David Casteu had quite the scare on the starting line as he was faced with the possibility of running the special section with a faulty fuel injection system. Fortunately, a delay allowed him the time to fix it and compete without any mechanical woes.
American Chris Blais was poised to take over second place as his French competitor David Casteu struggled with fuel injection problems during the 124 km liaison to start Stage 14. This was exactly the kind of lucky break the Red Bull KTM team was hoping for as Casteu’s results have been rock solid throughout the rally. However, just as thing were looking up for the American for the start of today’s 225 km special test, the group of riders were postponed for a half-hour while organizers waited for dense traffic to clear on the route. The extra time was enough for Casteu to sort out his EFI troubles and attack the timed section in usual fashion.
The stage was won by Jean De Azevedo, the first victory of the rally for the Brazilian KTM pilot. Poland’s Jacek Czachor got his second podium with a runner up finish that broke him into the top-10 overall. Czachor was 2’05 behind De Azevedo who clocked the fasted time at 2:37’46. Janis Vinters was the third fastest, but not the sole Vinters to appear on today’s leaderboard. Einars Vinters managed a 10th-place finish by clocking in at 2:54’38.
Blais finished fourth, 5’12 behind the leader. Gauloises KTM teammates Cyril Despres and Casteu finished fifth and sixth, respectively. After the rollercoaster of opportunity was finished, Casteu surrendered only five minutes of his lead to the American. Blais has one final chance to gain 17 minutes that separates him from second place. Unfortunately, the final stage is only 16 km long which means the American will have to settle for third.
Jean De Azevedo (KTM Petrobras) – Winner, 25th OA
For the last day of the race, it was a hard stage. There were a lot of parallel trails and I had to pay close attention to the road book. I started 10th this morning and caught up on 5 other bikers. Then I drove alone for almost 140 km. I wanted to make the most of my driving as I had done every day. Since the beginning of the rally when I lost all my options of being in the top 5, I focused on the day-to-day racing of each stage. It’s my second stage victory on the Dakar after the one of 2005. I am very happy and proud too because I am the only Brazilian to have won something on the Dakar.
Chris Blais (Red Bull KTM) – 4th, 3rd OA
It’s good to be in Dakar. It’s just awesome to see the sea after so many days in the desert. I am happy this is over. Today, I took my time. On km 56, Cyril Despres who was in front of me made a navigation error. I found the right trail right away, but then he caught up with me. The initial goal was to be in the top 3 but as we saw, in the Dakar, you never know what will happen until the race is actually over.
Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) – 5th, 1st OA
I am not overly impressed by being first in the overall rankings because since the beginning of the rally I have been taking things as they came. Today I still wasn’t quite sure I would have a good day because I had lost a lot of time in the same stage last year. But this time the road book was perfect; I did not get it wrong once. I can’t say I’m totally relieved as there is still a small stretch tomorrow. But once you’ve gone such a long way, you pay attention to everything. I recall Fabrizio (Meoni) telling me that the Dakar was really over when the bike was in the lock park after the very last special stage. It’s also what Marc (Coma) told me yesterday after his accident. I’m starting to believe them both.
David Casteu (Gauloises KTM) – 6th, 2nd OA
The day was crazy. I did not have a single problem in the whole rally and today, it started in the connection already; I almost collided into a donkey, it was a very close call. Then I realized that the gas feeder pipe was ripped off. I was in total panic. I managed to repair and I had the luck of hearing that the special stage had been postponed by half-an-hour. If it hadn’t been the case, I would have lost my second place. I’ve always been a lucky guy.
Stage 14 Results:
1. De Azevedo, KTM
2. Czachor, KTM
3. Vinters, KTM
4. Blais, KTM
5. Despres, KTM
6. Casteu, KTM
7. Goncalves, Hon
8. Marchini, Yam
9. Ullevalseter, KTM
10. Vinters, KTM
For more information and live tracking, visit www.dakar.com.
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