|SA-Dakar: Marc Coma takes third Stage victory in Stage 8; Despres 2nd.|
KTM factory rider Marc Coma of Spain on Monday succeeded in taking his third stage victory in the Dakar and the 14th of his career. Coma has now accrued a 9 minute 19 advantage on Despres, the current title holder.
The day's ride, a punishing 508 km special was again a cat and mouse game between the Spanish rider and fellow KTM factory rider Cyril Despres with the two arriving at the finish separated by just 1 minute 55 seconds
Coma and Despres have now won five of the eight stages between them and continue to be only minutes apart as the rally moves into its second half. The difference between them amounts to roughly the equivalent of the 10 minute penalty Despres incurred in the early stages for failing to pass a mandatory flag during one dawn start. All evidence points to a battle between these great riders right through to the finish.
Marc Coma said it had been a hard stage that turned out fine at the end of the day. He rode together with Despres and "Chaleco" Lopez. "We took turns to open the way and at a very fast pace. It was a good stage after a complicated one yesterday. But in the end, everything turned out fine. I'm glad, because it was a 500-km special. That's a hell of a lot".
Despres did manage to briefly break away after the first 40 km on Monday but Coma quickly came back to hit the front and remained there for the rest of the day.
While Coma and Despres incrementally edge their way in front of the rest of the pack and are looking more likely to be the ones who will be in front in Buenos Aires, their biggest rival remains Francisco (Chaleco) Lopes, the Chilean rider who is very much at home in the Atacama Desert.
He now trails Coma by 22.48 minutes overall while fourth overall after Stage Eight is Portugal's Helder Rodrigues who is now almost 42 minutes behind Coma.
Despres said Chaleco led the way on all the quick parts while he did the dunes. "The problem with navigation is the same as in cycling," he said. "In cycling some riders stick to your back wheel like leeches and it's the same in rally raids - but that's just part of the game".
Pal Anders Ullevalseter of Norway, who was second behind Despres in the 2010 edition of the rally, had his best finish in this edition, finishing fifth in Stage Eight.
He was followed home today by Despres' team co-rider, Ruben Faria who finished sixth and is currently fifth overall. Juan Pedrero, Coma's Spanish co-rider was eighth today and is seventh overall. After Stage eight five of the top seven riders are on KTMs and 10 of the top 14 are riding the Austrian brand.
2011/01/11 | 11:55 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/KTM