KTM’s Marc Coma extended his advantage in the rally after winning Stage 8 ahead of rival Cyril Despres.
Spaniard Marc Coma returned to winning form on Monday with a victory in Stage 8 of the 2011 Dakar Rally. Covering the 776 km from Antofagasta to Copiapo fastest, Coma snared his third victory of the rally with an advantage of 1:55 ahead of 2010 Dakar title holder, Cyril Despres and 4:21 ahead of Aprilia’s Francisco Lopez. The resulting victory for Coma pushes his lead in the overall competition to more than nine minutes ahead of KTM’s Despres.
Stage 8 of the rally contained numerous navigation challenges as riders had to leap-frog from valley to valley across immense open spaces. After crossing terrain that lacked visual landmarks, riders were then forced to hold their own against a difficult sandy section in the final stretch to the day’s finish. Lopez kicked the day off by being the first to leave ahead of Despres and Coma. Just 43 km out Despres snatched Lopez’s lead away and immediately after Portugal’s Paulo Goncalves rode to the front of the field after starting from eighth. Tragedy struck Goncalves 13 km later, however, when he had a serious crash that resulted in a broken collarbone. Following the accident Coma resumed the lead and after passing the 118 km point the Spaniard had established nearly a two-minute lead ahead of his rival. Meanwhile Pal Anders Ullevalseter of Norway proved he’s becoming well-adjusted to his KTM by remaining just 2:38 adrift of the leader.
Despres had the lead temporarily but lost it around the 50 km mark, eventually finishing nearly two minutes behind Coma.
After crossing through Checkpoint 4 Coma and Despres had created a major gap over the competition as Yamaha’s Helder Rodrigues and Lopez traded positions back and forth for third. Around 50 km later Lopez had retaken third place and was trailing Coma by more than three and a half minutes heading into the final stretch of Stage 8. Coma ultimately claimed the win as Ullevalseter and Rodrigues rounded out the top-five finishers. Lopez lost ground on the overall leader after finishing more than four minutes behind Coma in Stage 8. As a result the Chilean rider needs to make-up more than 22 minutes if his aims to claim the 2011 Dakar title.
American Jonah Street continued having more issues with his Yamaha WR450F during Stage 8. Shortly after the second checkpoint Street was forced to stop for at least 10 minutes while undertaking repairs. This makes it the second day in a row that Street has struggled with his bike and finished outside the top-20. Meanwhile fellow American rider Quinn Cody experienced another solid day for his Honda team. Cody placed 10th in Stage 8 and is now eighth in the overall standings.
Marc Coma (ESP – KTM) 1st, 1st OA
“It was a hard stage and very long with plenty of mileage and dunes. With Cyril and Chaleco we all rode together. We took turns to open the way, at a very fast pace too. I was happy about the pace today. It was a good stage after a complicated one yesterday. But in the end, everything turned out fine. I’m glad, because it was a 500-km special. That’s a hell of a lot.”
Cyril Despres (FRA – KTM) 2nd, 2nd OA
“It wasn’t too bad at all today. We’ve been on the go for a while: 505 kilometres. And it wasn’t easy to open the way, so obviously the others catch up with you. Chaleco and me opened up the way and we had a great time. Today, the game was to stay right behind following in my tracks. He didn’t take too many risks, but, you know, that happens. You can’t do much about it, but we still distanced the rest of them by miles. Chaleco led the way on all the quick parts and I did the dunes. In the end, the satisfaction came from overtaking them and crossing the finishing line first. It’s not much, but for a day like today it’s a source of satisfaction. The problem with navigation is like in cycling some riders stick to your back wheel like leeches; well, there’s the same thing in rally raids too. But that’s just part of the game.”
Helder Rodrigues (PRT – Yamaha) 4th, 4th OA
“It was a difficult stage for me. I rode 508 km all alone. Coma and Chaleco caught up with me quickly and I didn’t manage to stay with them. Afterwards, I was all on my own and it was tough. Chaleco gained four minutes on me. It’s not much. To only lose four minutes on a day like that is good, it’s positive.”
Pal Anders Ullevalseter (NOR – KTM) 5th, 6th OA
“That was my kind of special. Until half-way through I was doing well, but then I got lost twice. In the end, for the general standings, it was a good result and I’m continuing to climb back up. It’s very positive and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s stage.”
2011 Dakar Rally Stage 8 Results:
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 06:05:02
2. Cyril Despres, FRA (KTM) 06:06:57
Pal Anders Ullevalseter from Norway has been continuing to improve in the second half of the competition and finished fifth in Stage 8.
3. Francisco Lopez Contardo, CHL (Aprilia) 06:09:23
4. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Yamaha) 06:13:40
5. Pal Anders Ullevalseter, NOR (KTM) 06:30:05
6. Ruben Faria, PRT (KTM) 06:34:08
7. Alain Duclos, FRA (Aprilia) 06:41:12
8. Jean de Azevedo, BRA (KTM) 06:43:43
9. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (KTM) 06:47:30
10. Quinn Cody, USA (Honda) 06:48:29
2011 Dakar Rally Overall Standings:
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 32:18:52
2. Cyril Despres, FRA (KTM) 32:28:11
3. Francisco Lopez Contardo, CHL (Aprilia) 32:41:40
4. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Yamaha) 33:00:34
5. Ruben Faria, PRT (KTM) 33:28:51
6. Pal Anders Ullevalseter, NOR (KTM) 34:21:18
7. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (KTM) 34:21:53
8. Quinn Cody, USA (Honda) 34:50:28
9. Jean de Azevedo, BRA (KTM) 35:59:40
10. Henk Knuiman, NLD (KTM) 35:52:29
Video Courtesy of Dakar.com.