Coma takes a new stage victory
The MRW rider adds his third stage victory and cuts in two minutes Despres' advantage in the overall standings, now of 7 minutes and 48 seconds. Pedrero is eleventh.
The alternation between Marc Coma and Cyril Despres at the 2012 Dakar repeated again in today's stage, a 573 kilometre loop with start and finish at Copiapió, the first stage held in Chile. If two days ago Coma lost 1 minute and 41 seconds, today the MRW rider recovered 2 minutes and 3 seconds from Cyril Despres, who still leads the race, now with an advantage of 7 minutes and 48 seconds over the Spaniard. Eleventh was Joan Pedrero, who finished nearly 12 minutes behind his team mate and keeps the tenth overall position.
After the cancellation of yesterday's stage, when the Dakar Caravan crossed the Andes, today Cyril Despres had to start first after his victory two days ago. Kilometre after kilometre, Coma kept getting closer in the first part of the stage, catching him before reaching halfway. After a link of 58 kilometres, they both started together and that is how the rode the next 200 kilometres, held on sand and dunes that prevented any of them to escape.
In this stage Joan Pedrero was eleventh, 11 minutes and 47 seconds behind his team mate. A result that reinforces his position in the top ten of the overall standings, after the 15-minute penalty he received two days ago for changing the engine of his bike. Pedrero is now tenth, 1 hour and 22 minutes behind Despres.
With a week of competition behind, tomorrow the Dakar caravan will be stopped in Copiapó for the resting day, a well deserved stop before starting with the second half of the Rally, with nearly 4000 kilometres ahead. After 1,553 timed kilometres, there are still 2,500 against the clock, especially two stages of more than 500 kilometres, a marathon stage, the Atacama desert and all the unknowns awaiting in Peru.
"The first part of today's stage were 140 kilometres of fast track, which required little navigation and had a lot of dust. After that, the scenery changed completely and we entered the desert in the Copiapó area, with a lot of off-track and navigation.
In the final part we found a string of dunes that, having to open the track, required a lot of work. It's the usual before the resting day.
We arrive to the race halfway point with options, nearly eight minutes behind Cyril [Despres], a difference which is not impossible to recover. It's true that it will be difficult, but seeing the race left, which in kilometres is more than a half, I am optimist and today's stage helped me a lot psychologically".
"Truth is I am very happy, because today I saw that the tests in Morocco were worthy.
Riding off track is where years ago I was worse and now I was able to be more confident, I don't fear the dunes or the off track areas so much, before I respected them a lot.
Today I did all the dunes ust beside Hélder Rodrigues, and I'm very happy with how it went".