Stage 2 of the 2014 Dakar Rally takes riders from San Luis to San Rafael with 223 miles of special stage. Motorcycle competitors face soil/rock terrain starting out and then face a climb to over 6500 feet above sea level followed by a descent into the first dune section of the Rally in the grey sand of Nihuil.
Team HRC’s Sam Sunderland claimed the Stage 2 victory, the first Dakar stage win of his career. KTM’s Chaleco Lopez ended the day second, 39 seconds off Sunderland’s time. HRC Honda's Joan Barreda placed third, maintaining the overall lead.
"I’m really happy," said Sunderland. "The bike was fantastic, it’s been a great day with a mixture of different terrains, speed and technical zones. We got to the dunes which I get on really well with. It wasn’t a really long stretch, but it went well. I crossed the river which was deeper than I had expected, which got a few laughs out of the folk. But I’m really pleased for my first Dakar victory and to continue Honda’s winning streak."
Barreda started the day in first position after his Stage 1 win, followed by Red Bull KTM Factory’s Marc Coma and Factory Yamaha’s Cyril Despres. The number one and two positions remained the same through the first checkpoint, though Despres lost some ground as Lopez made up time to assume third on the timesheet by CP1.
Difficulty for many riders began late in the stage once they reached the sand. Speedbrain’s Alessandro Botturi signaled he was immobile at the start of the dune section, in addition to sitting too far north of the course. Team HRC’s Javier Pizzolito also stopped moving in the dune section as did KTM rider Ben Grabham. Coma and Despres also lost ground during the day, and by the end both riders had fallen outside the top-four. Despres had an off which cost him valuable minutes while Coma was forced to deal with a technical issue thanks to a stuck rock.
"Today was not a perfect day," said Coma. "We had some small problems when I got a stone wedged between the gearbox and the gear lever. I had to stop to take it out. The bike was working okay but it cost me some minutes - but it is still a long race.”
"I arrived a little too quickly on a note in the road book at around kilometer 250 and went over the handlebars," explained Despres. "Fortunately it was a soft landing so the bike wasn’t damaged but it took me a while to dust myself down and get going again and inevitably I lost time. Overall a day to forget."
Coma’s teammate, Ruben Faria, ended the stage in fourth followed by Samsung Sherco Rally Factory’s Alain Duclos in fifth. Grabham was able to overcome his late stage difficulties to end sixth-fastest followed by KTM’s David Casteu in seventh. Sunderland’s teammate, Paulo Goncalves, finished eighth with Coma and Despres trailing in ninth and 10th respectively.
Barreda remains the overall leader though Stage 2 and Lopez has moved from sixth to second overall. Sunderland is third followed by Duclos in fourth. Coma now sits seven minutes off the leader in fifth. Despres is almost eight-and-a-half minutes behind the leader in eighth-place overall.
Dakar Rally 2014 Stage 2: San Luis to San Rafael Results
1. Sam Sunderland, GBR (Honda) 3:42:10
2. Chaleco Lopez, CHL (KTM) 3:42:49
3. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 3:44:10
4. Ruben Faria, PRT (KTM) 3:46:17
5. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco) 3:48:01
6. Ben Grabham, AUS (KTM) 3:49:25
7. David Casteu, FRA (KTM) 3:49:37
8. Paulo Goncalves, PRT (Honda) 3:49:55
9. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 3:50:33
10. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 3:50:53
2014 Dakar Rally Overall Standings after Stage 2
1. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 6:09:41
2. Chaleco Lopez, CHL (KTM) 6:11:44
3. Sam Sunderland, GBR (Honda) 6:12:14
4. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco) 6:15:28
5. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 6:16:41
6. Ruben Faria, PRT (KTM) 6:16:59
7. Paulo Goncalves, PRT (Honda) 6:17:51
8. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 6:18:04
9. Ben Grabham, AUS (KTM) 6:19:46
10. David Casteu, FRA (KTM) 6:20:40