News 11 Jan 2010

Rally: Lopez wins Dakar stage eight, Coma drops to 24th

In Copiapo during the eighth stage of the 2010 Dakar Rally, Aprilia’s Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez won his second stage in Chile this year and steps onto the provisional podium for the Dakar but still with a big gap to race leader Cyril Despres.

The situation in the bike race was dramatically changed with the relegation of Marc Coma from second to 24th place in the general standings.

While the penalty leaves the road open for Cyril Despres, on the condition that he avoids any big mistakes and keeps his pursuers at a distance, the fight for second place could become fierce. Some way behind the leader, three riders were separated this morning by 11 minutes, with a slight advantage for Helder Rodrigues over Pal-Anders Ullevalseter and Lopez.

In this three-way struggle, the pick of the day was the performance by “Chaleco”, who overtook his Portuguese rival on the road to Copiapo. In doing so, the Chilean won another stage in his homeland, the third in his career and really made the difference on the second section of the stage.

Lopez will therefore be responsible for opening the road tomorrow, which means he will be taking on the role played today by Despres. The two-time winner of the Dakar was confronted with navigational difficulties in addition to problems with the rim on his back wheel. It was only at CP3, after 245 kilometres of the stage, that he was able to retrieve the wheel of his ‘water carrier’ Ruben Faria and finish in better conditions.

Despres arrived on the finishing line in fifth place on the day, trailing “Chaleco” by 6’43’’, but more importantly his command over the general standings was not adversely affected. He will start tomorrow’s stage with a comfortable lead of 1 hour 20 minutes over Norwegian Ullevalseter.