Marc Coma pulls back six minutes on Barreda; Toby Price maintains fifth

Red Bull KTM factory rider Marc Coma had a good day out in the first of two marathon stages at the Dakar 2015 on Sunday, trimming the time deficit between him and overall leader Joan Barreda (Honda) by half in Stage 7.

Coma, finished a very close second in the stage that went from Iquique to Uyuni in Bolivia and is now trails outright leader Joan Barreda six-minutes 28-seconds. Barreda, also from Spain finished twelfth in the stage some 6m13s behind the stage winner, Paolo Goncalves of Portugal.

Paulo Goncalves – “This stage was great, I started in the front, and that’s always difficult as it’s very easy to lose time as you open the road. I pushed very hard, to stay at the front of the race. I’m very happy, of course, with my result today. I never stopped pushing until the finish. This stage was very hard, mud, stones, and many bumps, unbelievably hard, but I won it and that’s great.”

Coma finished just 14 seconds behind Goncalves.

Immediately behind Coma was KTM’s Dakar rookie Matthias Walkner of Austria who bounced back impressively after having a very tough day on Friday before the only rest day. Walkner, riding in only his second rally ever was only 30-seconds behind the stage winner.

Next was KTM rider Pablo Quintanilla of Chile at 1m32 and KTM’s second Dakar Rookie, Toby Price was at 1m49 and retained his 5th position outright, extending his lead over sixth-placed Helder Rodrigues to nearly five-minutes.

Rally leader Joan Barreda was 12th on stage;  “It was a tough stage where you had to be careful, but when I came to a muddy section around kilometre 200, while I was breaking before a danger marked on the road book, the bike slid and I crashed. The handlebars were damaged, so I had to do the last 120 kilometres just with the right hand. I was pushing hard to lose a minimum of time, but that was not easy. We are now at the marathon stage, we are a great team and we will solve the problem with my teammates.”

Sunday’s marathon stage demanded careful riding, especially when it came to looking after tires. Riders are allowed no contact or mechanical intervention by their teams and must carry out any necessary repairs by themselves.

The ride from Iquique in Chile into Bolivia and Uyuni, named as the world’s largest salt lake, took riders to an altitude of 3500 m. They traveled for 321 km under the clock after a liaison section of almost 400 km and They face an even tougher day on Monday when Stage 8 from Uyuni back to Iquique is a race against the clock of some 781 km. Should the surface of the gigantic lake be dry, organizers are planning a mass start of 30 riders at a time. If it is not dry, riders will take a course around the edge of the lake.

Provisional Results Stage 7 (Marathon Stage) – Iquique (Chile) to Uyuni (Bolivia)
395 km liaison, 321 km special (717 km) – (First of 2 marathon stages)

Stage Seven Results Dakar 2015

1, Paolo Goncalves, POR, Honda 3 hours 56.00

2, Marc Coma, ESP, KTM at 00.14

3, Matthias Walkner, AUT, KTM at 00.30

4, Pablo Qunitanilla, CHI, KTM at 1.32

5, Toby Price, AUS, KTM at 1:49

6, Joan Pedrero, ESP, Yamaha at 3.20

7, Alain Duclos, FRA, Sherco at 3.48

8, Helder Rodrigues, POR, Honda at 4.05

9, Stefan Svitko, SVK, KTM at 5.00

10, Riaan van Niekerk, RSA, KTM at 6.06

11, Jordi Viladoms, ESP, KTM at 6.10

12, Joan Barreda, ESP, Honda at 6.13

Overall Standings after Stage 7 Dakar 2015

1, Barreda, Honda 25:40.48

2, Coma, KTM at 6.28

3, Goncalves, Honda at 10.59

4, Qunitanilla KTM at 25.16

5, Price, KTM at 29.20

6, Rodrigues, Honda at 33.56

7, Svitko, KTM at 40.23

8, Faria, KTM at 40.55

9, Duclos, Sherco at 50.31

10, Casteu, KTM at 1:16.52

Marc Coma
Marc Coma

Tomorrow – Route Stage 8 (January 12, 2015) : Uyuni to Iquique – 24 liaison, 781 km special (805 km)

Dakar 2015 Stage 8 Map - Uyuni (BOL) – Iquique (CHI)
Dakar 2015 Stage 8 Map – Uyuni (BOL) – Iquique (CHI)

Tomorrow –  The Salar: unconditionally – The Dakar bows to the laws of nature. Hence, the weather will decide which route will be taken to leave Bolivia. If it’s dry, the start could take place in the Salar de Uyuni, for a 100km route across a smooth road of white salt: full throttle and foot to the floor! The route then slows down abruptly, with the longest part of the special stage taking place on more technical mountain terrain. The day will end with more than 40km of dunes, concluding with the vertiginous descent to Iquique.