Cyril Despres took over the lead after coming in as the fastest rider through Stage 2 of the 2012 Rally of Morocco.
Stage 2 of the Rally of Morocco was the longest stage of the six day event with 195 miles of timed special tests. KTM’s Cyril Despres claimed the top spot for the day and moved to the head of the pack in overall standings. He was followed by KTM teammate Marc Coma, who lagged by just under two minutes, and Team HRC’s Helder Rodrigues who rounded out the top-three. Overall, just 37 seconds separates Despres and Coma in the one and two spots while Rodrigues remains in the battle for first as well, just 51 seconds off the lead pace.
Rodrigues opened the day in front after posting the fastest time through Stage 1, but the KTM riders were right behind and about 62 miles into the competition the three had joined in a group and rode through to the finish together. Stage 2 took riders through plenty of sand as they crossed the dunes of Erg Chebbi, but was also marked by fast sections early on and navigation challenges throughout. Since the three front-runners joined up and rode together for most of the stage, it was difficult for any one rider to build a significant gap in the overall tally.
“It was a very complete stage, the longest of the rally,” said Coma. “There were dunes, a lot of navigation and also very fast sections. I rode out in front with Cyril Despres and Helder Rodrigues almost to the end. On days like today, in which you join up with other riders, it is difficult to make a difference, so overall it was a good day.”
Joan Barreda fights back after a small mistake caused him to lose a few positions. He finished Stage 2 in fourth.
Husqvarna rider Joan Barreda finished the stage in fourth and remains fourth in overall time, over 11 minutes behind Despres. Barreda made a mistake in the opening miles and dropped back a number of places, but he was able to regain position by the end of the stage and finish just 15 seconds behind Rodrigues.
“I got off to a swift start to try and make up some time, but I made a mistake nine kilometers into the race,” said Barreda. “I lost a lot of time trying to find the right route. Nevertheless, I’m happy with the way I pulled back close to the first three. The bike is going really well and there is still a long way to go in the rally.”
Yamaha rider David Casteu of France finished the day in fifth followed by Chilean KTM rider Chaleco Lopez in sixth. Barrreda’s teammate Paolo Goncalves remains fifth in overall standings after taking seventh in Stage 2. The Portuguese rider maintained a steady pace early on, but after refueling lost the route and spent precious minutes looking to get back on track.
“Today was a really tough day with such a lot of navigating to do,” said Goncalves. “I raced well until the refueling, then I started to lose time looking for the right route. But anyway, I’m happy with the way the race has gone up until now. The bike’s great and I think that it’s good preparation for the Dakar.”
Stage 3 has 180 miles of timed special tests, taking riders from Erfoud southwest to Zagora.
2012 Rally of Morocco Stage 2 Results:
1. Cyril Despres (KTM) 3:34.14
2. Marc Coma (KTM) +1.45
3. Helder Rodrigues (Honda) +3.11
4. Joan Barreda (Husqvarna) +3.26
5. David Casteu (Yamaha) +6.02
6. Chaleco Lopez (KTM) +7.12
2012 Rally of Morocco Overall Standings:
1. Cyril Despres (KTM) 6:36.24
2. Marc Coma (KTM) +0.37
3. Helder Rodrigues (Honda) +0.51
4. Joan Barreda (Husqvarna) +11.47
5. Paolo Goncalves (Husqvarna) +18.29
6. Chaleco Lopez (KTM) +24.39