Dakar: KTM stage 6 report

The Spanish team dominated again and Sala dropped out The Spaniards have obviously found the perfect terrain in Morocco. Again they were able to claim a double-victory only swapped places. Nani Roma won ahead of Isidre Esteve. The second guy ...

The Spanish team dominated again and Sala dropped out

The Spaniards have obviously found the perfect terrain in Morocco. Again they were able to claim a double-victory only swapped places. Nani Roma won ahead of Isidre Esteve. The second guy stomped through the bivouac making a grim face. It wasn't because Nani had overtaken him today, but because a technical problem has caused him the leadership. "At first everything was working very well. I took special care of my tires because the track was littered with rocks. After 100 kilometers my trip master stopped working and 80 kilometers further my substitution trip master was gone as well. From than on I could only use my GPS to navigate. I waited for Nani after CP 2 (kilometer 206). Yes, I was really ticked off. I did not make any mistake and still I couldn't win."

Nani Roma understood his team-mate's feelings. Nevertheless, he is happy about his triumph. "Winning the stage made my pretty happy. I attuned to a good rhythm for the difficult track. I just hope it stays like that."

Fabrizio Meoni coolly states about the outcome of the stage. "The Spaniards practiced in Morocco. They know the surroundings like the back of their heads." Asked about his own performance (position 9) today, he answered: "It isn't doing any good to look at the overalls just yet. I ride my own race and I'm glad if I bring myself and the two-cylinder bike safely across the finish line. At the first stages my motorbike could not perform all that well. Tomorrow I should be able to ride at full speed."

Although Cyril Despres (position 4) rides on a KTM 660 Rally he basically expresses the same when he answers: "I ride at 96 %. My stages are yet to come." With that the young Frenchman shows what the previous years have taught him: to be patient. Earlier the hothead has had his problems with that.

Even a rally-fox like Alfie Cox had to pull out all the stops and optimize his riding style. Today is his 41st birthday (Congratulations!). "The track moved up and down and it felt like a trampoline. Also there were unbelievably many jumps today. I've ridden the track three times already, but never before had it been that dusty and rocky." Alfie arrived in 6th today and just wanted to forget the race. The breakdown of Giovanni Sala was way more painful for him. "I feel sad for Gio. I hope he will soon be okay again. It is even harder for me now. For Meoni and I Gio was to be of great help if anything did happened to us on the way. We will also miss the team results now."

Giovanni Sala badly crashed at kilometer 117. As a result he as broken two of his ribs and suffers a severe thoractic trauma. The nice Italian did not like to talk a whole lot when returning from the doctors. Every word was hurting him badly, "I jumped across a bump when I suddenly saw the big rock on the ground. I missed it with my front wheel, but must directly have hit it with the rear one. Then I crashed and unfortunately now everything is over."

The KTM-Team wishes him to get well soon. We hope to see you next year at the Dakar rally!

In spite of the injury on his forearm, Richard Sainct bravely fought his way through the race. The up and down of the track did demand the last of him. Added to his actually way higher demands (today place 8) and the hurting muscles, something else hurts as well: He was beat by 14 minutes in the overalls. At the moment however, he can do but one thing: To grit his teeth and go for it. Gilles Salvador, manager of the Team Gauloises KTM France explains, "Richard has had pains in his arm from the beginning of the stage when his muscles were still cold. It got better later on. I don't need to worry about tomorrow. Richard is a tough fighter."

The team manager of the American Red Bull Team seemed relaxed at the last finish in Morocco. "We are rookies!" commented Scott Harden. For a "beginner" their performance was fabulous. Harden, who has gained his place among the team because a "replacement" for the injured Casey McCoy was needed, is in the overalls in 13th place. His team-mate Paul Krause is in 25th and Larry Roeseler in 26th position.

With his stage win Nani Roma gained two places in the overall standings. He is now second behind Isidre Esteve with a 1'54 minute leeway. On the 3rd place Cyril Despres (+2'37) is laying in wait.

For the competitors it is time to get their road books ready for the 7th stage. The sooner they get done the faster they get to snuggle into their sleeping bags. Tomorrow a 1055 km stage, the longest one in this year's Dakar, awaits the drivers. Surely the riders will then be spread apart. A little past midnight the drivers will be on their way to Atar. "Liaisons like this one are always problematic," exclaims Nani Roma. "You are tired and you need to ride in darkness." After sunrise the riders start on the special in the north of Mauritania. It is 701 kilometers long. Years ago the route from Tan Tan to Atar had to be crossed within two days. Tomorrow the drivers will have to manage this torture in only one day. And it will surely sort the wheat from the chaff. A crucial day is coming up.


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Series Dakar
Drivers Fabrizio Meoni , Cyril Despres , Alfie Cox , Richard Sainct , Giovanni Sala , Nani Roma , Scott Harden , Larry Roeseler , Paul Krause , Casey McCoy