|Dakar 2010: Francisco "Chaleco" Lopez flies on the Dunes.|
The last part of the Atacama Desert was the scenery of the Dakar´s ninth stage, which was shortened to 172 km from the 238 planned and the departure was delayed to 11am due to the morning fog. The timed section had a spectacular start, with riders lined up by 10 at first and then, by groups of 20. Then, road connections to La Serena, a seaside city in the Pacific coast were the bivouac is located.
Despite of the reduced length of the stage in the dunes, it wasn´t simple at all. Many riders encountered navigation difficulties because of the traces from previous days.
Certainly not Francisco Lopez that paid attention not to consume too much fuel, took the right pace and finished 3rd, behind Coma and Despres. Just over a minute from the Marc Coma, Chaleco offered an excellent performance on his Aprilia, nearby the 690cc opponents.
Overall standings almost stay the same: Lopez has recovered only a few seconds on Pal Anders Ullevalseter and is always 3rd, less than four minutes from the Norwegian. But especially, his strategy was met: start tomorrow´s stage is announced to be dusty and he wants to start with the firsts.
Alex Zanotti has spent another day clenching his teeth. In sandy roads and dunes is not easy to steer with a shoulder and wrist wounded, but he scored 23rd time and occupies the 21st position in the general ranking.
Paolo Ceci was instead hit by a fuel pump problem, which wasn´t working well in the sand. Ceci had to stop to replace it and finished the stage 54, losing two places in the overall, he is now 15th.
Francisco Lopez: "It was a beautiful stage, not difficult but the start, with riders lined up, was spectacular. I initially found a little dust and I did not want to go full gas to avoid consuming excessively. Then I increased the pace and reached the third time. This is great since we are the first 450cc, with a minimum distance between the 690cc of Coma and Despres. The best thing is to start with the first riders tomorrow, because it will be a very dusty stage, and it will be perfect to begin behind Marc and Cyril."
Alex Zanotti: "It wasn´t an easy stage, especially navigation speaking. At one point I stopped because there were bikes everywhere, I thought for a moment and I took the right direction. It wasn't easy; however, my body aches everywhere. But also, this is done, and Buenos Aires is getting closer."
2010/01/12 | 11:40 CET | Editor: MR/HS/E.Bauer