Marc Coma secured an impressive stage victory on day two of the 2012 Dakar to move into the lead of the overall race standings. The factory KTM rider completed the 487km liason stage before entering the 295km timed special stage setting a time of 3h 07m 21s.
The 35 year old Spaniard rode the majority of the day with stage one winner Francesco Lopez but was able to take control in the second half of the stage when the navigation and terrain got tougher.
He said: “The start of the special was very fast today. I was riding at top speed with Lopez and let me tell you, the Aprilia is very, very quick. After that, we arrived at the second part of the special with sand and dunes. It was a lot more technical, with some navigation to do as well. I took the lead and kept riding at a good pace. I'm happy because it would have been very easy to get lost. So, it's been a good day for me!”
Second place on the stage went to Coma’s arch rival and 2012 team-mate Cyril Despres. The 37 year old made up for his slow start and 13th position on the opening day to come through the field and set a stage time just 1m 18s slower than Coma. The strong result sees him move up to third in the overall standings behind Lopez.
Despres said: “Everything went well today. After the first stage I had a lot of riders to get through and I have to thank the guys in front who helped me by getting out of my way. The stage was very fast and with the difficult terrain at the end it was the first proper stage of the Dakar.”
Joan Barreda Bort onboard his Speedbrain Husqvarna Rally 450 RR was the surprise third fastest man on the stage today. The Spaniard ended the day just 2m 33s behind Coma to secure Husqvarna’s first podium of the race, which as a result escalated him up the leader board to fifth place.
Fourth place on the stage was secured by Lopez, which saw him drop to second in the overall standings behind Coma. Lopez who suffered a serious crash in the Tunisain Rally back in May, which threatened to prevent him even competing in the Dakar, said: “I led the stage until the 240 km point, with Marc (Coma) following me, but then when we got to the dunes, he overtook me. I found it a bit difficult to follow, because I had a problem with my GPS aerial and I'm also quite tired. But these first two days of racing were important for me, to see how I am physically. I'm happy to have reached the finishing line. For the moment, I'm not thinking about the general standings, but I think there was a lot to lose today, because the special was very long and tricky.”
Irishman Stan Watt enjoyed a better stage two, finishing the 295km timed special in 56th place with a time of 3h 54m 51s, 47m 30s behind the stage winner. He has now moved up from 87th to 56th in the overall standings as the race heads 561km from San Rafael to San Juan, which includes a 270km special.
Watt said: “The stage was really fast, but also really dusty which made it very difficult to pass. We seemed to be lacking a little bit of top speed, but other than that the bike is working well.”
At time of writing Brits Sam Sunderland, who claimed a stunning seventh position in the opening stage, Tobias Younger and Jago Pickering were yet to finish day two’s 295km timed special.