The second special stage of the 2009 Dakar Rally has been won by David Frétigné, winning his eighth stage victory in a Dakar finishing 43’’ ahead of David Casteu, who still remains leader in the overall standings after winning Stage One on Saturday.
Frétigné confirmed the great potential of the 450cc bikes on this edition of the Dakar, joining Casteu in winning a stage on a 450. Riding a Yamaha he has been designing and refining since 2004 to try and get to the ultimate victory, the multiple enduro-racing French champion won – on the road to La Rioja – his first stage victory in Latin America. Last year, Frétigné had reached the final podium finishing third without however increasing his number of stage victories.
Frétigné had not had the pleasure of any stage victory since his last special stage victory on the 2006 Dakar between Tambacounda and Dakar. This eighth stage victory also has a particular meaning in the context of the fight between big and small-engine bikes. The new rule adopted to rebalance the power of the bikes could be opening up new opportunities to Frétigné, but also to Casteu, who was the second fastest today and arrives 43’’ behind the day’s winner.
First, the situation was no reason to worry for title holder Marc Coma, who had lost 1’08’’ to Frétigné on the trail, but who was still in ambush 37’’ behind Casteu in the provisional overall standings, because once he got to the bivouac, the title holder was told that he had been imposed a penalty for speeding when crossing a village in yesterday’s special stage. This negligence costs him 22 minutes and brings him to a low 14th place in the overall standings.
Cyril Despres, who finished fourth today, lost 2’50’’ to Frétigné but becomes second in the rally raid’s hierarchy 2’10’’ behind Casteu just four seconds ahead of the day’s hero. If the 450cc are at ease in the beginning of the rally raid, the one of Frans Verhoeven, who is testing a brand new BMW model, has had serious trouble since the beginning of the special stage today. After breaking his gear box, the Dutch rider who finished 8th in 2009 waited for his assistance hoping to be able to get back in the saddle but was finally forced to withdraw.