Marc Coma keeps battling Despres
The MRW rider arrives to finish line together with the French rider who, starting the stage behind, is now 2 minutes and 22 seconds in front in the overall standings. forced to retire yesterday night due to mechanical problems.
The battle between Marc Coma and Cyril Despres which is the highlight of this 2012 is so close that, after 11 days of competition, several thousand kilometres and more than 37 hours fighting against the clock, they are only separated by 2 minutes and 22 seconds. In the marathon stage held today, they both crossed the finish line together, after the French rider was able to recover the distance won by Coma yesterday. They finished first and third, respectively, separated by Gerard Farrés, who led most of the stage.
The bad news were for Joan Pedrero, Marc Coma's team mate. Pedrero suffered yesterday a mechanical failure in his KTM engine on kilometre 239, in an area of dunes, and could not continue. He tried to be towed to Arica so that he would be able to keep helping Coma, but the MRW rider finally had to accept that he was out of the race.
Today the Dakar saw again a raging battle between Marc Coma and Cyril Despres for victory. In the second longest stage of the rally, Coma started two minutes ahead of Despres and, after a navigation mistake 40 kilometres after the start of the timed stage, they both got together with yesterday's stage winner, Joan Barreda, and did not separate until the finish line. Despres achieved the fastest time, followed by a brilliant Gerard Farrés and, 2 minutes and 1 second behind, Marc Coma.
Only three stages before the end of the Rally, the most tiny detail can make a difference. The key for Coma in today's marathon stage was to preserve his machine as much as possible, as tonight there will be no assistance. The second part of the classical Dakar stage will take place tomorrow between Arequipa and Nasca, after a night where the riders will have to revise their bikes by themselves. Ahead awaits a 505km route, 246 of them timed, where the dunes will be again the main protagonist and the starting order will be crucial.
"Every day is crucial now, because we are reaching the end of the Dakar and there are less chances to make a mistake and recover. The situation in this moment is difficult, Cyril [Despres] is a bit more of two minutes in front of us, although tomorrow, with him going out first and us in third, we can be able to reduce the difference.
Today was a complicated day, with a difficult stage where we found a lot of dust and a river where the water reached our knees. At the beginning of the stage the first riders made a mistake and we regrouped to find the correct way. After that we completed the rest of the stage together, although from the last control point Cyril pushed a lot to try and increase the difference. Tomorrow will be another important day and the mechanics might be crucial, as it is a marathon stage".
"Yesterday was a very hard day. I started very far back and I pushed a lot to recover. In the first control everything went well, I felt comfortable. Before starting the dunes area the oil light turned on and the engine started to make noise and at the beginning of the dunes it stopped. Miguel Puertas pushed me a bit, but we both fell, we had a lot of problems and we could not advance, so I told him to go. Later a quad tried to tow me but when passing a dune I was thrown to the air. I was very scared because I flew several metres.
Finally, the quad left and I waited many hours in the dunes until I had to retire. My assessment of the race is good, because I had a good pace, I surprised myself. Physically I feel very well, which means the preparation was good. I also learnt a lot about navigation, which is always positive.
Although I am disappointed to have been forced to retire, I did not suffer any crash, and that is positive. From now on I'll be with Marc [Coma] in all the bivouacs to help him in whatever he needs, motivate him and be at his side when he wins the Dakar as we all expect".