News 5 Jan 2011

Coma takes 12th Dakar stage victory, Aussie Smith now 22nd

Marc Coma won the third stage of the Dakar Rally this morning.

Marc Coma won the third stage of the Dakar Rally this morning.

On the long special of day three at the Dakar Rally in Argentina, KTM’s Marc Coma was victorious for the 12th time in his career on the Dakar.

Cyril Despres holds on to the race lead by a small margin, whereas outsiders Paulo Gonçalves and Olivier Pain did their chances a whole world of good.

The sharp increase in mileage to be covered thrust the Dakar riders into a new dimension of the race. The change in terrain, demanding more subtle navigational skills than on the last two stages, gave rise to a number of different scenarios.

Despres, for example, who had distanced his rivals in an unruffled manner up to this point, lost a significant part of his lead due to several mistakes at the start of the day.

After 113km of racing, the title holder found himself even more than four minutes behind the BMW belonging to Gonçalves, the quickest rider at CP1.

Always discrete but always there, Coma took on the role of opening the road. Well versed in this honour, he did a very efficient job and picked up his 12th stage victory on the Dakar in San Salvador de Jujuy, ahead of Despres.

The Frenchman, who managed to make up some of the time lost during the second part of the day, held on to his position as leader of the general standings.

However, with the Catalan closing in, the two rivals are almost level-pegging – they are separated by merely 14 seconds.

“That was a really authentic Dakar day – the first part with lots of navigation, then more riding on the rest,” Coma commented. “I’m happy with where I am. I took advantage of a little navigation mistake by Cyril Despres.

“Of course it’s important to win a special, but my aim is to win the rally.”

Coma was not the only beneficiary of the day’s battles. Paulo Gonçalves, third-placed 3:36 behind the stage winner, moves up a rank with his fine performance. The Portuguese rider is now fourth in the general standings.

The progress of Olivier Pain is even more noteworthy. He had targeted this stage as a potential target for his first victory on the Dakar. In the end, the Yamaha rider finished fourth today, but moved from 11th place to sixth in the general standings.

The youngest of the genuine pretenders for the top five places even managed to overtake Francisco ‘Chaleco’ Lopez, who lost 13 minutes today and now lies in seventh, already 18 minutes behind Coma.

Australian Jacob Smith now sits 22nd overall after taking 26th today, while Warren Strange now sits in 40th. Simon Pavey dropped from 60th to 108th, as Mark Davidson improved from 126th to 113th overall.

Dakar Rally 2011
Stage 3 Results

1. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM
2. Cyril Despres, Andorra, KTM
3. Paolo Goncalves, Portugal BMW
4. Olivier Pain, France, Yamaha
5. Ruben Faria, Portugal, KTM
26. Jacob Smith, Australia, Honda
34. Warren Strange, Australia, Honda
117. Mark Davidson, Australia, Honda
139. Simon Pavey, Australia, BMW

Overall Standings After Stage 3
1. Cyril Despres, Andorra, KTM
2. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM
3. Ruben Faria, Portugal, KTM
4. Paolo Goncalves, Portugal, BMW
5. Jose Rodrigues, Brazil, BMW
22. Jacob Smith, Australia, Honda
40. Warren Strange, Australia, Honda
108. Simon Pavey, Australia, BMW
113. Mark Davidson, Australia, Honda