Coma second in longest stage while opening track
The MRW rider is second in the longest stage of the Rally, keeping the concentration despite yesterday's non-competitive problems. Joan Pedrero is twelfth and keeps the ninth place overall.
Marc Coma completed with the second fastest time the longest stage of the 2012 Dakar. The MRW rider covered the 556-kilometre stage in 5 hours, 8 minutes and 27 seconds, 3 minutes and 54 seconds behind Cyril Despres, who recovered the lead of the race, with an advantage of 2 minutes and 28 seconds over the Spaniard. Pedrero, who was cautious in this stage, finished twelfth, 27 minutes and 8 seconds behind the winner.
After yesterday's controversial stage, which Coma won, and the change of engine yesterday night —planned by KTM— in the bikes of the MRW rider and his main rival in the battle for victory, Cyril Despres, which will mean a penalty for both of them of 15 minutes, the Spaniard had to open the track in today's stage. Coma faced a long first part of the stage that took him along more than 300 kilometres of tracks with dirt and stones until the terrain opened when he arrived to a resting area, in kilometre 340. By that time he was losing three minutes and a half and at the end of the day, after the last 100 timed kilometres, Coma lost nearly 4 minutes due to the tough and dangerous job of opening track. That result places him in second position overall behind Despres, who has an advantage of nearly two minutes and a half.
A complicated day for Joan Pedrero who, starting from eighth position after the changes made in yesterday's classification, finished in twelfth position, 27 minutes and 8 seconds behind the fastest time. The MRW rider started cautiously and after the first control was losing nearly one minute, which placed him provisionally in the twenty-third place. He recovered time as kilometres went by and finished the stage in twelfth place, setting a time of 5 hours, 31 minutes and 42 seconds, 27 minutes behind the winner. Today's result reinforces his ninth position overall and allows him to keep doing his job of helping Marc, which he has been doing faultlessly up to now.
Following its way north, the 2012 Dakar will go tomorrow from Iquique to Arica, in a new stage of nearly 700 kilometres, 377 of them timed.
"I am happy of the way the day went, because it was very long, all the time opening track and also difficult due to yesterday's non-competitive problems. Cyril [Despres] started from behind and was able to recover a lot of time. I had to fight a lot and do my best, sometimes with the feeling that you have to fight against a lot of things.
Physically I feel very well, comfortable on the bike and I am happy for it, although after opening track yesterday and having today such a long stage again being the first on track, you accumulate tiredness. The stage today had its complications, alternating off-track navigation with tracks and some traps.
It is important to have arrived here because we arrive to a decisive part of the Rally and in the end it will be the small details which decide the result. When the difference between the riders are so small, the little things are which decide. Let's see if it is the competitive what makes the headlines and not the rest".
"It was a very long and tough stage. At the beginning it was very fast, with many dangers on track, so I decreased the pace and I didn't feel very comfortable. It was a complicated day, but in the last part I enjoyed it, crossing an area with beautiful dunes.
I am happy for having finished, which is important, to be able to keep helping Marc [Coma]. Today he lost the lead, but we will keep fighting for victory, that's what we are working to achieve and I am sure we will win it".