Dramatic coup from Coma
The MRW rider achieves his fourth stage victory and takes the lead of the race with an advantage of 1 minute and 26 seconds. Pedrero was seventh and goes up to the ninth position overall.
Marc Coma turned around the classification in this eight stage of the Dakar, winning the 477 kilometre stage with an advantage of 7 minutes over the second and more than 17 over Cyril Despres who, benefited by the cancellation of part of the route, saw that 17 turn into 9, finisheing less than 1 minute and a half from the MRW rider in the overall standings. His team mate at the MRW Red Bull AMV Team, Joan Pedrero, finished seventh, 10 minutes and 31 seconds behind Coma and took the ninth place overall.
With renewed strength after the resting day yesterday at Copiapó, the Dakar caravan had to face the longest stage up to now, with 477 timed kilometres that had Coma more than 5 hours on the bike. It was a stage on dirt and stone tracks until reaching Antofagasta where, with the rains of the previous days, had turned into a mud trap for the participants. A day that Coma finished with a faultless performance, crossing the finish line with an advantage of 7 seconds over the second.
His main rival during the first week, Cyril Despres, had problems 10 kilometres after the start, as he was trapped in the mud. He lost 8 minutes before being able to restart, but the difference with Coma kept increasing until 17 minutes and 20 seconds at the end of the day. Nevertheless, after the arrival of the first seven participants, the organizers changed the route and the marshals adjusted the times for all competitors, a change that greatly benefited Despres, as he only lost 9 minutes and 14 seconds, a time that leaves him 1 minute and 26 seconds behind Coma.
A very good performance from Joan Pedrero, who started fifteenth after his result of two days ago and finished with the seventh fastest time of the day. The MRW rider completed the 477 timed kilometres in 5 hours, 14 minutes and 23 seconds, 10 minutes and 32 seconds more than Coma. In the overall standings, the Spaniard is now ninth, 1 hour, 26 minutes and 31 seconds behind his team mate.
Without time for resting, tomorrow they will face the longest stage of the 2012 Dakar, with no less than 557 timed kilometres between Antofagasta and Iquique, where the navigation will again be the protagonist.
"It was a difficult day, a first part with a lot of mud, where I saw that some riders might have trouble, because it was also hard for me. I got blocked once and I had to work hard to continue.
After that I tried to push until the CP1 and see where the others were. I saw that I was recovering time and I tried to push until the end.
I didn't know exactly what was happening but I imagined they had some trouble with the mud. In the last 100 kilometres I decided to lower the pace a bit and arrive calmly to the end".
"I started fifteenth and in the first 100 kilometres I had a very hard time, because I had to recover to be near Marc [Coma]. It was complicated, because I found a lot of dust from other riders.
After the first CP (Control Point) I was able to overtake some rivals taking some risks, because I found some stones that damaged the front wheel, but luckily I could arrive to the end.
I was lucky in the river, I wasn't blocked in the mud and I am happy with my position and with Marc's victory, who has recovered the lead, which is very important for the team".