Third stage victory for Coma; Despres leads by 1:22.49'
Photography by J. Van Oers
January 12, 2010
KTM supported rider Marc Coma scored his third stage victory in the Dakar 2010 as riders went from La Serena to the Chilean capital of Santiago for Stage 10 as the Spaniard strengthened his determination make the best of the rest of the rally. KTM's Cyril Despres still leads overall.
Although Coma has virtually no chance of making up the distance separating him from leader, arch rival and fellow KTM rider Despres, his will to win has not diminished. He was beset with problems during the first half of the race that put him behind in the overall ranking. Coma, who won here last year, has now taken line honors in Stages Four, Six and Ten. He has made inroads into improving his overall position but is still ranked sixteenth.
Looking for victory in Stage 10
Coma said he went out looking for the victory on a day that took riders out of the Atacama Desert onto completely different terrain. "That was like a day of Endurance riding," Coma commented after the race. "There was a lot of skidding, but it was technical and interesting." The Spaniard said he had gone out looking for the victory and tried to show he was quick and comfortable on the tracks. "I started first and opened the road for the whole stage. It's hard. In fact it's the hardest thing to do. And trying to claw back some time is difficult too. But we did it, so I'm happy, even proud - all thanks to the team".
KTM's Despres rides to preserve his lead
Despres has now emerged as the favorite for the 2010 title and has a lead of one hour 22 minutes 49 seconds. He and Coma have exchanged Dakar victories in recent years and according to their alternating track record, it is Despres turn to take glory this year to make his tally three Dakar titles. On Tuesday it was the Frenchman's job to protect his lead and ride a steady race because having left the desert and entering new terrain, the race will now favor the 450 cc machines, the new norm for the race as of 2010. Both Despres and Coma are onboard their heavier KTM 690 Rally bikes, which this year had to be fitted with air restrictors to reduce performance down to the equivalent of the 450 cc bikes.
**Anything can still happen **
Despres knows from past experience that anything can happen in a Dakar Rally over more than 9000 km and the race is not over until the first bike crosses the finish line. He said he went out to protect his lead on Tuesday. "We could have easily lost first place in the rally today so I protected my lead. That said I also wasn't just taking it easy," he said, adding that many parts were slippery and there were bends with big drops on one side as well as stones on the track, obstacles that damaged his wheels in Sunday's stage. "For me, there was no need to go on all out attack. We're now on a different type of terrain with hard tracks that we have to adapt to. It's completely different from the last three days. It's a good mix".
Back into Argentina
Stage 11 takes riders from Santiago back across the Andes to San Juan in Argentina. On what should be a fast day's ride, they will encounter altitudes around 3000 meters and the timed special is 220 km.
Stage Ten Results
1. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM
2. David Fretegne, France, Yamaha
3. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha
4. Rubin Faria, Portugal, KTM
5. Francisco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia
6. Cyril Despres, Andorra, KTM (at 6'25")