The film of the stage Viladoms was the clever one and Sainz takes off closer to victory... The longest special stage of the Dakar ended up shorter due to the low lift level of the sand. But on the remaining 476km of the stage, the...
The film of the stage
Viladoms was the clever one and Sainz takes off closer to victory...
The longest special stage of the Dakar ended up shorter due to the low lift level of the sand. But on the remaining 476km of the stage, the contenders did still have to face the huge sand dunes of the Atacama desert plus some navigation tests as well. In the bike category, Jordi Viladoms benefited from the dubious navigation of the first starters and enjoyed his first stage victory in this edition of the Dakar. Marc Coma glued to the wheel of Despres remains leader in the general standings. In the car category, Carlos Sainz - who gets here his sixth stage victory of the year - has reaffirmed his superiority on sand included. In the truck category, Vladimir Chagin confirms his domination by winning a 4th special stage.
It's under slightly clouded skies that the bikers started stage 10 this morning, a large loop starting and finishing at the splendid Copiapo bivouac. Starting 5th today, it took about 100km to Cyril Despres to catch up on the four riders driving in front of him, i.e. Verhoeven, Fretigne, Coma and Lopez. The title holder recorded the best clocks at each of the four first CP.
But after km 300, the situation changed radically. In the lead of the stage, Cyril Despres had his main contenders e.g. Coma and Lopez in his wheel and drove them - and himself - astray. By a way of consequence, Viladoms and Duclos who had started the stage later benefited from the error and achieved best clocks at km 423 with some significant lead over the top riders in the general standings.
All that remains was the trickiest line of sand dunes but the two bikers in the lead passed it without trouble. Having won a stage in Zouerat two years ago, Jordi Viladoms now gets his second stage success in a Dakar raid. He arrived in front of Franco-Malian biker Alain Duclos who is 1'06" behind the winner and Portugal's Helder Rodrigues at 8'29".
In the general standings, Coma's strategy of tailing Despres paid off again despite the navigation error of the Frenchman. The Catalan looses 3'37" on two-time Dakar winner but wins some ground over David Fretigne, now at 1h24'. The Yamaha rider also had the opportunity of enjoying a long time of going astray and as to the Despres, he is now 1h31' behind the Catalan leader.
After a top-notch performance in yesterday's stage, the loop around Copiapo could have been feared as the ultimate test for Carlos Sainz, still self-proclaimed beginner in driving through sand dunes. Well, it's precisely on this particularly familiar terrain for him that he kept writing a new page in the history of the Dakar, winning his 15th special stage victor in his short Dakar career. Amongst the nine drivers who did as well as he did, Sainz is the only one who never actually won a full Dakar.
However, today's achievement might help him do just that! In addition to a fourth consecutive stage victory, Carlos Sainz has indeed increased his lead in the standings, relegating his first contender and still team-mate, Mark Miller, more than 27 minutes behing. As for Giniel De Villiers, he has lost precious minutes remaining stuck on the way down, at the base of a sand dune. He might now consider giving up in front of the obvious superiority of "El Matador". As to Joan 'Nani' Roma, blocked by the threat of the engine of his Lancer overheating, he can not hope for more than a fourth place 1h13' behind Sainz.
The 'skimming' of the first week of racing is giving new people the opportunity of taking center stage in the 'facebook' of stage winners. This is most certainly the idea at the back of the mind of Orlando Terranova who will have this as a strategy from Copiapo onwards. The Argentinian - often in the standings but never a winner - has immediately given the right pace to his X3 and was timed with the best clock at the first two CP. But as it sometimes happens within the X-Raid team, Orli mistook rushing for spped: after going off trail and sommersaulting several times at km 180, the dreams of a first stage victory on home turf on this Dakar vanished for him. Robby Gordon, who has already won 3 stages in past editions of the Dakar, still has won none in this year's edition. After spending his day tailing Sainz, and even being timed with the best clock at the last two CP, the US driver missed victor by a short 21". Other stage victory opportunities will be rarer for him in the remainder of the race.
The weather conditions having made sand extremely soft, the special stage for trucks was reduced and finished at km 425 i.e. just before the very last and very difficult sand dunes. The rise to power of Vladimir Chagin was confirmed in the Copiapo loop stage. The five-time Dakar winner wins here his fourth stage in this year's edition, his 47th stage victory in his history on the Dakar. In the general standings, he is ahead of Dutch driver Gerard De Rooy by 1'44" and ahead of his team-mate at Kamaz, Firdaus Kabirov by 3'56".
The Czar is now getting even closer to the record 6 victories by Karel Loprais, with more than a 30 min lead over his second in the standings, Kabirov.