Uyuni, Bolivia to Calama, Chile 692km including 462km timed Special Stage
Cyril Despres secured his first stage win of the 2014 Dakar after another demanding day in Bolivia. The 39 year old Frenchman who is currently out of contention for the overall victory after earlier technical problems has vowed to go on an all-out attack and his results over the last two days illustrate that he wasn’t bluffing.
The factory Yamaha man won the stage by 2m 09s from Honda man Joan Barreda with race leader Marc Coma in third 2m15s off the win onboard his factory KTM. With five days still to go Despres will still be targeting a place on the podium despite currently holding ninth in the overall standings.
Despres said: “The idea isn't really to go looking for stage victories, but rather to try and get back to the front of the rally as much as possible. Today, by making up the difference on the tracks between myself and the first riders, I won the special, and that's always a pleasure.”
After another strong finish Coma still leads the overall standings by a significant 38m 08s over Barreda. Third overall is Coma’s support rider Jordi Viladoms who was drafted into the team as a replacement for American Kurt Casseli who was killed racing the Baja at the end of last year. Viladoms finished tenth on the stage and sits 1h 27m 22s of Coma’s lead.
Barreda secured yet another podium finish and by beating Coma on the day, albeit by only a few seconds closed the gap to the lead.
He said: "Today was quite a fast stage, with nice tracks, partly on the salt flats. It was not possible to ´run away´ from my opponents, as I had to do also the opening navigation, but I am happy with the result. Important is that the bike and I passed very well through the second marathon stage and the high altitude conditions. Now we can attack more in the sand of Chile during the coming days."
Honda’s Helder Rodrigues had another impressive day and after a slow start to the race, finished fourth on the stage. His consistent performances mean that he is now eighth overall.