Dakar: Stage two report

Faria's moment of glory The many Portuguese fans that gathered on the side of the roads of stage 2 between Portimao and Malaga were overwhelmed to see one of their heroes win the day's special. Indeed Ruben Faria a newcomer on the Euromilhoes ...

Faria's moment of glory

The many Portuguese fans that gathered on the side of the roads of stage 2 between Portimao and Malaga were overwhelmed to see one of their heroes win the day's special. Indeed Ruben Faria a newcomer on the Euromilhoes Dakar 2006 did even better than yesterday when he finished second by clinching his first ever success. In the car race, Carlos Sainz continued impressing for his first Dakar by clinching a second consecutive triumph. Russian Vladimir Chaguin won his second consecutive special in the truck race.

Splendid conditions today on the Dakar: a bright sunshine, the beautiful landscapes of the Algarve area, rather warm temperatures and an enthusiastic crowd all along the 115km of the special. And the icing on the cake was of course the victory of a Portuguese biker. Ruben Faria (KTM -- n160) made the best of his knowledge of a course he knows by heart. Indeed, the 31-year-old is a local from this area of Portugal and his training ground is the same that the Dakar competitors discovered today for stage 2. Add to that the fact that Faria is an enduro and motocross specialist... Everything was therefore set for the KTM privateer to triumph after clocking yesterday's second fastest time on the way to Portimao.

On the muddy and slippery mountainous tracks, Faria clocked a time of 1h37'07, beating official KTM-Gauloises rider Isidre Esteve (KTM -- n3) by over a minute. It was Portugal's 8th special success in the history of the Dakar and the third for a biker after Marques in 1997 and Villar in 2002.

Third man on the day was another newcomer in the Blue team, David Casteu who looked delighted by his first podium finish, 1'28" adrift. Fourth yesterday, Portuguese privateer Helder Rodrigues (YAM -- n55) managed the same performance today while the best of the KTM-Repsol boys, Marc Coma (KTM -- n2) settled for 5th spot. This longest ever Dakar special on European soil saw quite a few privateers enter the leading positions. Pellicer (KTM -- 179) finished 6th, Farres Guell (YAM -- n97) 7th and Goncalves (KTM -- n80) 8th. Taking off in first positions this morning after his victory in stage 1, title-holder Cyril Despres took it easy today. The Frenchman was 11th, losing 3'38" on the day's winner. Certainly a smart move by experienced Despres who will be leaving behind his main rivals for the first African stages.

The new bike overall standing sees Isidre Esteve capture the leadership after his second spot. Ruben Faria who was given a 12' time penalty yesterday for making it late at the start of the special is obviously way behind. Second spot of the rally is for Marc Coma, only 8" adrift of is Spanish compatriot and former KTM-Repsol team mate. Third is surprising Helder Rodrigues who will be enjoying his podium position during the boat crossing to Morocco but should drop back in the standing when the serious business starts tin Africa tomorrow. Title holder Cyril Despres is in a current 5th spot, 1'31" adrift.

The car special was again made for WRC specialists: hilly tracks, slippery curves where pure driving skills were requested to grab victory. And the master on such a course was of course 'El Matador', Carlos Sainz (VW -- n307) who clinched his second success in a row. This time it took the Spaniard 1h34'28" to cover the 115km, beating Luc Alphand (MIT -- n302) by only 25". A good performance from the Frenchman who finished runner-up of last year's event. Third position went to Nasser Al Attiyah (BMW -- n308), another WRC specialist (winner of the Pan- Asian championship) who seemed to have forgotten his disappointing 13th spot yesterday. The following three spots were for the Mitsubishi drivers with Masuoka (MIT -- n306) fourth at 1'01", Roma (MIT -- n304) fifth at 1'02" and Peterhansel (MIT -- n300) sixth at 2'25". The title holder who again was forced to stop because of a puncture. Local hero, Carlos Sousa this time had to settle for an 8th position, over 3' off the winning pace.

The overall leadership of course remains in the hands of Carlos Sainz who can enjoy a 3'45" advantage on Luc Alphand before the first African stage in Morocco.

The truck race saw Vladimir Chaguin (KAM -- n508) clinch his second consecutive stage in this 2006 Dakar and his fourth straight success after winning the last two specials of last year's event. The Russian who now has 36 stage victories under the belt beat Andre De Azevedo (TAT -- n513) by 1'30" and Miki Biasion (IVE -- n512) by 4'30. But the race only saw a few trucks make it to the finish line. Indeed Tomas Tomecek (TAT -- n518) suffered a major crash and his big Tatra blocked the path to all the following trucks. The unlucky competitors behind the Czech vehicle will all be given a same time.

-dakar.com-

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Series Dakar
Drivers Carlos Sainz , Luc Alphand , Miki Biasion , Carlos Sousa , Cyril Despres , Tomas Tomecek , Marc Coma , David Casteu , Helder Rodrigues , Ruben Faria