“It is true that we did not have the same extreme conditions of the previous days,” said Coma. “This allowed us to tackle the stage in a less demanding way. But in any case, it was still a special 400 km with some navigation and 15 km of extreme enduro, which complicated things quite a lot.”
At the end of Stage 5 Metge’s teammate and defending Dakar champion, Cyril Despres, was hit with an hour penalty for missing WP17. As a result of the penalty his initial ranking in the overall standings after Stage 5 changed from eighth to 13th. He’s now more than two hours behind the leader. KTM rider Stephan Svitko and Metge were also hit with hour penalties following the stage as well.
“It was very hot in the special and the sand was soft,” explained Despres. “Because of that I was paying particular attention to engine temperature and even more so when I noticed I was consuming fuel at an alarming rate. I was on my way to get the famous WP17 but had to turn back when I realized I wouldn’t have enough fuel to make it to the end. I was right on the limit of running out when I came across a quad rider who kindly gave me a liter and a half. In all, my various problems cost me 44 minutes, to which will be added the one hour penalty”
Once Stage 6 got underway, Coma set the pace with a blistering start leading Duclos and Barreda’s teammate, Helder Rodrigues, across the opening miles. The KTM ace retained the stage lead for nearly two hours, but couldn’t shake Duclos and the Sherco rider overtook Coma 72 miles into the 248-mile special stage.
While Duclos attempted to open up a gap on Coma, Barreda and Duclos’ teammate, Juan Pedrero Garcia, worked their way into the lead pack. Coma’s teammate, Chaleco Lopez, was also in the mix but mid-way through the special the Chilean rider went down hard. He sustained an injured wrist and hip and was treated at the bivouac medical center, took a DNF for the stage and was forced to pull out of this year’s Dakar. Garcia, too, ran into trouble later in the day thanks to electrical problems.
Duclos led the way after the end of the first section of Stage 6, which was followed by 38 miles of connection before the start of the final section. The Sherco rider dominated the final portion of the day’s race, holding the lead to the finish line. Metge, Coma and Barreda battled for top-three honors in the stage while Despres made up significant ground to move inside the top-five for the day. At the end it was Barreda in fourth and Despres in fifth, followed by Rodrigues in sixth and Svitko in seventh.
Coma’s teammate, Jordi Villadoms, remains fourth overall while Speedbrain’s Jeremias Israel Esquerre moves to fifth. Despres’ teammate, Oliver Pain, is sixth followed by KTM’s Jakub Przygonski in seventh.
Sadly, a sweep truck covering the Stage 5 route early in the morning discovered the body of amateur Belgian rider Eric Palante. There’s no word yet on the details of Palante’s passing, but organizers say no emergency alert was received and that he had replenished his water in the afternoon. This was Palante’s 11th Dakar.
Dakar Rally 2014 Stage 6: Tucuman – Salta Results
1. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco) 4:21:34
2. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 4:22:49
3. Michael Metge, FRA (Yamaha) 4:23:23
4. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 4:23:56
5. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 4:24:29
6. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Honda) 4:25:55
7. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 4:29:20
8. Jakub Przygonski, POL (KTM) 4:29:46
9. Jordi Villadoms, ESP (KTM) 4:32:00
10. Jeremias Israel Esquerre, CHL (Speedbrain) 4:32:47
Dakar Rally 2014 Overall Results after Stage 6
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 23:08:00
2. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 23:50:17
3. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco) 24:08:58
4. Jordi Villadoms, ESP (KTM) 24:16:09
5. Jeremias Israel Esquerre, CHL (Speedbrain) 24:41:28
6. Oliver Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 24:51:08
7. Jakub Przygonski, POL (KTM) 24:57:59
8. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Honda) 25:09:24
9. David Casteu, FRA (KTM) 25:20:05
10. Daniel Gouet, CHL (Honda) 25:25:26