenth. He is twelfth overall.

It is only the South African’s second Dakar ride and Riaan is on a steep learning curve. “Today was a really long day and there was a long navigation stretch as well. But the navigation was a lot better for me today. I tried to concentrate on the instructions in the road book and that helped. I had to slow down a bit but it was a good lesson learned. I need to up my game, to try to go faster and to learn to navigate,” he said.

KTM Team Manager Alex Doringer was very satisfied with his riders. “Marc did a fantastic ride today. He was really impressive and did a great job. He was very relaxed when he came back to the bivouac tonight. He had a small crash this morning but nothing serious and the bike is working well. Tomorrow is another long stage and Marc will open the track. Jordi also did a great job today and he’s in a good position at third and Kuba and Riaan have been improving all the time.”

The Red Bull KTM factory riders are this year competing on the brand new 2014 KTM RALLY bike, which had its first real test in race conditions only in the Morocco Rally last October.

The penultimate stage on Friday will again offer its share of challenges as they ride from El Salvador to La Serena over a total distance of 699 km, including a timed special of 350 km, including another series of dunes at the end of the timed special.

HRC Report

After this, the eleventh and longest stage so far in this edition of the Rally Dakar 2014, Joan Barreda crossed the El Salvador finish-line in fifth and Hélder Rodrigues in sixth position.

It was Joan Barreda, who started out first today from Antofagasta, as the winner of yesterday’s stage. After completing the 144 km liaison he set of to tackle the 605 km special against the clock, the longest to date in the Dakar 2014. The eleventh stage covered a variety of terrain, hard ground, mountains, plus 120 km of sand and dunes in the Copiapo area.

Joan Barreda fell about halfway through the special in the fesh-fesh zone, damaging the navigation system of his Honda CRF450 RALLY in the process. Without the road-book, the Spaniard was forced to wait for the other riders to be able to make it to the end of the stage. Barreda finished fifth and maintains second position in the overall.

Portuguese Hélder Rodrigues was enjoying a good run until a problem with one of the petrol tanks arose. At refuelling he made an attempt to repair the tanks, refilled, and was able to finish the rally without conceding much time to his adversaries in the battle for the third podium step.

After yesterday’s eighth place, Javier Pizzolito finished further back after he hit a rock and damaged the bike’s rear wheel suspension.

Laia Sanz, made a decided effort to improve on her previous position, after a less positive day out yesterday. Today the Spanish rider never dropped below fifteenth place where she finally finished. Her team-mate from the Honda Argentina Rally Team, Pablo Gonzalez finished the special in the top forty.

Joan Barreda 5th 08’12 TEAM HRC – “Today was one of the most important days with a lot of timed kilometres. I really tried, pushing hard from the beginning, but about 300 km into the race I had a heavy fall in the fesh-fesh zone and I broke the navigation system. I waited for Cyril [Des[Despres] was about six minutes behind and I stuck with him until the end of the special. I’m happy that we’ve got this difficult stage out of the way and we are a bit closer to the end.”

Helder Rodrigues 6th +09’23 TEAM HRC – “I’m pleased to be here at the finish. I had a problem with the fuel tank at km 100 and I tried to fix it, but it was really hard to mend and then the problem came back again. I tried to finish by filling the tank to the top and that way I was able to make it home. With a problem like that I could have finished way back, but here I am, and I’m fine.”

Javier Pizzolito 18th +35’47 TEAM HRC – “The longest stage has finished and here I am, back at the bivouac in El Salvador, which is great. It was mainly rocky ground today with a lot of off-road. I started out well, but felt a blow at the back and the rear suspension stopped working properly. We’ll find out what caused it tomorrow and then tackle the rest of the race.”

Yamaha Report

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Cyril Despres enjoyed another day battling at the front of the lead group of riders today on stage 11 of the 2014 Dakar Rally. The exhausting ride covered 605km of timed special stage featuring every kind of terrain, from dunes to rios. The five-time Dakar winner opened the piste for 400km before dropping slightly to finish just 2mins 31secs behind Marc Coma in first. The result keeps Despres in sixth in the standings, now 23mins 22secs from third.

Teammate Olivier Pain was also on form, completing the 11th special stage in third position behind Despres, 5mins 28secs from the front. The result moves the Frenchman closer to a possible Dakar podium. Sitting in fourth in the overall standings he is now just 13mins 44secs from third.
Olivier Pain

The last of Yamaha’s Factory Racing riders, Michael Metge, had a better day than yesterday, staying on the course and avoiding any navigational errors to finish the special in 11th and keep 13th overall in the standings.

A little further back from the factory riders the Yamaha’s WR450 is delivering impressive results in the hands of Venezuelan rider Nicolas Vagnoni. With just two stages remaining, Vagnoni continues to lead the G2 marathon class.

Cyril Despres – “Six hours 38 minutes – that’s a long day’s racing and in 605 kilometres of special we had pretty much everything – climbs, descents, sand, pistes, rios – the lot. I was hoping to get pulled along by Barreda but unfortunately he crashed heavily and destroyed his navigation gear, so I ended up opening the piste again – this time for 400 kilometres. And inevitably when you open its difficult to pull back time. Tomorrow I start behind Marc and I think there’s a strong chance I’ll end up opening again. He’s pretty comfortably installed in the lead and if he pulls over and lets me pass he’ll be helping his team mate Viladoms.”

Olivier Pain – “I think if I was actually holding third place I’d be a lot more stressed. In my current situation I’ve got nothing to lose. I’m not worrying about holding my position and that’s very liberating – I feel good in my head and good on the bike. Today I made up a little bit of time, but although the special was very long, there was nothing in it that allowed you to make the difference. Plus Viladoms is putting up a hell of a fight! Tomorrow there’ll be more dune crossings going to Copiapo, and with it more possibilities. The important thing for me is not to have any regrets at the end of this, to know that I did everything I could to try and finish on the podium.”

Michael Metge – “If I’d done this special last year I’d have been completely exhausted at the end of it. But this year, with my new fitness regime, I feel pretty good, despite almost 7 hours on the bike. And now ‘the boss’ has ‘suggested’ that I ride the static bike for 20 minutes to aid recuperation. I can’t complain – he’s just done the same!”

Speedbrain Report

The 11th stage of the recent Rally Dakar had been announced by the organisers as the toughest of the race. In fact, Thursday´s proceedings from Antofagasta to El Salvador offered everything that makes this sport so unique. The riders had to suffer through seven hours of special stage in one of the driest places on earth. Sand dunes, dry river beds, stony sections and fast hard-pack terrain challenged the participants. Man and machine were definitely getting tortured today.

Nevertheless major changes in the classification didn´t happen. All riders coming this far in the Dakar were ready for the difficulties. The Speedbrain Rally Team kept approaching the stage by acting steady and concentrated. “Chavo” Salvatierra delievered a cautious performance and maintained his pace all throughout. According to the motto “ride smart not hard” neither Salvatierra nor Paolo Ceci or Pedro Oliviera made notable mistakes. The trio consolidated their positions in the overall ranking.

The Speedbrain 450 Rally proved to be the right weapon for today´s enormous task. The bike worked flawlessly and despite the mammoth length of the stage no mechanical gremlins occured.

“Chavo” Salvatierra: “Another good day. It was very long indeed and pretty exhausting. We remain in good spirits though with two days left. Obviously we are looking forward to finish our Dakar adventure successfully.”

Tomorrow’s Stage – El Salvador – La Serena – Liaison: 349 km Special: 350 km Total: 699 km

Tomorrow's Stage - El Salvador – La Serena - Liaison: 349 km  Special: 350 km  Total: 699 km
Tomorrow’s Stage – El Salvador – La Serena – Liaison: 349 km Special: 350 km Total: 699 km