KTM factory rider Marc Coma rode a determined race to claim his second stage victory of the 2012 Dakar Rally, making up two minutes on rival Cyril Despres.
KTM factory rider Marc Coma compensated for yesterday’s navigational error by winning Stage 4 today, his second stage victory in the 2012 Dakar Rally. Coma was able to shave off a couple minutes from overall leader Cyril Despres, who leapt ahead of Coma yesterday after the Spaniard took a wrong turn. Despres still holds an eight minute, ten second lead heading into Stage 5.
Coma came out strong and was 15 seconds ahead of Despres by the first Way Point. The route from San Juan to Chilecito included the highest climb to date over Sierra de la Punilla, followed by the deep canyons and riverbeds of the La Rioja province. At one point, a muddy river crossing created problems for Coma with his KTM’s front brake, but beyond that he still was able to expand his lead in the mountains before Despres upped his pace to halve the time deficit by Way Point Three. The KTM duo would ultimately finish the latter portion of the race riding together, but Coma crossed the line with a two minute, two second advantage.
Portugal’s Helder Rodrigues made the biggest leap in the overall standings after a strong ride, moving into third overall after jumping past both Francisco Lopez and David Casteu. Rodrigues took advantage of Casteu’s navigational mistake early in the stage and then moved past “Chaleco” not long afterward to finish fourth-fastest on the day.
Helder Rodrigues made the biggest move in Stage 4, jumping up to third in the overall standings after a strong ride.
Following a strong second place showing yesterday, Dutch rider Frans Verhoeven backed it up with a third place finish today, moving up the leaderboard to the seventh overall position. Husqvarna’s Paulo Goncalves finished fifth-fastest in Stage 4 and had an opportunity to do even better were it not for a navigation error at a difficult way point.
“More would have been possible today,” Goncalves said. “I´m mad at myself having made the mistake. It´s positive though that I found and kept a good rhythm. The bike worked flawlessly.”
The rally heads out of Chilecito to the village of Fiambala tomorrow. Between its 151 km link and 265 km time stage, Stage 5 is the shortest of the first half of the rally, but don’t think it’s the easiest because within that stage is a 100 km stretch through the white dunes.
Cyril Despres (FRA – KTM) 2nd, 1st OA “It was difficult because the rainfall in the region these last few days furrowed the tracks and exposed big rocks. Moreover, with this the heat it is physically demanding to maintain a high pace in these conditions… So I am quite happy with my performance today. At the beginning I saw Marc surge ahead and I knew he would claw some time back, but I focused on the navigation to avoid making any mistakes, slowing down a bit before every note. Since we had almost 400 notes today, I will be quite happy if I only lose two minutes.”
Marc Coma (ESP – KTM) 1st, 2nd OA “It was a very tough special, in particular at the beginning with the fast start. Then, we had to focus on the navigation and tackle water, a lot of it, in the ríos. I tried to drive at a very high pace from the beginning, but it was difficult. I was able to overtake a few pilots and gain some time on Cyril. Fiambala and many other stages still lie ahead. That is the way things are right now. And I keep on fighting every day.”
Francisco López (CHL – Aprilia) 9th, 4th OA “It was important to complete this stage avoiding any kind of problem. It was physically demanding, and after it I feel quite fine. Tomorrow it is announced as a difficult stage, and then, we will finally arrive to Chile.”
Alain Duclos: (FRA – Aprilia) 7th, 15th “I started mad because of the time penalty of yesterday, but now I´m glad with the come out of this stage. It was tiring and slow, but I was able to complete it with many other riders. I found the right feeling with suspensions of my Aprilia, which is behaving quite well.”
2012 Dakar Rally Stage 4 Results:
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 4:16:43
2. Cyril Despres, FRA (KTM) 4:18:45
3. Frans Verhoeven, NLD (Sherco) 4:25:09
4. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Yamaha) 4:25:44
5. Paulo Gonclaves, PRT (Husqvarna) 4:28:01
6. Joan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (KTM) 4:28:03
7. Alain Duclos, FRA (Aprilia) 4:30:03
8. Svitko, SVK (KTM) 4:30:25
9. Francisco Lopez, CHL (Aprilia) 4:30:58
10. David Casteu, FRA (Yamaha) 4:32:06
2012 Dakar Rally Overall Standings:
1. Despres, (FRA) KTM 11:50:27
2. Coma, (ESP) KTM 11:58:37
3. Rodrigues, (PRT) Yamaha 12:17:15
4. Lopez, (CHL) Aprilia 12:20:17
5. Casteu, (FRA) Yamaha 12:21:04
6. Goncalves, (PRT) Husqvarna 12:25:43
7. Verhoeven, (NLD) Sherco 12:28:43
8. Pedrero Garcia, (ESP) KTM 12:28:46
9. Viladoms, (ESP) KTM 12:34:27
10. Farres Guell (ESP) KTM 12:34:51