The 11th stage of the recent Rally Dakar had been announced by the organisers as the toughest of the race. In fact, Thursday´s proceedings from Antofagasta to El Salvador offered everything that makes this sport so unique. The riders had to suffer through seven hours of special stage in one of the driest places on earth. Sand dunes, dry river beds, stony sections and fast hard-pack terrain challenged the participants. Man and machine were definitely getting tortured today.
Nevertheless major changes in the classification didn´t happen. All riders coming this far in the Dakar were ready for the difficulties.
Red Bull KTM factory rider Marc Coma of Spain remained on course to pick up his fourth Dakar title, winning the Stage. He now leads the overall standings with a 52 minute 36 seconds advantage over countryman Joan Barreda of HRC Honda.
Riders tackled a massive seven-hour ride of just over 600 km, deep in the dunes of the Atacama Desert. But for most of the day Coma and his traditional rival and former KTM teammate Cyril Despres rode close together. Despres was second in the stage coming in two minutes 51 behind Coma, who picked up his third stage win.
Marc Coma: “To find the right rhythm is never easy. To find the compromise between going fast, but not taking risks, this is the most difficult. You have to feel comfortable on the bike and not ride crazy. This is important. It’s still a long way to go and tomorrow is a very difficult special. We have to be very focused.”
Dakar 2014, Stage 11:
1. Marc Coma (ESP, KTM) 06:36:08
2. Cyril Despres (FRA, Yamaha) +00:02:51
3. Olivier Pain (FRA, Yamaha) +00:05:28
4. Jordi Viladoms (ESP, KTM) +00:05:53
5. Joan Barreda (ESP, Honda) +00:08:12
6. Helder Rodrigues (PRT, Honda) +00:09:23
7. Juan Pedrero Garcia (ESP, Sherco) +00:09:50
8. Stefan Svitko (SVK, KTM) +00:13:25
9. Jakub Przygonski (POL, KTM) +00:14:40
10. Ivan Jakes (SVK, KTM) +00:14:47
16. Paolo Ceci (ITA, Speedbrain) +00:31:54
17. Juan Carlos Salvatierra (BOL, Speedbrain) +00:34:38
34. Pedro Oliveira (PRT, Speedbrain) +01:20:53
Provisional overall standings:
1. Marc Coma (ESP, KTM) 48:24:41 hrs
2. Joan Barreda (ESP, Honda) +00:52:36
3. Jordi Viladoms (ESP, KTM) +02:07:56
4. Olivier Pain (FRA, Yamaha) +02:21:40
5. Helder Rodrigues (PRT, Honda) +02:30:35
6. Cyril Despres (FRA, Yamaha) +02:31:18
7. Jakub Przygonski (POL, KTM) +02:43:55
8. Daniel Gouet (CHL, Honda) +03:24:35
9. Stefan Svitko (SVK, KTM) +03:46:32
10 David Casteu (FRA, KTM) +04:07:56