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Dakar 2007: Stagereport from the Gauloises KTM Riders.

Yesterday Jordi Viladoms took his first Dakar stage win today, finishing ahead of his team mate Marc Coma and the American Chris Blais. Isidre Esteve (Gauloises KTM) was fourth with Frans Verhoeven (Gauloises KTM) fifth, David Casteu (Gauloises KTM) eighth and Cyril Despres (Gauloises KTM) 11th after the breaking his gearbox towards the end of the special. Overall Coma extends his lead over Esteve to 12’07 with Casteu still third (at 44’39). Despres drops down to fifth (at 57’18) with Verhoeven still seventh (at 1.11’45).

Isidre Esteve (Gauloises KTM) 4th (at 3’08) 2nd overall (at 12’07): "It was a very long stage today and not too much fun. The liaison was cold, wet and very windy with bad visibility and when we finally got to the border before the start of the special we had to work on the brakes as the mud had ‘eaten’ the brake pads. The special was not very complicated but extremely fast and after about 100 km I came up behind Marc. There were a few little dune crossings but nowhere you could break away and Marc and I finished the special together."

Frans Verhoeven (Gauloises KTM) 5th (at 3’29) 7th overall (at 1.11’45): "Not so bad for an old guy! I was the only one who had any rain clothing this morning so I gave it to Cyril and by the time I arrived at the border I was pretty wet through. There I gave David Casteu a hand after his fall and before helping Cyril. He didn’t have any ‘meat’ left on his brake pads and so I gave him mine. Despite all that I felt good on the bike and attacked right from the start. I overtook Gio Sala just after refuelling and then came up on David Casteu and Faria in the camel grass. I had a fall jumping off a dune but apart from that no problems - David, Gio and I went really quick over the last bit and finished together. It was a lot of fun."

David Casteu (Gauloises KTM) 8th (at 7’55) 3rd overall (at 44’39): "There was a lot of mud this morning. I was riding behind David Fretigne on the liaison, my front wheel hit a rut and down I went. My shoulder hurts a little bit now and I’ll be sure to get a massage this evening. Because of my crash I didn’t start the special very well. Then Frans (Verhoeven) and Gio (Sala) came past me going very fast so I tucked in behind them we rode together to the finish line."

Cyril Despres (Gauloiese KTM) 11th (at 10’42) 5th overall (at 57’18): "Once again I was on target to win the special and then at about 27 km from the end the gearbox went and I finished in first gear. It cost me quite a lot of time as it was very fast over the last part. Obviously I am disappointed but remain motivated - anything can happen on this race. It seems unfair both to me and KTM. They have done a super job with the new bike and all through development we have had very few problems."

2007/01/12 | 14:18 CET | Editor: MR/Gauloises

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