Iquique to Antofagasta, Chile – 689km including 631km timed Special Stage
Honda’s Joan Barreda kept the pressure on overall race leader Marc Coma with another impressive stage win today – his fourth of the 2014 Dakar. The 30 year old Spaniard completed the gruelling 631km timed Special Stage in 4h 42m taking significant time out of Coma who finished in fifth place 11m 26s behind.
He said: “"It's not easy to win four stages. I'm happy because it followed the trend of the rally so far, with a nice feeling, lots of speed and good navigation. We'll see how it goes tomorrow. It'll be difficult again because there'll be lots of kilometres and the dunes of Copiapó. The day after that will also be tough. We'll see, we're getting closer. Nothing is lost yet. Marc [Coma] has a sizeable lead, but anything can happen."
Dakar veteran Helder Rodrigues secured his best finish of this years Dakar in second place and in doing so made it a 1 -2 for the factory HRC squad. The Portuguese rider who has been a front runner at Dakar for close to a decade has upped his pace dramatically in the second week of the race and is now fifth in the overall standings – less than 20 minutes away from a potential podium finish.
He said: “It’s been a good day for me. I tried to push really, really hard. It turned out well. I passed the dunes and saw only two indications. It was Cyril and Marc. I kept trying to gain on them until Joan caught up with me. We finished together. In the end Joan took the stage and I was second. It’s been really good for Honda and for me too. I’m pleased."
Cyril Despres also continued his impressive fight back during stage ten of the race. The factory Yamaha man is now sixth in the overall standings and like Rodrigues will be targeting a place on the 2014 podium.
He said: "It was lots of fun. It was a maze this morning, what with all the dunes and valleys. I came across Marc at km 14, I think he wanted me to get in front to open the course. We ended up riding together all day long and the rest never caught up with us. We laughed ourselves silly a short while ago: we turned too early and ended up in a canyon, so we had to go up a long climb to get back on track. He managed to do it in one go, but I came up ten metres short! It was quite fun... We went fast, which is good for me, in the overall. This moves me back up the classification, I don't know how far I'll get, but I'm trying."
Marc Coma had a relatively disappointing day compared to his recent stage wins and podiums, finishing fifth on the stage and losing over 11m to his closest rival Barreda, but due to a 15m time penalty being given to Barreda for speeding in a controlled speed zone on stage nine, Coma in fact increases his overall lead to 44m 10s.
He said: "Cyril was going quite well and I tried to follow him. We swapped places to maintain a high pace. It wasn't an easy day. It was a long day. Nothing's certain yet. We've still got to tackle the dunes of Copiapó. The day after that will be tough too. We've still got very difficult days ahead, anything can happen. We'll see. Sure, everything's gone well so far, but anything can happen. The slightest mistake can cost you loads of time."