UPDATE: Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th December. Closed. Unfortunately torrential rain has now made the tracks too wet.

Stage 9 : Coma hammers It Home

Dakar 2014

maddix park mx

On a 9th stage dominated by the sand, Marc Coma made his mark and reinforced his lead in the general standings whilst picking up his 23rd special stage victory on the Dakar, his second in 2014, 1'21 ahead of his now sole rival, Joan Barreda, and 5'28 in front of Frenchman Cyril Despres. In the car category, all-out attack brought an excellent result for Stéphane Peterhansel who picked up his 3rd victory in 2014, but more importantly closed to within 12'10'' of general standings leader, Nani Roma.

Click here for the car/bike summary of stage 9.

Announced as one of the key stages on this 36th edition, the 422-km long 9th special stage between Calama and Iquique especially allowed Marc Coma to gain even more psychological superiority over the rest of the field. The third to start this morning, behind Barreda and Despres, the Catalan three times winner soon caught up with his adversaries to ride the stage in their company, demonstrating his control of the race. In the end, Coma won his second stage in 2014 and his 23rd on the Dakar, 1'21'' ahead of his countryman and second placed rider in the general standings, Joan Barreda, and 5'28'' in front of Cyril Despres, the title holder, who was slowed at the end of the special stage by the fear of running out of petrol in the dunes, forced to keep an eye on his consumption.

Behind the top 3, the day was again marked by the problems of Alain Duclos, this time betrayed by a valve on his Sherco and obliged to be towed to the bivouac behind his team-mate Francisco Errazuriz. The Franco-Malian therefore loses all hopes of a good result in the general standings, the summit of which is still just as serenely occupied by Marc Coma, who increases his lead over Joan Barreda to 40'19''. The icing on the cake for the Catalan is that the misfortunes of Duclos allow his water carrier Jordi Viladoms, sixth today, to enjoy a little more breathing space in third position in the general standings with a lead of 28'21'' over the consistently regular Chilean Jeremias Israel Esquerre. Engaged in a frantic climb up the general standings, Cyril Despres gained another place today and is currently in 8th position, but sill almost 2 hours and 30 minutes from leader Marc Coma. Finally, a special mention should go to Laia Sanz, the leading lady in the general standings, who recorded a fantastic 9th best time of the day.

In the quad category, the day took an unusual turn for the leader of the general standings, Ignacio Casale, who was forced to stop after 177 km for a puncture which took a long time to repair. In the close struggle involving Lafuente, Sonik and the young Chilean, Casale saw his lead in the general standings melt away in the face of the quick pace imposed at the front of the race by Sebastian Husseini, who won the stage in the end at Iquique. However, in the mean-time, Casale had managed to get the bit back between his teeth to keep alive the ambition of being the first Chilean to win a Dakar. Having made a dazzling comeback, Casale finished second, 24'58'' behind Husseini, thus maintaining the gap over Lafuente and Sonik, even managing to gain more time on them in the general standings, where they trail him by 22'34'' and 46'28'' respectively. A grandstand show on the road to Valparaiso.

Rider Comments:

Marc Coma : It was a good day for me


It was a complicated stage in the Atacama Desert. Very nice and very fast at the beginning, but on the last part we found some dunes. I tried to catch Joan, because he started two minutes in front of me. When I caught up with him I tried to follow to ride together to the end. It was a good day for me.

 

Cyril Despres: A day with a lot of everything

As the organisers say, a day with a lot of everything, a lot of navigation and a lot of rios. There was a quite nice track that was twisty until the 200 km point. It was nice, with nice skids and nice corners. Then we arrived in the part that is a little bit more complicated for the hands, wrists and arms. It was really bumpy with a lot of rocks. It was demanding, but everything like this, to arrive here via this descent, well, it's a nice place to be.

 

Joan Barreda Bort: I did the best I can

It was a very complicated stage. I started very quickly, but Marc (Coma) accelerated and caught up with me in the dunes at the end of the stage. I'm happy, because I did the best I can, I really did. There are two very hard days left. I'm going to carry on at the same pace. Tomorrow I'll be opening the way, but I'm happy with the work that I'm doing.

Helder Rodrigues: The downhill, when you finish, is very nice

It was good for me. I pushed, even if I knew that Cyril, Joan and Marc were fast, but I also pushed to make up time on the other riders. At the finish I rode everything alone. It's difficult because when you're alone you have to decide everything by yourself, but I did some good navigation, not so fast but good. I'm happy to be here and have finished one day more. It was very long. The downhill, when you finish, is very nice.
Ignacio Casale (Quad): I really pushed myself to get the time back

I'm really happy. This morning I set off first. I opened the way, got a puncture and lost a lot of time repairing it, almost 20' in relation to Lafuente and Husseini. So, I accelerated and really pushed myself to get the time back. In the end, it's a good stage, because I managed to claw the time back on my pursuers. I was a bit scared, because there was a lot of time to make up and I had to push myself and the machine, but I've managed to get to Iquique after a positive stage, so I'm very happy.
 
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