Team HRC’s Joan Barreda notched his third stage win of the 2014 Dakar Rally in Stage 7, a high altitude test that took riders into Bolivia for the first time in the history of the competition. Current overall leader Marc Coma of Red Bull Factory KTM posted the second-fastest time, followed by defending Dakar champion Cyril Despres of Factory Yamaha in third.
The trek from Salta to Uyuni was delayed due to low, dense clouds that kept the safety helicopters grounded. The day’s stage was then shortened, with riders taking off 64 miles into the originally planned course. Samsung Sherco Rally Factory’s Alain Duclos led the way off the start after his victory in Stage 6, but a few miles in the French rider made a navigation error and ceded the lead to Speedbrain’s Jeremias Israel Esquerre. Factory Yamaha’s Cyril Despres, Barreda’s teammate Helder Rodrigues and Coma held steady in the lead pack as well.
Esquerre slipped back in the ranks as the day wore on while Barreda pushed forward. The Honda rider led the way at the end of the first portion of the special section, which was separated by a few miles of connection to the final portion. Barreda, Coma and Despres held steady at the top through the final miles of the stage.
"For sure I´m very happy about my result," said Barreda. "Anyway it was very hard to stay focused. The high altitude made me feel a bit dizzy. Especially when the going got tough in the water and mud of the river."
Duclos’ teammate, Juan Pedrero Garcia, crossed the line fourth-fastest followed by KTM’s Jakub Przygonski in fifth. Esquerre finished in sixth less than one minute ahead of Rodrigues in seventh. Mario Patrao placed his Suzuki inside the top-10 for the first time in the current Dakar, finishing eighth.
Coma maintains his overall lead through Stage 7. Barreda was able to shave some minutes off his deficit, but still sits over 38 minutes behind Coma in second-place. Viladoms moves to third overall while Duclos loses one position, dropping to fourth. Esquerre rounds out the top-five.
Dakar Rally 2014 Stage 7: Salta – Uyuni Results
1. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 3:28:41
2. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 3:32:44
3. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 3:34:16
4. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (Sherco) 3:35:38
5. Jakub Przygonski, POL (KTM) 3:37:37
6. Jeremias Israel Esquerre, CHL (Speedbrain) 3:38:45
7. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Honda) 3:39:38
8. Mario Patrao, PRT (Suzuki) 3:40:08
9. Oliver Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 3:40:18
10. Jordi Villadoms, ESP (KTM) 3:40:38
Dakar Rally 2014 Overall Standings after Stage 7
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 26:40:44
2. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 27:18:58
3. Jordi Villadoms, ESP (KTM) 27:56:47
4. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco) 27:57:19
5. Jeremias Israel Esquerre, CHL (Speedbrain) 28:20:13
6. Oliver Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 28:31:26
7. Jakub Przygonski, POL (KTM) 28:35:36
8. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Honda) 28:49:02
9. David Casteu, FRA (KTM) 29:04:34
10. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 29:06:57