The film of the stage Coma wins like a conqueror, De Villiers finishes with panache Those used to the Dakar in Africa might still have in mind the last special stage 'just for the fun of it' on the banks of Lake Rose which was not more than ...
The film of the stage
Coma wins like a conqueror, De Villiers finishes with panache
Those used to the Dakar in Africa might still have in mind the last special stage 'just for the fun of it' on the banks of Lake Rose which was not more than 100km long. This one in the Santa Fe province towards Rosario, the birthplace of a certain Ernesto Guevara, was much more than a last easy hurdle. In the bike race, Marc Coma quietly offered a thrid title to Spain by winning his second Dakar. But the last special stage in the 2009 Dakar goes to Portuguese rider Helder Rodrigues. In the car race, Giniel De Villiers finally gets the supreme honor of winning after several years of Mitsubishi domination on the Dakar. For this 31st edition, it is Volkswagen that found a strategy that paid off: the Race Touareg becomes the first diesel engine to win the king of all rally-raids with the second satisfaction of putting another car, the one of Mark Miller on the second place on the podium. The South-African finishes his victorious rally in style with - again - the best clock in the special stage. Robby Gordon completes this 100% English-speaking podium with his Hummer.
227 km of special stage that was the distance between Marc Coma and his second Dakar victory. The Spaniard did not flinch on the fast and technical trails between Cordoba and Buenos Aires. Three years after his first triumph in Senegal, on the other side of the ocean, the Catalan became the first Dakar winner in Latin America.
Starting right after his main contender Cyril Despres, just like two days ago, the KTM Repsol rider took it easy on his bike and mainly on his tyres before crossing the finish line with a discrete smile on his face. His contender in the general standings, the title-holder kept on gaining back the time lost on Coma - more than 1h30 - in the first 3 stages of the raid, that will have proved to be decisive for the final victory and raced ahead gaining back 2'25" on the leader in this last stage.
But the stage victory was actually fought between two riders on the hunt for the fifth place in the general standings: Helder Rodrigues and Pal Anders Ullevalseter only 44" apart in the standings before the start of the stage. The first one reached CP1(km 88) with a tiny but precious 3" lead. The lead of the Portuguese rider kept on increasing on the Norwegian whose rear tyre was increasingly damaged. Two years after his victory in Nema in Mauritania, Rodrigues wins his third special stage in a Dakar and finishes 2'07" ahead of Ullevalseter and 2'41" ahead of Despres.
As to the final standings, Marc Coma wins the bike race with a comfortable 1h25 lead over Despres. David Fretigne, on his small 450cc Yamaha, finishes the rally with a wonderful third place at 1h37 of the winner.
In the car race, the suspense as to the final victory was seriously reduced at the start of this last special stage, the team orders of the Volkswagen team had already been respected to the letter the day before. Apart from a serious - and very unlikely - driving error or a mechanical breakdown, nothing could deprive Giniel De Villiers from his first Dakar victory. But the South-African driver decided to play the card of calculated risk, just to add even more panache to his already convincing track-record this year.
The victory of the last stage to be won near Rosario was the last prestigious award of this edition, so Guerlain Chicherit fought hard to finish as fast as he started this morning making sure that he would keep the wheels of his X3 under its center of gravity still. Its efforts were rewarded by the best clock at CP1, but the man in the lead of the race then reasserted his authority. For the next clocks, it was Leonid Novitskiy and Krzysztof Holowczyc who were De Villiers' main opponents. A master in his art, on fast and windy trails that he knows as well as the sand they are made of, the South-African played it naturally cool. Easy! With a fourth stage victory this year - the 12th in his Dakar career - De Villiers further strengthened his lead over his team-mate Mark Miller, second in the general standings at 8'59''.
Nicolas Gibon did not need to tremble much for his position in the lead of the T2 category. In this last day of race, the young Toyota driver managed to get - once again - the best clock in the "Production" category. With his 14th position in the general standings, Gibon finishes serenely this battle from a distance against Xavier Foj who ended the raid an hour behind in the standings.
The last special stage could also have been guided by team orders in the Kamaz clan with a view to Vladimir Chagin matching the good old record of Karel Loprais and his six victories, but the Russian truck maker let both top drivers fight it out on the trail. And the trail gave victory to Firdaus Kabirov, who got the best clock of the day, won his fourth stage this year and stayed in the lead in the general standings. It is with a 3'39'' on Chagin that Kabirov wins his second Dakar after his 2005 victory. The Czar will have to wait...