Tucaman to Salta, Argentina 46km including 400km timed Special Stage
Marc Coma consolidated his commanding lead of the 2014 Dakar with another strong performance on stage six. The factory KTM man finished the stage 1m 15s off the lead and as a result enjoys a huge 42m 17s lead in the overall standings.
Coma said: “It is true that we did not have the same extreme conditions of the previous days. This allowed us to tackle the stage in a less demanding way. But in any case, it was still a special 400 km with some navigation and 15 km of extreme enduro, which complicated things quite a lot.”
The stage was won by Alain Duclos who is fast becoming one of the revelations of the 2014 Dakar onboard his factory Samsung Sherco. Duclos’s victory is no fluke as the Frenchman has shown impressive pace and consistency since the race began and as a result now holds third in the overall standings 1h 00m 58s behind Coma.
Dakar’s early race leader Joan Barreda onboard the factory Honda finished the stage fourth place which means he remains the closest rider to Coma in the overall standings albeit over 42m behind.
After their problems on previous stagges it was a much better day for Yamaha men Michael Metge and Cyril Despres. Metge secured an impressive third place on the stage while five time champion Despres rode hard to claim fifth despite starting down in 17th.
Despres said: "After yesterday’s problems I started 17th this morning and obviously had quite a lot of dust to contend with over the first 100 or so kilometres - fortunately most of the riders who I caught were very fair play and let me through. At kilometre 35 I had a small crash and burst my camel back which meant I had nothing to drink. The only solution was to ‘borrow’ a couple of bottles off spectators at the side of the piste. Then at kilometre 210 I came across the spot where Lopez had his crash. Looking at where he came off it must have been a big one! Now we are at the rest day bivouac and have a day to sort ourselves out for the second half of the race. They call it a rest day but there’ll be plenty to keep us occupied!"
In what is being regarded as one of the hardest Dakars in living memories local hero and factory KTM rider Francisco Lopez crashed heavily and is now out of the Dakar after his bike was too badly damaged to continue.
Last remaining Brit Paul Jay was also forced out of the race late on Thursday night after suffering overheating problems in the extreme desert temperatures, running out of water and injury.
It is also with great sadness to report the death of Belgian rider Eric Palante who lost his life on stage five of the race. The 50 year old was competing in his 11th Dakar and was a well known and popular figure in the bivouac.