Calama to Iquique, Chile – 451km including 422km timed Special Stage
Marc Coma proved just how much he wants to win this years Dakar by taking an impressive stage win after a long a gruelling fight with his closest rival Joan Barreda and his nemesis Cyril Despres.
The factory KTM man traded the lead with his two rivals but eventually came out on top to win stage nine of the 2014 Dakar by 1m 41s from Barreda and 5m 28s from Despres.
The result sees him extend his overall lead of the race to 40m 19s over Barreda with four stages of the race remaining.
Coma said: “It was a complicated stage in the Atacama Desert. Very nice and very fast at the beginning, but on the last part we found some dunes. I tried to catch Joan, because he started two minutes in front of me. When I caught up with him I tried to follow to ride together to the end. It was a good day for me.”
Barreda continues to impress on this years Dakar. The Spaniard is known for his fast and sometimes wild riding, but so far in 2014 he has shown a new level of consistency.
He said: “I tried to push from the beginning upping the pace as much as possible, but Marc [Coma] fought really hard and caught up with me in the dunes. I could do no more. There are two really tough days still awaiting us, but we are going to continue following the same line. I’m very pleased with the job done.”
It was another strong stage for factory Yamaha man Despres who opened the route after winning stage eight of the race. The Frenchman is currently out of contention for overall victory due to earlier technical problems and time penalties, but he is now up to eighth in the standings with the outside chance of making it on to the podium.
He said: “As the organisers say, a day with a lot of everything, a lot of navigation and a lot of rivers. There was a quite nice track that was twisty until the 200 km point. It was nice, with nice skids and nice corners. Then we arrived in the part that is a little bit more complicated for the hands, wrists and arms. It was really bumpy with a lot of rocks. It was demanding, but everything like this, to arrive here via this descent, well, it's a nice place to be.”
Laia Sanz secured her best ever Dakar stage finish in ninth place. The multiple women’s trials and enduro world champion is having a brilliant race and now sits 16th in the overall standings.