News 13 Jan 2010

Rally: Coma wins third Dakar stage, Despres retains lead

Way behind in the general standings, Marc Coma used the last special stage in Chile to add a line to his roll of honour in the form of a third victory on the Dakar 2010.

In the rolling décor of the mountain landscape, KTM’s Coma was fast from the outset after winning the previous day, the Catalan spending a lonely day out on his own.

While the title holder went speeding away, David Frétigné had his mind on a 10-minute penalty handed out to him yesterday for failing to respect the flags at the finishing line. The Yamaha rider consequently started in 13th position today, which was not ideal for tackling a special that could have been beneficial for his smaller cylinder machine, though the day ended up turning out well for him.

On tracks that were very similar to those in his native Catalonia where he trains, Coma outshone the rest at the front of the race, from start to finish. Within a little more than three hours, the KTM rider beat Frétigné, who managed to overcome this morning’s setback, by 2’06 and Helder Rodrigues by 2’36.

The Portuguese rider put in the day’s best performance, closing in on third place in the general standings – now currently only 52” behind Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez and 2’10 behind Pal-Anders Ullevalseter, current runner-up to Cyril Despres. The battle for the podium therefore promises to be exciting, especially since tomorrow could benefit the 450cc machines rather than Ullevalseter’s 690cc.

Race leader Despres, who is still out in front by more than one hour, protected his lead, keeping Coma at a respectable distance without taking too many risks. The two times winner of the Dakar (in 2005 and 2007) now boasts a lead of 1 hour and 22 minutes over Ullevalseter.