Jordi Viladoms picked up his first stage win in the longest track of the rally.
Jordi Viladoms, the Spaniard who cracked the top-5 for the first time yesterday has won Stage 6, the longest of the competition, by nearly a minute over his Repsol KTM teammate and current overall leader, Marc Coma. Viladoms paced Gauloises KTM's Cyril Despres early in the 394 km special section, all of which came after a 414 km liaison. Once Despres left the course for an alternate route he hoped would prove faster, Viladoms carried forward to the eventual win with a time of 3:45'45. Meanwhile, the benefits of Despres' secret route reversed into a 10'42 deficit which dropped him outside the top-10 for the third time since the rally started on Jan 6.
Red Bull KTM's Chris Blais tallied a third, only narrowly missing the runner-up spot. Three seconds behind Coma and an even minute behind the leader shows that America's best hope is right on the pace. Isidre Esteve Pujol retains his second-place standing in the overall but lost a little over two minutes on Coma as he finished Stage 6 in fourth. Behind him was Holland's Frans Verhoeven who nailed down his best finish to date with a fifth.
Jordi Viladoms (Repsol KTM) - Winner, 6th OA
It's my first ever stage victory. I'm really very happy and surprised also. I knew I was riding well because I caught up with Cyril Despres. However, I didn't catch up with Marc (Coma) and Isidre (Esteve), so until the finishing line I wasn't aware of it. I didn't expect to win a stage that quickly. Of course, it's what you aim to do, but for this Dakar, my objective is to help out Marc first and foremost. This result shows that we are a capable team and that the effort put in throughout the year is well worth it. I've only done one Dakar, last year, and I still have a lot to learn, but it's good start.
Marc Coma (Repsol KTM) - 2nd, 1st OA
I'm very happy for Jordi (Viladoms) and not surprised by his victory today. He's an improving rider and his time will come. We work hard in this team and we can see that it pays off. Since the start, we've been with the pace and so are the bikes' conditions. We're riding our own race and not bothering about anyone else.
Chris Blais (Red Bull KTM) - 3rd, 4th OA
American Chris Blais just tallied a podium finish and is three minutes behind David Casteu for the third overall position.
All the team was quick. We arrived at CP1 in under an hour. On the special, I reached a top speed of 168 km/h. Apart from at the supply point, I didn't see anyone at all today, I was all alone. I prefer it like that. If no-one catches up with me, that means I'm riding well. There were times when I felt really small in the middle of this immense desert. I'm happy with my day. I felt that I was very fast.
Isidre Esteve (Gauloises KTM) - 4th, 2nd OA
The important thing is that the race is still open. I'm very happy that the Spanish are having a great Dakar as well. As far as I'm concerned, I thought it was necessary to carry on racing calmly. I've been trying since the beginning to ride without taking too many risks. That can be decisive for the bike before the last part of the rally where everything will be up for grabs. The minutes I lost won't do any harm. I just need to keep concentrating. Today, it was important just to handle the route well. However, tomorrow will be one of the crucial stages for the final result.
Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) - 11th, 5th OA
I'm really disappointed with today. I was really unlucky again. I've taken part in the Dakar seven times without a mechanical hitch and this time they're building up. It's the second time in three days that I've had gear-box problems. This time, I spent the last forty kilometers in first gear. I tried to find an alternative route because there was a row of dunes to cross. When I saw the helicopter above me, I thought I had made the right choice, but in fact it wasn't. But I don't have any regrets, I was right to try. In my position, I shouldn't just be waiting around. I need to do something other than following the others' tracks.
Stage 6 Results:
Today was marked by a fast-paced 817 km ride. Competitors only have one day left before getting a day of rest at Atar.
1. Viladoms, KTM
2. Coma, KTM
3. Blais, KTM
4. Esteve Pujol, KTM
5. Verhoeven, KTM
6. Sala, KTM
7. Rodrigues, Yam
8. Casteu, KTM
9. Ullevalseter, KTM
10. Fretigne, Yam
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