|Dakar Rally – Stage Three|
Dakar 2011, stage 3
1, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM, 4:18.55
2, Cyril Despres, Andorra, KTM at 2:21
3, Paolo Goncalves, Portugal BMW, at 3:36
4, Olivier Pain, France, Yamaha, at 4:34
5, Ruben Faria, Portugal, KTM, at 5.46
2011 Dakar Overall standings
1, Cyril Despres, Andorra, KTM 09:38:58
2, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM, at 0:14
3, Ruben Faria, Portugal, KTM, at 9:38
4, Paolo Goncalves, Portugal BMW at 10:43
5, Jose Rodrigues, Brazil, BMW at 16:07
– KTM Report
Marc Coma on Tuesday picked up his first Stage victory for the 33rd edition of the Dakar Rally in another exciting finish with fellow KTM factory rider Marc Coma who hangs onto the overall lead by a mere 14 seconds.
Ruben Faria of Portugal, Despres’ co-rider, finished fifth after the marathon special of 521 tough kilometers but stays in third overall while Coma’s teammate and Spanish countryman Juan Pedrero finished tenth and is also tenth in the overalls.
After settling in with two stages that were relatively trouble-free, riders on Tuesday tackled a massive 521 km of special and 231 of road riding that took them through desert canyons, up to an altitude of 3378 m before descending down into the forested areas in the most northern provinces of Argentina just below the border with Bolivia. This area is new territory for the Dakar regulars.
Coma, who celebrated his first Stage win for the 2011 edition after mastering the tricky navigation to perfection, described his ride as “a really authentic Dakar day”. “I’m happy with where I am,” the Spanish rider commented at the end of the day. “I took advantage of a little navigation mistake by Cyril Despres. Of course it’s important to win a special, but my aim is to win the rally”.
Despres, first out today after winning the first two stages, had mixed fortunes at the beginning of the special when he encountered a number of spectators crossing the piste, which was enough to momentarily disturb his concentration. Then after a small navigation error around the first waypoint, he settled down to do some serious damage control. “Marc Coma caught up with me very quickly,” he said. I was very careful during the first 10 km and then after 11 km I got it completely wrong. I didn’t lose two hours, but several precious minutes. In the end, I limited the damage, because I finished 20 seconds behind Marc. He must have gained 2 minutes 20 seconds on me. It’s not huge amount of time, but I would’ve liked to have kept it for myself”. The 2011 Dakar is still wide open but the rivalry between the two KTM riders is already omnipresent and they are both fighting hard for every small advantage.
While Coma had moved into second as early as the second waypoint and took and retained the lead from the third, Despres fought his way back into contention with the same determination that is his hallmark racing style. By waypoint seven he was in sixth place. He then slipped into third at waypoint nine and crossed the line in second place just over two minutes behind Coma.
Ruben Faria, Cyril’s teammate had another good day. He was in the top ten in the first half of the special then moved up the order to finish in fifth. Ruben hangs on to third place in the overalls and trails the leader by 9:38. Coma’s teammate Juan Pedrero is 19:22 behind the leader in 10th overall, to solidify the KTM quartet’s position among the top ranked competitors. With three of the thirteen stages and a day of very hard riding, the KTM factory riders are holding up well on the new KTM 450 Rally bike, especially developed to conform to the new regulations that limit the professionals to the smaller bike.
After leaving San Salvador de Jujuy tomorrow the riders must cross the Andes via the Paso de Jama at an oxygen robbing 4800 m altitude before plunging down to Calama in Chile and the notorious Atacama Desert, the world’s driest region. It will be another relentless energy sapping day on the bikes with 554 km on the road and a 207 km special. Having crossed the border from Argentina into Chile the route of the 33rd edition of the rally turns north and riders will head for the northern most tip of Chile, right on the border with Peru.
– BMW Report
Team BMW Motorrad by speedbrain delivered a strong team result during the first major test of the Dakar 2011.
As the route led through desert-like landscape and canyons with lots of changing altitude, Paulo Goncalves for the first time managed to pressure the leaders.
He and his teammates felt home on the challenging terrain with a mix of sand, stones and corners. The Portuguese headed the standings at the beginning of the two-part 520 kilometer long special test, before losing a bit of ground in the second part due to a crash. This might even have cost him the stage win.
Goncalves´ third place promoted him to fourth in the overall standings.
Ze Helio also enjoyed his time. The Brazilian had to cope with slower riders right after the start. He swallowed loads of dust early on, but then managed to put the hammer down. Ze Helio ended the stage in sixth place. He now sits in fifth position in the overall classification.
Frans Verhoeven meanwhile had a tough day. He found out late yesterday that he would receive a time penalty for speeding. The Dutchman began today´s stage in 24th place. Considering all the other riders Verhoeven had to pass, 19th at the finish is a decent result.
Pedro Bianchi Prata, the fourth rider on the team, endured a bad day. A sting of a bee to his hand ruined his ride. The friendly Portuguese had to make the best of the situation. He´s still lying well in the upper third of the motorcycle field. Team principal Wolfgang Fischer nevertheless expressed satisfaction with Tuesday´s outcome.
Paulo Goncalves: “What a great stage. Just what I like. Unfortunately, I lost a little bit of concentration in a downhill passage while riding the second part of the special. I went down and maybe lost an even better finish, but it´s still been a good day.”
– David Casteu Report
The Dakar keeps going north in this third stage with a long special stage divided in two by a neutralized section. Both sections were totally different, red flashing canyons in the first part, followed a beautiful green forest.
“Today´s stage was a little dangerous this morning. It reminded me of last year, when I had my accident… I was behind the dust of (Jonah) Street, who I overtook. It was dangerous, I got scared, and so I preferred to assure a good stage. Then, I rode along with (Helder) Rodrigues.”
After the first section and the neutralized portion, it was time to get on the saddle: “Time was short, I was stressed. I rode at a nice rhythm in the second timed section, in a very beautiful landscape. Regarding the engine, no problem at all, one more stage and I´ll change it. The team is doing fine, the stress and pressure of the beginning of the race are now gone. Now everything is o.k. I found my marks, I can let go now.”
David is 9th in the stage, 10’01’’ from stage winner Marc Coma. In the overall ranking he went back to the 11th place, 21´41´´ from the provisional leader Cyril Despres. This place is also due to the penalty of 4 minutes received on Monday.
“I took this penalty while overtaking Jordi Viladoms, I didn´t see the radar. I was taken at 59 km/h in a 50 zone. That is why started 8th this morning, I lost some minutes but the Dakar is long. Tomorrow there is another big stage with some navigation, so it´s good to be behind too.”
– LATE BRAKING NEWS –