Day 11 Dakar 2010: Another Victory For KTM's Coma In Stage Nine
Photography by J. Van Oers
January 12, 2010
KTM supported riders Marc Coma and Cyril Despres came home in 1-2 just a breath away from each other in Stage Nine of the Dakar 2010 with Coma taking the final glory in a two-way race to the finish line.
Coma took the stage by a mere four seconds while Despres, the overall leader added more time to his cushion of advantage. He now leads the overall standings by one hour 21 minutes and 50 seconds. This was the final day in the dry sands of the Atacama Desert near Chile's coastline and the result reflected the shared skills and fierce competition between the two KTM riders.
Because of forecasts of morning fog rolling in from the Pacific, organizers delayed the start to 11:00 a.m. and shortened the route so that back markers would not be too late arriving at the bivouac. Riders faced 354 km with a timed section of 170 km, entirely of sand. The ninth stage also featured a new start modus, where riders started side by side in groups of 20.
Intense and a matter of honor, Despres says
Despres said it had been a nice if short stage that he described as intense. "Everyone played their part, but I hung back a bit right at the start," he said. "We kept swapping the lead over the first 70 kilometers. First it was Marc Coma. Then it was me. We must have overtaken each other around fifteen times. There were two possible routes at the finish line. We each took a different one and finished at almost the same time. Neither of us wanted to give anything away and its proof that as riders we are very closely matched. In rally raids, there are very few final sprints, but today, it was a matter of honor…"
Closely fought race
Coma said it had been an unusual day with the side by side start. "But it was a super start," he said. "Everyone was in front. We rode together with Ullevalseter at a good pace with two other bikes. The special was interesting at the start, with dunes and navigation. In the end, it was a good result for me. That's one more day of the rally gone and one day nearer to the finish. I'm happy. And the tires are as good as new".
Coma, who won last year in the first ever Dakar in South America also recovered well from a navigational error 62 km into the day's special which cost him an additional 5 km. The Spaniard has returned with renewed spirit with a second place in Stage Eight and the stage victory Monday after being penalized for a rule infringement in Stage Seven. He is however now out of contention for the overall victory.
Stage 10 takes the competitors from La Serena to the Chilean capital Santiago for a total of 586 km of mostly fast to very fast surface. The time special in the middle is 238 km.