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Dakar Day 6 - Despres takes first stage win

By Michael Guy -

Off road

 09 January 2009 09:44

2007 Dakar champion Cyril Despres took his first stage win of the 2009 event to get his race back on track.

The Frenchman has had a torrid time so far with punctures, crashes and navigation problems but it all came right for him on day six to win the stage ahead of team-mate and fellow factory KTM rider Marc Coma.

Despres now sits seventh overall in the standings, but is languishing 1h 33m 59s behind leader, Coma.

Despres said:

“I didn't set out especially to win the stage, nor did I ride particularly hard, but being a short day I could ride normally on the mousse without having to worry about it too much.

"We started off in the same dunes that we finished in yesterday - except after last night's storm they were completely different, dark grey in colour with a black line where your wheel had been.

"I overtook Rodrigues, then Frétigné and Casteu, and by the time I came out of the dunes there were just three tracks in front. Eventually they was just one and seeing the amount of slide, how hard the rider in front of me was attacking, I was pretty sure it was Lopez and I guessed right.”

Coma’s second place on stage six saw the Spaniard extend his overall lead to 40m 29s ahead of American Jonan Street who could only manage 11th today following his stage win on day five.  

Third place overall belongs to Yamaha’s David Fretigne after the French Dakar veteran finished the day in fifth spot 10m 30s off the lead.

Mick Extance is clearly now up to full speed and was rewarded for his efforts with the accolade of top Brit on day six. The Honda Europe rider finished 33rd which means he has now moved up to 23rd in the overall standings.

BMW mounted Simon Pavey is another man getting stronger and stronger. The Australian finished one place behind Extance in 34th, which has moved him significantly up the standings to 42nd overall.

Stanley Watt onboard his KTM actually recorded his worst stage finish of the event ending the day in 39th, but the talented 37 year old is still top Brit overall holding an impressive 22nd spot.

Craig Bounds (KTM Desert Rose Racing) was 80th on stage six with Ewan Bucham (KTM Desert Rose Racing) 117th and Gary Ennis (KTM Team Dakar Ireland) 124th.

Day seven of the Dakar will see riders leave Mendoza in Argentina and end the day on the coast at Valparaiso in Chile.

In what will be another epic day totalling 816KM including a 419KM riders will face mountains as high as 3000 metres along with big sand dunes.