Stage 6: Duclos wins but a biker is killed

Dakar 2014

maddix park mx

The 6th stage of the Dakar, marked by the announcement of the death of Belgian biker Eric Palante (see the special press release below), was won in the bike category by Alain Duclos, eight years after his first victory in Bamako.

  • His triumph had been under preparation for some time. Since the start of the Dakar, Alain Duclos has been able to measure the competitiveness of his 450 Sherco, which has visibly accomplished enormous progress compared to last year. He has also improved in technical and physical terms, following a blank rally-raid season. Perfectly keeping pace with the best over the first 5 stages, with 3 top 5 finishes, the best performing outsider of the year had probably ticked off this stage as within his capacities of recognised scratch time hunter, given its endurance racing character. The 9th rider to start this morning, the Franco-Malian rider went on all-out attack, overtaking 5 riders and recording the best time on arrival near Salta, just like in 2006, when he won on home territory in Bamako, already with a gap of a minute over none other than Marc Coma… who also led the general standings.

If Duclos has put himself on the provisional podium, then he owes his progression to his improved riding skills and consistency, which another challenger for the title was not able to find this year. After 211 km, “Chaleco” Lopez crashed, annihilating his bike as well as his dreams of glory in Valparaiso. However, Joan Barreda, 4th today, only 2'22” behind Duclos, reaches the rest day on the second step of the provisional podium, ready to take advantage of the slightest error by Coma… on the condition that he makes a mistake that costs him 42 minutes…

Today the trucks were racing on a shorter special (156 km) that was reserved exclusively for them. This stage seems to have been enjoyed by Dmitry Sotnikov and Andrey Karginov, who opened the way without obstacles throughout the special, as well as Gerard De Rooy immediately behind them, intent on protecting his position as general standings leader. It was also an opportunity for Peter Versluis, the 12th to start this morning, to pour all his effort into his performance and win his second special stage victory on the Dakar.

In the quad category, Rafal Sonik stood out in the trio involved half way through the rally in the battle for the title. Without taking the lead in the general standings, the Polish rider took 54''off Sergio Lafuente, still in command with a lead of 22'. Ignacio Casale, the only competitor left to defend Chilean pride at the top level after “Chaleco” Lopez leaving the race, now occupies third place in the general standings, 24'04'' behind Lafuente.

Rider Comments:

Alain Duclos:  A good performance

It was a good performance since I gained 10 minutes back on Jordi Villadoms, so I could maybe finish 4th or 3rd in the end. It would be nice if I can win the stage. I'm going to wait for Barreda to arrive and we'll see [Duclos was speaking before the full results were known]. Today, it was my type of terrain. We've got over the worst over the last few days and the rest day has arrived at the right time – it couldn't be better timed.

Marc Coma: We have to be focused all the time

Today we came back to a normal Dakar day, not extreme like the days before. There were 15 km with a lot of navigation and single tracks that were very difficult to find. The last part was long with big tracks and I tried to push. I'm happy that we've arrived at the rest day because to be at the rest day is always something important. Now we're half way. We have a nice gap out in front but it's easy to lose twenty minutes or pick up twenty. The gaps are very big between the riders and we have to be focused all the time. Now it's important to enjoy the rest day because we need all the power for the second part of the rally.

Joan Barreda:  Dangerous with a lot of dust

Today was good, finally. It was not easy because it was so dangerous with a lot of dust in the first few kilometres, then many kilometres with fesh-fesh. I started in a rear position because of the problem from yesterday and it was difficult to pass these riders with the dust. But finally I took a good pace with the speedy open tracks and recovered a few minutes. I finished in a good position, I think.

Cyril Despres: It was a good day -finally

Today it was not that easy to start in 17th position. There was a lot of dust, but I tried to find my rhythm and overtake the other riders carefully. Then in an enduro part, I fell down and I landed on my back. It was not a big problem but my water bag just exploded and since this morning I've been riding without water. It was hot, but it was a good day -finally. It was not in my plans to have these problems and be in this position overall, but I don't have many options now. I wake up on the morning and try to pretend like I'm leading the overall standings and give my best. I try to push and today I quite enjoyed it quite a lot.

Belgian Rider Dies at the Dakar

CATAMARCA, Argentina (AP) — Belgian motorcycle rider Eric Palante has died at the Dakar Rally, organizers said Friday.

Organizers said they went out looking for the 50-year-old Palante after he failed to finish the fifth stage, which most riders completed on Thursday, and found his body along the route.

The cause of death was being investigated, and officials offered few details.

This was Palante's 11th Dakar Rally, according to an event biography, which said he would have turned 51 on Jan. 21. It said his goal was to win the amateur trophy for motorbikes.

"He knew the race very well, and over the years his enthusiastic but serious approach had made him one of the pillars of the event," organizers said in a statement.

Organizers said they received no alert from Palante.

Reports on Palante's website on Thursday morning said that he had injured his hand in an accident after his bike had to be towed the previous day. After overnight repairs to his bike and treatment on his hand, he set off again for fifth stage.

"A very long stage of suffering is ahead," his website said.  Report by Byron Wilson

Samsung Sherco Rally Team’s Alain Duclos secured his first stage win of the 2014 Dakar Rally in Stage 6, finishing more than a minute ahead of Red Bull Factory KTM’s Marc Coma. Factory Yamaha’s Michael Metge earned his best result of the current rally with a third-place finish. Coma retains an imposing overall lead, over 42 minutes ahead of Team HRC’s Joan Barreda . Duclos’ Stage 6 performance jumps him from fifth overall to third.

At the end of Stage 5 Metge’s teammate and defending Dakar champion, Cyril Despres, was hit with an hour penalty for missing WP17. As a result of the penalty his initial ranking in the overall standings after Stage 5 changed from eighth to 13th. He’s now more than two hours behind the leader. KTM rider Stephan Svitko and Metge were also hit with hour penalties following the stage as well.

“It was very hot in the special and the sand was soft,” explained Despres. “Because of that I was paying particular attention to engine temperature and even more so when I noticed I was consuming fuel at an alarming rate. I was on my way to get the famous WP17 but had to turn back when I realized I wouldn’t have enough fuel to make it to the end. I was right on the limit of running out when I came across a quad rider who kindly gave me a liter and a half. In all, my various problems cost me 44 minutes, to which will be added the one hour penalty”

Once Stage 6 got underway, Coma set the pace with a blistering start leading Duclos and Barreda’s teammate, Helder Rodrigues, across the opening miles. The KTM ace retained the stage lead for nearly two hours, but couldn’t shake Duclos and the Sherco rider overtook Coma 72 miles into the 248-mile special stage.

While Duclos attempted to open up a gap on Coma, Barreda and Duclos’ teammate, Juan Pedrero Garcia, worked their way into the lead pack. Coma’s teammate, Chaleco Lopez, was also in the mix but mid-way through the special the Chilean rider went down hard. Luckily he avoided serious injury, but damage to his bike left him with a DNF for the stage. Garcia, too, ran into trouble later in the day thanks to electrical problems.

Duclos led the way after the end of the first section of Stage 6, which was followed by 38 miles of connection before the start of the final section. The Sherco rider dominated the final portion of the day’s race, holding the lead to the finish line. Metge, Coma and Barreda battled for top-three honors in the stage while Despres made up significant ground to move inside the top-five for the day. At the end it was Barreda in fourth and Despres in fifth, followed by Rodrigues in sixth and Svitko in seventh.

Coma’s teammate, Jordi Villadoms, remains fourth overall while Speedbrain’s Jeremias Israel Esquerre moves to fifth. Despres’ teammate, Oliver Pain, is sixth followed by KTM’s Jakub Przygonski in seventh.

Sadly, a sweep truck covering the Stage 5 route early in the morning discovered the body of amateur Belgian rider Eric Palante. There’s no word yet on the details of Palante’s passing, but organizers say no emergency alert was received and that he had replenished his water in the afternoon. This was Palante’s 11th Dakar.

Dakar Rally 2014 Stage 6: Tucuman – Salta Results 
1. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco) 4:21:34 
2. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 4:22:49 
3. Michael Metge, FRA (Yamaha) 4:23:23 
4. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 4:23:56 
5. Cyril Despres, FRA (Yamaha) 4:24:29 
6. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Honda) 4:25:55 
7. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 4:29:20 
8. Jakub Przygonski, POL (KTM) 4:29:46 
9. Jordi Villadoms, ESP (KTM) 4:32:00
10. Jeremias Israel Esquerre, CHL (Speedbrain) 4:32:47

Dakar Rally 2014 Overall Results after Stage 6 
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 23:08:00 
2. Joan Barreda, ESP (Honda) 23:50:17 
3. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco) 24:08:58 
4. Jordi Villadoms, ESP (KTM) 24:16:09 
5. Jeremias Israel Esquerre, CHL (Speedbrain) 24:41:28 
6. Oliver Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 24:51:08 
7. Jakub Przygonski, POL (KTM) 24:57:59 
8. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Honda) 25:09:24 
9. David Casteu, FRA (KTM) 25:20:05 
10. Daniel Gouet, CHL (Honda) 25:25:26 
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