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Motorsport | Dakar Rally

Marc Coma - KTM

Iquique stage had a sting

The stages around Iquique have been extremely testing for competitors in the 10th stage of the 2012 Dakar Rally. 

The 377km final special stage in Chile took no prisoners, whilst catching out many competitors navigating their way to Arica. In all the categories it was not the favourites who won the stage, and in the overall standings things became closer in both the Bike and Car categories.

At first the very quick tracks saw competitors going as fast as their vehicles allowed, but many took wrong directions that cost them valuable time. Once they landed in the soft sand (fesh-fesh) many teams battled, hence the strange stage results.

Cracks may have started to show in Robby Gordon's armour, whilst the Minis are not rock hard either. After starting first on the road, Gordon stopped on the route, but later he caught up and passed Peterhansel.

The stage witnessed a fantastic duel between Gordon and Stéphane Peterhansel, the two main rivals for victory in Lima, with the role of opening the road being exchanged several times. However, at the end of the special, whilst he was out in front, the American went off the track and damaged his car, leaving the road open for Peterhansel. Nani Roma won the day's stage from third place at the start, scoring his fifth stage in the Dakar.

More significantly, in the general standings, Nani Roma not only took advantage of the mishap suffered by Gordon, who in the end lost 14'14" on the day, but also the mechanical problems encountered by Poland's Krzysztof Holowczyc, whose power steering broke down after 50 km, to grab second place in the general standings, 19'05" behind the unchanged leader Peterhansel, now 46" ahead of Gordon.

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But there was bad news for Gordon from the race stewards.

"On completion of the ninth stage (Antofagasta-Iquique), following observation of technical non-compliance on vehicle No. 303 (Robby Gordon) (article 1P and 3P of the technical rules), the Car Race Officials' Committee has decided to disqualify No. 303 from the race," said an official statement. "The driver has appealed against this decision. During appeals, decisions are placed on hold. As a result, vehicle No. 303 will continue the rally until the outcome of the appeal."

"Today it was a big fight with Gordon," said overall leader, Stéphane Peterhansel. "At the beginning he was a little bit slower than us. We overtook him when he made a navigation mistake, but at the end he overtook me again. He was really fast on a very short corner to the left, very tight, and he went straight on and jumped off a small cliff. I was sure that he rolled, but when I saw again through the dust he was on his wheels. I think something happened with his car, I don't know exactly why or what - maybe the tyre? I don't know…" 

"I hit a rock with both right-side tyres and as you can see this wheel is way out, so we've got some broken parts," said Gordon. "Do I think I can win again? Of course. I was passing him [Peterhansel], he didn't move over and I clobbered a rock and got two flat tyres at the same time. So, we've got our work cut out for us. We've got a damaged race car that we're going to have work on and there's a lot of damage from what I can see. Now we'll push, push, push even harder." 

South Africa's Giniel de Villiers in a Toyota once again put in a great performance.

"I think it was the toughest stage so far," he said. "It was really tricky at the beginning with a lot of rocks and a lot of fesh-fesh and you really had to be quite sharp. In the dunes it was also difficult with the visibility, it wasn't easy to see, although the crossing were not too difficult. But for sure, there was the fesh-fesh and very bumpy roads and also in some places we had quite tricky navigation as well. We just tried to follow the road-book exactly and we didn't make any mistakes. The Toyota ran well again today, so no complaints. Well, I think the cars are running pretty good. We've had no technical issues and nothing from a reliability point of view. It's been excellent. We lack the power and performance to compete up front, unfortunately we cannot quite be there, but, like I said, we've got to look to the future. We're running with a new regulation already, with a standard engine and the front cars are running with highly modified engines, so if we take that we are doing pretty good. We tried to push. If we have stages like today I think anything is possible because on a stage like today a lot of things can happen. It's not easy, but that's what we're looking for: the more difficult it gets, the better it is for us."

Husqvarna rider Joan Barreda (Spain) injured his right foot after 35km, but he got some medication at the refuel and recovered well to take the stage win in the motorcycle category, after riding with the two KTM archrivals Marc Coma (Spain) and Cyril Després (France). 

It was the Frenchman who opened the road on Wednesday, and Coma managed to take a little more than 2 minutes out of his overall lead. Després now leads the race by 21 seconds with Barreda and Coma starting ahead of him on Thursday's stage. 

"It's the tone that's been set for the rally and I think we'll keep on battling until the end," said KTM's factory rider, Marc Coma. "We keep trying to make the difference all the time and the entry into Peru will be decisive. The race will hinge on the smallest of margins. When the performance level is equivalent with the same team and the same bike, it's very difficult, both for him and for me. But when it comes to the crunch, it will be entirely to do with one rider or the other." 

"It was all going well for me until the 225 km point and I'd managed to keep up a good pace," said Cyril Després. "But I made a small navigation mistake and that's when Marc overtook me. He was with Joan Barreda, who I'd like to congratulate on riding a superb stage. At this level, every second counts! It's a scenario that I thought might happen, so I'm not surprised. I'm just happy to have got through another day. Staying out in front for the whole 377 km whilst riding flat out isn't easy. If I finish in his dust or him in mine, it doesn't change that much." 

"After the rear wheel problems I had on the third day, I've been taking it day by day," said Husqvarna rider Joan Barreda Bort. "On the last stages it has been better and yesterday, for example, I saw that I could go on the attack, so I went for it. On today's stage, I had a problem with my foot. On a very quick bend, where I was at 120 km/h, I hit a stone with my foot and I thought that the impact had torn my leg off. When I arrived at the refueling zone, I took some painkillers and it was okay until the end of the stage. I even speeded up. We'll see what's happened to me. I thought I might have fractured my shin, but I don't think I have. I don't know how serious the injury is, but I think I should be okay and be able to finish in Lima." 

Quad racing in the South American Dakar belongs to Argentina and Chile. As in the past two years the overall victory should go to a Patronelli. 

Tomas Maffei, Marcos Patronelli and brother Alejandro Patronelli occupy the steps on the podium four days from the finish in Lima. The Patronelli brothers are the best placed, with Alejandro boasting a lead of 1:19'29" over Marcos. Tomas Maffei has moved to 1:36'46" behind the leader and 17'17" behind second place. 

"It was a very varied, quick stage and I was quite nervous about it," commented stage winner Tomas Maffei. "After the long stage at Antofagasta this one was shorter and it was better. The navigation was complicated. I lost a way point and had to look for it. But, all in all, it was a superb stage, with a magnificent passage through the mountains. There was a lot of earth and the wind wasn't blowing it away, meaning it stayed on the tracks, especially in the last 20 to 30 kilometres of the rally. Now I have to look after the quad and avoid losing contact with the leaders in the general standings. We're going to be entering Peru and there will be the marathon stage. It's sure that being on my own makes it more difficult, but either of them could have a problem." 

In the trucks category, Kamaz took their first stage win in the 10th stage, the first stage victory for Kazakhstan driver Artur Ardavichus, 2'18" ahead of his Russian team-mate Andrey Karginov. The two Kamaz trucks benefitted from a navigation mistake by Gerard de Rooij in the first few kilometres, whilst taking his "lieutenant" Hans Stacey with him. This has not had a major effect on the general standings though, where De Rooij still leads comfortably, 59'27" ahead of Stacey. 

However, the 2007 winner saw Ardavichus gain on him, with the Kazakhstani now lying only 4'50" behind Stacey. 

Kazakh driver Artur Ardavichus had been the quickest over the 377 kilometres of this special. He completed the stage in 5:06'11", ahead of Russian driver Karginov in another Kamaz, who grabbed second place on the finishing line by only 5 seconds from the first Iveco, namely third-placed Gerard De Rooij, 2'23" behind the day's winner. 

Category leader, Netherlands's Gerard de Rooij remarked: "We went the wrong way and followed yesterday's special. We lost a lot of time there. The Kamaz passed us, but I overtook them again, so we didn't lose a lot of minutes to him today, a maximum of one minute or something, but that's life. The rest was good: the special was nice and the dunes were good. A lot of people were stuck in the dunes, but we didn't have any problems. I'm happy and I'm counting every day, hoping not to lose the gap that I have. I hope we will survive and make it to Lima."

Now it is Peru's time, and this is not just a metaphor, the rally will indeed be changing time zone to tackle the four last stages of its 2012 edition. There will not be much time left to settle the outcome in the battle for final triumph between Marc Coma and Cyril Després on two wheels. Time will also be short to make a decisive difference in the car category general standings, where the Minis seem to be well set for success in Lima. For the first day of the Dakar in their country, the Peruvians will be treated to two separate specials and extra distances for the bikers. After a day of chopping and changing between off-road and dried river beds, they will enjoy a greater degree of comradeship, with a dedicated bivouac before continuing to explore Peru. The formula, which had not been used since the Moroccan camp at Foum Zguid during the Dakar 2007, also involves a major constraint that will influence how the race is handled: called a "marathon stage" from the Africa Dakar, the assistance vehicles will not be authorised to enter the workshop enclosure, where only the bike and quad riders can help each other.

Stage 10 Results - Cars

1 Roma (ESP) Périn (FRA) Mini 03:59:37
2 Peterhansel (FRA) Cottret (FRA) Mini 00:00:21
3 De Villiers (RSA) Von Zitzewitz (GER) Toyota 00:07:44
4 Gordon (USA) Campbell (USA) Hummer 00:14:14
5 Ten Brinke (NED) Baumel (FRA) Mitsubishi 00:29:47
6 Leal Dos Santos (POR) Fiuza (POR) Mini 00:31:56
7 Novitzkiy (RUS) Schulz (GER) Mini 00:31:56
8 Sousa (POR) Garcin (FRA) GWM 00:43:47
9 Garafulic (CHI) Picard (FRA) BMW 00:45:00
10 Alvarez (ARG) Graue (ARG) Toyota 00:53:44
16 Vos (RSA) Howie (RSA) Toyota 01:17:34
56 Corbett (RSA) Jordaan (RSA) CR4 04:10:34

Overall Positions After Stage 10 - Cars

1 Peterhansel (FRA) Cottret (FRA) Mini 28:41:12
2 Roma (ESP) Périn (FRA) Mini  00:19:05 
3 Gordon (USA) Campbell (USA) Hummer  00:19:51  
4 De Villiers (RSA) Von Zitzewitz (GER) Toyota 01:01:33 
5 Novitzkiy (RUS) Schulz (GER) Mini 02:00:55 
6 Sousa (POR) Garcin (FRA) GWM 02:27:53 
7 Alvarez (ARG) Graue (ARG) Toyota  03:24:58 
8 Ten Brinke (NED) Baumel (FRA) Mitsubishi 03:58:22 
9 Van Loon (NED) Scholtalbers (NED) Mitsubishi 03:59:31 
10 Vos (RSA) Howie (RSA) Toyota 04:01:54 
26 Corbett (RSA) Jordaan (RSA) CR4 13:35:12

Stage 10 Results - Bikes

1 Barreda Bort (ESP) Husqvarna 04:18:43 
2 Coma (ESP) KTM 00:01:32 
3 Després (FRA) KTM 00:03:39 - 
4 Rodrigues (POR) Yamaha 00:05:16 - 
5 Viladoms (ESP) KTM 00:08:48 - 
6 Svitko (SVK) KTM 00:09:44 - 
7 Ullevalseter (NOR) KTM 00:10:34 - 
8 Pain (FRA) Yamaha 00:14:41 - 
9 Verhoeven (NED) Sherco 00:14:59 - 
10 Faria (POR) KTM 00:15:30 -
18 Curtis (RSA) KTM 00:35:09 -
92 Raaf (RSA) KTM 03:01:21 -

Overall Positions After Stage 10 - Bikes

1 Després (FRA) KTM 33:07:39
2 Coma (ESP) KTM 00:00:21 
3 Rodrigues (POR) Yamaha 00:45:56 - 
4 Viladoms (ESP) KTM 01:18:52 - 
5 Svitko (SVK) KTM 01:24:38 - 
6 Farres Guell (ESP) KTM 01:35:21 - 
7 Ullevalseter (NOR) KTM 01:56:22 
8 Pain (FRA) Yamaha 02:08:22 - 
9 Botturi (ITA) KTM 02:15:51 
10 Faria (POR) KTM 02:40:27 
26 Curtis (RSA) KTM 06:15:32 
86 Raaf (RSA) KTM 21:43:44



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