ONE, TWO, THREE... "CHALECO!"
APRILIA AND LOPEZ IS A GREAT MATCH. THE FANTASTIC PAIRING ACHIEVED ITS THIRD STAGE WIN TODAY, IN THE LONGEST STAGE OF THE DAKAR 2010. CHALECO IS 2ND IN OVERALL STANDINGS. CECI AND ZANOTTI ARE 14TH AND 15TH TODAY, ALWAYS 1ST AND 3RD OF THE 450CC CLASS.
SAN RAFAEL - When the game is hard, "Chaleco" Lopez knows how to shine. Today's stage, the longest of the Dakar with its 796 km, was the witness of the third stage win for the Team Giofil Aprilia Racing. After the success of stages in the Chilean side, in Antofagasta and Copiapo, "Chaleco" has developed its own seal in Argentina, arriving to bivouac of San Rafael as the winner of the day.
Today's special had 476 km divided in two sections, with a neutralized section of 130 km in between. In the first part Lopez arrived in the second position, little more than a minute behind his main rival, the Norwegian Ullevalseter. But as planned last night by the team, it was in the second part that he pushed deeper into more technical and sandy soil, where the Aprilia can give a great performance. The Chilean rider managed to make a difference by cutting the finish line third (began fifth), but with the best time of the stage, 1'14" ahead of Ullevalseter, just to stay calm, but at the same time he opened the gap from Rodrigues, who follows him in overall standings now by seven minutes.
Last night race stewards gave back the lost time for the wrong instruction of the police man to the first riders that followed his indications: Lopez, Coma, Fretigne, and Rodrigues. Lopez joined then Ullevalseter in overall standings with identical time, an unbelievable thing. But after today 's stage Chaleco occupies the 2nd step in the provisional podium alone, when it remains only two stages before the end of the 32nd Dakar.
Paolo Ceci and Alex Zanotti also did a great race today, finishing only 40 seconds from each other, in the 14th and 15th position respectively. In overall standings Paolo is 14th, but above all he is the leader of the Super Production 450 class, while Alex is 19th and occupies the third step of the provisional podium of the same class.
Tomorrow stage, from San Rafael to Santa Rosa de la Pampa, will be a nice way to measure forces. 725 km total, with a timed section of 368. Lopez will open the road by leaving the bivouac at 5.35am.
Francisco Lopez: "It was a very tough stage, especially for the high temperature, and I was a little dehydrated. The second part of the special was very technical, sort of Motocross with many jumps. In the first section I was able to overcome Street only 15 km from the arrival, there was too much dust. In the second part I passed Verhoeven, who was a little lost, and then I led alone. At the end I have been able to win the third stage of this Dakar. The bike was fantastic, even today; despite of the small cylinders the bike is very strong and excellent for steering. The only downside is that I have broken the front fender with a stone."