Hometown hero, Francisco Lopez Contardo, earned his second stage victory of 2010 and moves one step closer to a podium position in the Rally. The Chilean posted the fastest time during Stage 8 of 5:29:25, finishing 42 seconds ahead of reigning champion Marc Coma while climbimg to third overall.
KTM’s Coma was back on the starting line today after race officials slapped him with a six-hour penalty for a race violation in Stage 7. Coma fell from second to 24th in the overall and it was rumored the Spaniard would withdraw. However, it was just the motivation he needed and he quickly posted the fastest time early on, leading the way at Check Point 1.
Current leader Cyril Despres was the first to depart at 7:30 a.m. The Frenchman was forced to stop 152 miles into the special when both wheels had taken all the abuse they could endure. Despres swapped his front wheel with KTM support rider, Ruben Faria, but opted not to change the rear. This decision haunted him for the remainder of the special, causing him to finish in fifth, but did not affect his overall position.
AMV Red Bull KTM rider Marc Coma returned to the race after yesterday’s slap on the wrist by race officials. He finished with the second best time in Stage 8.
As the riders cleared CP1, Coma had posted the quickest time but was matched by teammate, Alain Duclos, at 1:32:44, with Pal Anders Ullevalseter behind. The Norwegian had surpassed the seven-second deficit by CP2, 1:05 ahead of Duclos and 1:08 in front of Yamaha’s David Fretigne. At CP3, it was still Ullevalseter in the lead with Coma 2:13 down in fourth.
Lopez Contardo boasted the best time at CP4 with a 1:15 window over Ullevalseter, with Fretigne 1:32 shy of the Chilean’s blistering pace. Hard-charging Coma crossed CP5 first, but it was Chaleco who still posted the fastest time. Coma finished 40 seconds ahead of Ullevalseter and 2:19 in front of Fretigne. Overall leader Despres had dropped 5:41 off the leader’s pace finishing behind his countryman Fretigne in fifth. American Jonah Street finished today’s stage 28:47 behind Lopez moving up to seventh in the overall standings.
Tomorrow riders will begin the 340-mile trek back toward La Serena. The 210-mile special begins at 7:15 a.m. with riders facing their last full day in the sand dunes of the Atacama Desert.
Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez Contardo (CHL – Apr) 1st, 3rd OA
“I rode fast, especially since I finished the 7th stage on a bit of a sour note. Today, after the rest day, I wanted to put in a good finish to the stage for all these people waiting for me. I’m happy to offer this stage to the Chilean people, who are supporting me throughout the race. Today there was a bit of everything: stones, navigation and dunes. I’m pleased because it all went well and the bike responded well.”
Marc Coma (ESP – KTM) 2nd, 19th OA
“It was a difficult day, especially because of yesterday and this problem with the penalty. It really was a strange rest day, hard and unusual. Today, I climbed back on my bike to try, like I always do, to do my best and forget all that as well. It was a fine stage with magnificent dunes at the end, whilst there were lots of stones at the beginning. Until the petrol supply point, I kept with the pace. Afterwards, I was out in front, maintained a good pace and navigated well. I’m happy with my day”.
Cyril Despres (FRA – KTM) 5th, 1st OA
“I was battling against myself more than anything on today’s stage! I felt good on the bike, solid, strong and not too tired. I hit two stones, one at the front and one at the back. I didn’t really realise at the time, but when I got to the 245-km point, I saw the state my two wheels were in! Split in two! Smashed to bits! I was lucky because Ruben (Faria), the 2nd rider in the Red Bull team, turned up at that moment. We swapped our front rims, since I didn’t think the back one needed to be changed. When I set off again I made sure I was careful in the stones to look after the back wheel. So, I’m really happy to have finished. On the Dakar anything can happen, so I didn’t take any risks. We were 15’ behind at the petrol point. Luckily, Ruben arrived two or three minutes behind me. He rode well and hadn’t been too rough with the rims. It was a really incredible day”.
2010 Dakar Rally Stage 8 Results:
1. LOPEZ CONTARDO (CHL) APRILIA 05:29:25
2. COMA (ESP) KTM 05:30:07 00:00:42
3. ULLEVALSETER (NOR) KTM 05:30:47 00:01:22
4. FRETIGNE (FRA) YAMAHA 05:32:44 00:03:19
5. DESPRES (FRA) KTM 05:36:08 00:06:43
6. DUCLOS (FRA) KTM 05:36:08 00:06:43
7. RODRIGUES (PRT) YAMAHA 05:41:15 00:11:50
8. PRZYGONSKI (POL) KTM 05:43:32 00:14:07
9. PAIN (FRA) YAMAHA 05:47:25 00:18:00
10. SVITKO (SVK) KTM 05:47:59 00:18:34
2010 Dakar Rally Overall Standings:
1. DESPRES (FRA) KTM 33:46:21
2. ULLEVALSETER (NOR) KTM 35:06:52 01:20:31
3. LOPEZ CONTARDO (CHL) APRILIA 35:10:42 01:24:21
4. RODRIGUES (PRT) YAMAHA 35:11:36 01:25:15
5. DUCLOS (FRA) KTM 35:38:50 01:52:29
6. FRETIGNE (FRA) YAMAHA 35:48:54 02:02:33
7. STREET (USA) KTM 36:14:53 02:28:32
8. PAIN (FRA) YAMAHA 36:28:20 02:41:59
9. BERGLUND (SWE) KTM 36:35:02 02:48:41
10. PEDRERO GARCIA (ESP) KTM 36:36:36 02:50:15
Check out the Stage 8 highlight video courtesy of Dakar.com