The day’s journey, 262 miles from Calama to Iquique, took riders out of the Andes down to the Pacific Ocean. Despres maintained the early lead after opening the road but Barreda pushed ahead after the 50 mile mark. Behind the Honda rider, positions shuffled with Coma and Despres facing challenges from KTM’s Stefan Svitko and Garcia’s teammate, Alain Duclos. Coma and Despres forged ahead and took firm hold of the number two and three positions before the first checkpoint though, with Duclos trailing in fourth. Speedbrain’s Jeremias Israel Esquerre settled into fifth while Barreda’s teammate Helder Rodrigues and Garcia paced in sixth and seventh, respectively.
Positions switched out front once riders reached CP1, with Coma assuming the lead ahead of Barreda while Despres held close in third. Duclos dropped well behind soon after CP1 with technical issues while Rodrigues pushed up to fourth. Rodrigues slipped back during the final miles of the stage though as Garcia and Svitko moved up the timesheet. Coma completed the course nearly two minutes ahead of Barreda and Despres crossed the line over five minutes after the leader.
“I’m very relieved to have made it all the way to the end,” said Despres. “At the refueling at kilometer 201 I noticed I had a fuel leak from the one of the rear tanks, and that petrol was dripping on to the exhaust pipe! I tried to drain as much of the fuel out of there into the other tanks as possible and then set off hoping for the best. As I crossed the line the bike started to cut out from lack of petrol! I also had a pretty big crash in the fesh fesh around kilometer 250. It’s a pity, because up until the refueling I was concentrating hard on the navigation and making good progress. Overall I made up some more ground today on those just in front of me and as before will keep attacking to see what can be achieved before the final finish line.”
It proved to be an especially difficult day for Duclos, who was unable to repair his motorcycle during the stage. His teammate, Francisco Errazuriz, had to tow the French rider to the bivouac. Despres’ teammate, Oliver Pain, also struggled during the day.
“Early on I noticed the bike cutting out when I hit something hard and so deduced I had loose electrical connection somewhere,” explained Pain. “We have a back-up solution where we can bypass everything except what is essential to make the engine run and it was while I was looking to switch to that system that I noticed that one of the wires to the CDI was not connected properly. Unfortunately while I was sorting that out a couple of riders past me and I was then stuck in their dust for about 180 kilometers until the refueling. By that time I was riding at a false rhythm and that and getting stuck a couple of times in the dunes cost me more time.”
Laia Sanz, one of the few female riders in the motorcycle category, made her first appearance in the top-10 during the current rally, finishing Stage 9 in seventh-place.
Dakar Rally 2014 Stage 9: Calama – Iquique
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 4:48:48
2. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 4:54:33
3. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (Sherco) 4:57:48
4. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 4:58:47
5. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Honda) 5:00:49
6. Ivan Jakes, SVK (KTM) 5:02:45
7. Laia Sanz, ESP (Honda) 5:03:39
8. Jeremias Israel Esquerre, CHL (Speedbrain) 5:04:06
9. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 5:05:46
10. Oliver Pain, FRA (Yamaha)
Dakar Rally 2014 Overall Standings after Stage 9
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 36:55:07
2. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 37:50:43
3. Jordi Viladoms, ESP (KTM) 38:49:09
4. Jeremias Israel Esquerre, CHL (Speedbrain) 39:02:30
5. Oliver Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 39:11:34
6. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Honda) 39:19:49
7. Jakub Przygonski, POL (KTM) 39:20:40
8. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 39:25:20
9. David Gouet, CHL (Honda) 39:53:06
10. David Casteu, FRA (KTM) 40:18:30