Marc Coma picked up the stage victory on and got a surprise gift from his main competitor, Cyril Despres.
Riders headed back to Argentina today in Stage 10 of the 2011 Dakar Rally Raid and who would have thought that with all the desert terrain and arid sand dunes, a mud hole would have the biggest effect? Navigational woes continue to hound all of the motorcycle riders, but factory KTM rider and runner-up in the overall standings, Cyril Despres, found himself stuck in a mud hole late in the special which allowed for the first sizeable gap this year in the race for Dakar glory.
It was not to be a short day as the riders, now down to 103 bikes, started out with a 686 km transfer out of Copiapo, Chile. However, the special stage was comparatively short and Spain’s Marc Coma easily picked up the win with nearly 10 minutes cushion over his rival. Despite getting lost earlier in the 176-kilometer special while following Frans Verhoeven, and then the gooey mud-hole misfortune, Despres managed a time good enough for second on the day. Portugal’s Ruben Faria was over three minutes back for the final podium spot. KTM-mounted Miran Stanovnik came from way back to post his best result thus far. In the nine previous stages, the Slovenian had only managed to crack the top-20 on two occasions, but he landed in fourth amid today’s anarchy. Chilean rider Francisco Lopez Contardo broke up a KTM sweep of the top-five with his Aprilia. The local hero is now over 45 minutes behind Coma in the overall standings.
Jonah Street experienced the downside of yesterday’s victory by leading out the difficult special. The American got lost and dropped behind the leaders where Despres led Coma at the first check point, though it was Helder Rodrigues who came through with the best time early on. The Yamaha rider stretched his lead to over three minutes ahead of Coma by CP2 before getting off track, eventually finishing a very disappointing 27:46 behind the Spaniard.
David Casteu (shown here in Stage 4) had a very difficult day with bike problems that delayed him more than six hours.
However, his troubles weren’t nearly as bad as David Casteu’s who had a horrendous day after suffering engine problems while 406 km into the morning transfer. The Frenchman stopped over in Fiambala where he was working on the Sherco machine. Eventually he would check in at the start of the special, but had to return to Fiambala to finish making repairs and didn’t disembark on the actual stage until nearly six hours later. It has certainly been a long rally for Casteu who was not scored for Stage 10, though he’s not currently listed as a withdrawal.
American Quinn Cody was as high as third at different points throughout the day and was fifth at the final waypoint. After climbing the results chart for the past few days, the Honda rider seemed to be figuring out the rally game, but problems in the final kilometers dropped him to 50th, just one position in front of Street. Quinn is currently 10th overall with Street down in 16th.
Marc Coma (ESP – KTM) 1st, 1st OA
“It was another very difficult special. We know that Fiambala is one of the hardest days of the rally. There was a lot of navigation and a part with soft dunes. Then, in a dry river bed, it was just as complicated because it was difficult to navigate. We got a bit lost, but managed to find the right track and finish off decently. There are two very hard days left and the last special to think about as well. It’s always good to win, but there are still two days. Today, it was good right from the start. I was behind to start with, but I managed to ride the fastest.”
Cyril Despres (FRA – KTM), 2nd, 2nd OA
“I made a first big mistake after 120 km whilst I was riding well. I read 17 instead of 117 on the navigation and I ended up in the rocks with Verhoeven. We already lost lots of time there, but then in the last few kilometers I made another mistake, turned round and fell into a mud hole. It was impossible to get back out, it took me 10 minutes in all. I thought I was going to lose even more time. It’s a bad day, but that’s rally raids for you, some days are good, some are bad.”
Ruben Faria (PRT – KTM) 3rd, 5th OA
“It was a very difficult stage… crazy. I got lost at least three or four times, but it wasn’t’ too bad. Everyone got lost in the dry river bed towards the end.”
Helder Rodrigues (PRT – Yamaha) 10th, 4th OA
“It was the same as yesterday! I started behind Marc and Cyril and I caught up with them. Afterwards, about 10 kilometers from here, we got lost in a dry river bed and couldn’t find the way out. I lost a lot of time there. That’s two days in a row now. It’s hard to take.”
2011 Dakar Rally Stage 10 Results:
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 03:06:35
2. Cyril Despres, FRA (KTM) 03:16:31
3. Ruben Faria, PRT (KTM) 03:19:57
4. Miran Stanovnik, SVN (KTM) 03:28:01
5. Francisco Lopez Contardo, CHL (Aprilia) 03:28:18
6. Henk Knuiman, NLD (KTM) 03:28:46
7. Javier Pizzolito, ARG (Honda) 03:28:51
8. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (KTM) 03:31:15
9. Alain Duclos, FRA (Aprilia) 03:33:31
10. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Yamaha) 03:34:21
2011 Dakar Rally Overall Standings:
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 38:39:31
2. Cyril Despres, FRA (KTM) 38:57:41
3. Francisco Lopez Contardo, CHL (Aprilia) 39:24:47
4. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Yamaha) 40:09:08
5. Ruben Faria, PRT (KTM) 40:14:13
6. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (KTM) 41:08:55
7. Pal Anders Ullevalseter, NOR (KTM) 41:16:10
8. Jean de Azevedo, BRA (KTM) 41:50:37
9. Henk Knuiman, NLD (KTM) 42:39:51
10. Quinn Cody, USA (Honda) 42:49:51
Video courtesy of Dakar.com