French Yamaha pilot Olivier Pain maintains the overall lead in the Dakar Rally after stage 6, but it was a good day for KTM riders to make up time. The winner was Chili’s own Chaleco Lopez, riding a support KTM, followed by Rubin Faria of Portugal, another KTM support rider. Red Bull KTM’s Cyril Despres delivered what was necessary in Stage Six of the 2-13 Dakar Rally to finish third in what was one of the longest stages in this year’s edition and to trim the deficit between him and the current overall leader to a mere two minutes 22 seconds. Of particular note was American Kurt Caselli’s performance. He was fourth, with his best performance in the event so far.
Johnny Campbell, after compound mechanical failures early in the week, rode to an uneventful 24th place finish on the stage, some 23 mimutes behind the leader. He now sits in 77th overall.
Despres: “I ate quite a lot of dust having started fifth this morning, but then I caught up with the stage leaders at the end of the first section. It was very quick, a WRC type route and finally there were some tracks and rocks. It was really nice to ride and on the second section, we all stuck together in single file. All in all, it was generally a good special and it's great to be in Chile!” Despres and the other KTm factory riders are competing on the KTM 450 Rally bike.
With eight more stages to go in the 8000 km marathon, everything is still to play for and the KTM title defender is now well positioned ahead of two more challenging stages before the one reprieve rest day on Sunday.
Some observers said that Thursday was the stage that signaled the real start of the major battle for supremacy as riders raced from Arica on the Chilean border to Calama. It was a massive test of physical and mental endurance and the riders had a grueling dawn start to the 767 km, 464 km of which was in two times specials. They also faced a time zone adjustment after having passed the border from Peru into Chile that robbed them on additional sleep. The stage took them into the notorious Atacama Desert, the driest place on the planet including an encounter with the dreaded fesh-fesh, the typical powder fine sand. Sand and dunes made up two thirds of the stage, making it all that more strength sapping for the riders.
Stage Seven demands even more strength and concentration and takes riders from Calama to Salta (In Argentina) over a total distance of 806 km - a liaison of 586 km and 202 km of timed special. it is planned as a designated marathon stage, which means riders bikes cannot be serviced throughout the state. This however is to be confirmed at the team meeting on Thursday evening.
Results Stage Six Arica to Calama total distance 767 km – 313 km liaison and 464 km special 1, Chaleco Lopez, Chile, KTM three hours 36.21 2, Ruben Faria, Portugal KTM 3:38.55 (at 2.22) 3, Cyril Despres, France, KTM 3:40.099.32 ((at 3.48) 4, Kurt Caselli, USA, KTM (at 4.48) 5, Alessandro Botturi, Italy, Husqvarna, 3:41.56 6, Israel Esquerre, Chile, Honda, 3:42.34 7, Frans Verhoeven, Netherlands, Yamaha, 3:43.02 8, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Honda, 3:43.02 9, Joan Pedrero, Spain, KTM, 3:43.43 10, Olivier Pain, France, Yamaha, 3:43.43
WARNING: Much of the action depicted in this magazine is potentially dangerous. Virtually all of the riders seen in our photos are experienced experts or professionals. Do not attempt to duplicate any stunts that are beyond your own capabilities. Always wear the appropriate safety gear.
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