News 12 Jan 2011

Street wins Dakar Rally Stage Nine as Smith soldiers on

The grouped start for the bikers changed the traditional Dakar stage start scenario, as Jonah Street grabbed a surprise victory in Copiapo while the duel between Marc Coma and Cyril Despres did not witness any real developments.

The bikers on the Dakar experienced an unusual day in the region of Copiapo, which began with an atypical grouped start and involved climbing of dunes separated by large valleys.

However, even in this type of landscape, the best of riders can still lose their bearings and leave themselves open to setbacks.

The first wave of ten riders got the stage going assuredly, but after twenty kilometres, nine of them were over-confident and chose the wrong direction, making a mistake that they were unable to repair.

Only Helder Rodrigues, the winner in Arica, managed to correctly interpret the road-book. The Portuguese rider seemed to be heading for a new triumph, but fate decided otherwise. After 225km, he ran out of petrol, eliminating him from the reckoning for the stage.

More importantly, one of the riders from the third wave sprang forward. Throughout the special Jonah Street led a veritable charge to rejoin the elite riders.

At the finishing line, he put in the best time of the day, with a lead of 3:36 over Frans Verhoeven, winning his second special stage on the rally after his victory in 2009 at San Rafael.

During this crossing of the desert, the leaders of the general standings remained discrete. Neither Marc Coma nor Cyril Despres found the inspiration which could have paid dividends after 21km.

They then assumed their responsibilities, leading the troop for the most part of the loop around Copiapo. The difficulty of making a break-away from a pack put paid to the attacking plans of Despres, but also Francisco Lopez.

As a result, the hierarchy remains unchanged as Coma still leads Despres by 8:14 and is 23:33 ahead of the Chilean rider, who was taking part in the last special of the year in his home country.

A penalty saw Australia’s Jacob Smith finish the stage in 91st, dropping him down the order to 46th overall.

2011 Dakar Rally
Stage Nine Results

1. Jonah Street, USA, Yamaha
2. Frans Verhoeven, Belgium, BMW
3. David Casteu, France, Sherco
4. Guell Farres, Spain, Aprilia
5. Jordi Viladoms, Spain, Yamaha
91. Jacob Smith, Australia, Honda
TBA. Simon Pavey, Australia, BMW

Standings after Stage Nine
1, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM
2, Cyril Despres Andorra, KTM
3, Chaleco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia
4, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha
5, Rubin Faria, Portugal, KTM
46. Jacob Smith, Australia, Honda
TBA. Simon Pavey, Australia, BMW