Spaniard Marc Coma earned his first stage victory on Monday and now leads the Dakar Rally as it enters Day 3.
Action in the 2012 Dakar Rally continued Monday with riders participating in a 295km special on the way to San Rafael. After finishing runner-up on the first day, Spaniard Marc Coma nabbed his first stage win more than a minute ahead of Frenchman Cyril Despres and now leads the competition. Meanwhile Francisco Lopez, who had the lead during the morning, suffered troubled with his GPS and ended the day back in fourth more than two and a half minutes behind Husqvarna rider Joan Bort. Lopez is now running second overall 2:30 behind Coma with Despres quickly closing in.
“I felt well, my Aprilia is really fast, and the team has made a great work on the engine,” said Lopez. “Only at the dunes Marc [Coma] got me and I took some risks. Then I decided to let go. I know I´m at 85% of my top physical condition, and I prefer to go stage by stage, with no particular goal. For now, things are running great.”
Day 2 featured a variety of fast bends and large sand dunes located near Nihuil. Testing speed, patience and navigation, most riders agreed the route was harder than the first day.
“Today’s stage could be divided in two parts,” said Coma. “The first one was very fast, all the time at full speed, where it was difficult for me to catch the Aprilia. From that moment on, the stage was more technical, with more dunes and requiring more attention to the riding and navigation.”
The stage proved especially hard on Americans Quinn Cody and Jonah Street. Cody was at a standstill 70km from the finish line and lost several minutes on his rivals, eventually finishing outside the top-20 and dropping down to 20th overall. Street also came to a halt after suffering what
MRW KTM’s Cyril Despres had a much better performance on Day 2 and is currently 22 seconds behind Lopez in third.
appeared to be a mechanical failure on his Yamaha WR450F. After being unable to repair his bike alone, it may already be the end of his Dakar run.
Following his third-place finish in Stage 2, Bort continues to move toward the front thanks to a strong performance on Day 2. Polish rider Jakub Przygonski was 4:17 behind the leader at the finish line, followed by Frenchman David Casteu. Other top finishers of the day included Norwegian Pal Anders Ullevalseter in seventh and Argentina’s Javier Pizzolito just 16 seconds behind.
Tomorrow competitors will face a real challenge as the route heads into the Andes Mountains. River crossings, stones and pot holes will test each rider’s mettle through a 270km special as the rally moves to San Juan.
Marc Coma (ESP – KTM) 1st, 1st OA
“The start of the special was very fast today. Chaleco and me were riding at top speed and let me tell you, the Aprilia is very, very quick. After that, we arrived at the second part of the special with sand and dunes. It was a lot more technical, with some navigation to do as well. I took the lead and kept riding at a good pace. I’m happy because I didn’t get lost. So, it’s been a good day for me!”
Cyril Despres (FRA – KTM) 2nd, 3rd OA
“The first special was a good warm-up and this second special has done my confidence good… It was a good day overall. There was a bit of dust this morning overtaking, but most of the riders gave me enough room to pass, so I’d like to thank them. As for the second part of the special, it wasn’t as easy on sand that was quite soft. All in all though, it was a pretty good day.”
Joan Barreda Bort (ESP – Husqvarna) 3rd, 5th OA
“It’s an incredible experience to be riding amongst the leaders and following guys like Coma, Chaleco or Jakub, because you have to ride fast and you learn a lot. I’m overjoyed. At the end, I eased off a bit, because my aim is to finish the Dakar and I didn’t want to have a crash on just the 2nd day, but I’m really happy with how I rode today.”
Francisco Lopez (CHL – Aprilia) 4th, 2nd OA
“I opened the road until the 240 km point, with Marc following me, but then when we got to the dunes, he overtook me. I found it a bit difficult to follow, because I had a problem with my GPS aerial and I’m also quite tired. But these first two days of racing were important for me, to see how I am physically. I’m happy to have reached the finishing line. For the moment, I’m not thinking about the general standings, but I think there was a lot to lose today, because the special was very long and tricky.”
Jakub Przygonski (POL – KTM) 5th, 4th OA
“The start was very fast today and I preferred to take my hand off the gas because I was worried about the rear foam tube failing, but I slowed down too much and lost quite a lot of time. So after the supply point, I rode a lot harder in the dunes and sand and it was better. In any case, I’m happy to have reached the finishing line.”
2012 Dakar Rally Stage 2 Results:
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 03:07:21
2. Cyril Despres, FRA (KTM) 03:08:39
Husqvarna’s Joan Bort had a strong performance in the second stage to finish on the podium. He is currently fifth overall.
3. Joan Barreda Bort, ESP (Husqvarna) 03:09:54
4. Francisco Lopez, CHL (Aprilia) 03:10:05
5. Jakub Przygonski, POL (KTM) 03:11:38
6. David Casteu, FRA (Yamaha) 03:14:35
7. Pal Anders Ullevalseter, NOR (KTM) 03:16:32
8. Javier Pizzolito, ARG (Honda) 03:16:46
9. Alain Duclos, FRA (Aprilia) 03:16:48
10. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (KTM) 03:16:56
2012 Dakar Rally Overall Standings:
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 03:40:12
2. Francisco Lopez, CHL (Aprilia) 03:42:42
3. Cyril Despres, FRA (KTM) 03:43:04
4. Jakub Przygonski, POL (KTM) 03:45:04
5. Joan Barreda Bort, ESP (Husqvarna) 03:48:28
6. David Casteu, FRA (Yamaha) 03:48:38
7. Javier Pizzolito, ARG (Honda) 03:49:50
8. Pal Anders Ullevalseter, NOR (KTM) 03:50:50
9. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (KTM) 03:51:57
10. Jordi Viladoms, ESP (KTM) 03:52:22