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Dakar 2009: Coma Leads; another stage to Despres.

KTM factory riders Marc Coma (Spain) and Cyril Despres (France) continued on Sunday to show why they are the world best rally riders with Despres winning Stage Eight of the Dakar 2009 in front of Coma who continues to retain a commanding lead. In fighting form after the rest day, the stage victory went to Despres (Red Bull KTM) 1'49 ahead of Coma (Repsol KTM) with local hero Francisco Lopez (KTM) third (at 2'56).

David Frétigné, Jonah Street and Ullevalseter all ran into problems allowing Cyril to move up two places to third overall. He is now less than 30 minutes from second-placed Frétigné in the overall standings. Coma continues to maintain an impressive lead of 1h06'28 over Frétigné. He also has a 1h33'34 over Cyril. Alain Duclos (Kaestle KTM) had his best day of the rally so far, finishing fourth (at 12'39) with Jordi Viladoms fifth (at 13'12).

Cyril Despres: "The man who makes the modification to the road book, Jean-Pierre Fontenay said in his notes that today was more rally and than rally-raid and he wasn't joking, we must have taken 2000 corners. We were riding on something like a smooth white laterite piste and there wasn't much grip. I tried to stay standing up the whole time, shifting my weight back when braking and then moving it to the middle when accelerating. At refuelling I saw that I had come back on Marc and Lopez and that Fretigne and Street were losing time. Then just after the CP1 we had a tricky bit of off-piste. Towards the end Francisco really attacked and that suit me fine as I wanted to put as much time between me and the guys behind me. Moving up to third has really given me a boost."

Marc Coma: "It was technical today like an Enduro, there wasn't much grip and it was difficult to maintain a good pace without out-braking yourself. Although it was challenging it was fun to ride. As was predicted I caught up Lopez and Cyril caught me and we crossed the line pretty much together."

Alain Duclos: "That was more like it. I liked the terrain today, my back felt better after the rest day and I was able to ride like normal. It looks like we are coming to a few difficult days so it is good that I will be starting close to Cyril and be there to help him if he should need me."

Jordi Viladoms: "There was so little grip that I was worried about spinning the tyre too much and overheating the mousse so I made sure I accelerated as gently as possible out of the corners and tried to pull as high a gear as possible. At refuelling I saw that in fact the mousse was doing ok and so after that I was able to pick up the pace a little."

Riders on Monday tackle a special of 449 km over a total distance of 537 KM that takes them from La Serena to Copiapo during which they will encounter the notorious Atacama Desert, said to be the world's driest. This combination of dunes and rocks will be a test of the best during which it will be required for even the leaders to exercise their skills and conserve their energy to tackle long stretches of dunes at the conclusion of the ride.

Provisional results after eighth stage

01. Cyril Despres, France, KTM
02. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM
03. Francisco Lopez, Chile, KTM
04. Alain Duclos, France, KTM
05. Jordi Viladoms, Spain, KTM
06. David Fretigne, France, Yamaha
07. Gerard Farres Guell, Spain, KTM
08. David Casteu, France, KTM
09. Juan Pedrero Garcia, Spain, KTM
10. Pal Anders Ullevalseter, Norway, KTM

Provisional overall standings after Stage Eight

01. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM
02. David Fretigne, France, Yamaha
03. Cyril Despres, France, KTM
04. Jonah Street, USA, KTM
05. Pal Anders Ullevalseter, Norway, KTM
06. Jordi Viladoms, Spain, KTM
07. Francisco Lopez, Chile, KTM
08. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, KTM
09. David Casteu, France, KTM
10. Frans Verhofen, Netherlands, KTM

2009/01/11 | 22:39 CET | Editor: MR/HS/KTM

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