Red Bull Factory KTM’s Marc Coma made up significant ground in Stage 5 of the 2014 Dakar Rally, earning his first stage win of the competition and jumping to the top-spot overall. He crossed the finish line over 12 minutes ahead of his closest competition, teammate Jordi Villadoms. Jakub Przygonski, also aboard a KTM, finished the stage in third-place. Coma now sits over 40 minutes ahead of former overall leader, Joan Barreda of Team HRC. Coma’s teammate, Chaleco Lopez, is third in the general rankings an additional 12 minutes behind Barreda.
"I opened 90% of the stage today," said Coma. "Everything was running well but it was soft sand and very technical and when you’re on the camel grass it is tough. At the end of the last part it was very difficult to find the finish line. I got to another river and had to cut back to find the correct one. But in the end it was good.”
Stage 5 was originally planned to feature two special timed portions separated by a connection, but due to safety concerns the second section was cancelled. Riders still had 131 miles of timed special to tackle however, and off the start Samsung Sherco Rally Team’s Juan Pedrero Garcia led the way. Garcia slipped back in the rankings during the opening miles and Barreda’s teammate, Paulo Goncalves, took over the front for a period. Soon after the first time check Goncalves’ luck ran out and he was forced to stop and pull out of competition because his bike had caught fire. According to Team HRC, dry scrub brush got lodged between Goncalves' engine and exhaust and ignited. Luckily the Honda rider was able to dismount in time to avoid injury.
Barreda, Garcia, Lopez, Przygonski, Garcia’s teammate Alain Duclos and a handful of others fell victim to navigation errors late in the stage. Barreda’s teammate, Javier Pizzolito, also ran off track near the end of the stage. Barreda crossed the line 17th for Stage 5 while Lopez ended further back in 27th. Duclos fared better, finishing in 11th as did Garcia, who took seventh.
Trouble continued for Yamaha Factory’s Cyril Despres with an overheated engine and navigation errors. He crossed the line 18th in the stage, over 44 minutes behind the leader. The French rider now has a deficit of more than one hour in the overall rankings.
Team HRC’s Helder Rodrigues earned his best result of the current Dakar, finishing the stage in fourth-place. KTM’s Riaan Van Niekerk also achieved his best stage finish so far in fifth.
In addition to the new overall leader, the general rankings through Stage 5 shuffled with Villadoms moving from ninth up to fourth and Duclos slipping down to fifth. Despres continues to lose ground, now in eighth, while Przygonski has improved from 10th to seventh.
American riders in the motorcycle class are few and far between in this year’s Dakar, and the highest ranking rider from the USA in Stage 5 was Mike Johnson in 55th. In four-wheeled competition, American duo Robby Gordon and Kellon Walch made the car podium for Stage 5, finishing third, and they now sit 17th overall.
Dakar Rally 2014 Stage 5: Chilecito – Tucuman Results
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 3:02:08
2. Jordi Villadoms, ESP (KTM) 3:15:02
3. Jakub Przygonski, POL (KTM) 3:24:53
4. Helder Rodrigues, ESP (Honda) 3:28:01
5. Riaan Van Niekerk, ZAF (KTM) 3:34:12
6. Juan Carlos Salvatierra, BOL (Speedbrain) 3:35:20
7. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (Sherco) 3:36:11
8. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 3:38:46
9. Robert Van Pelt, NLD (Honda) 3:39:12
10. Daniel Gouet, CHL (Honda) 3:40:01
Dakar Rally 2014 Overall Standings after Stage 5
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 18:45:11
2. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 19:26:21
3. Chaleco Lopez, CHL (KTM) 19:38:52
4. Jordi Villadoms, ESP (KTM) 19:44:09
5. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco) 19:47:24
6. Oliver Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 19:57:33
7. Jakub Przygonski, POL (KTM) 19:59:38
8. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 20:08:12
9. Jeremias Israel Esquerre, CHL (Speedbrain) 20:08:41
10. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 20:15:24