KTM'S LOPEZ LEADS DESAFIO RUTA 40 GOING INTO FINAL DAY
Stage glory again went to the KTM Rally Factory Team on Friday with Chaleco Lopez of Chile taking victory in the penultimate stage and also assuming the narrowest of leads in the overall standings from Portugal’s Helder Rodrigues.
It was also a good day for KTM’s other two riders with American Kurt Caselli second in the stage and third overall while Thursday’s stage winner Marc Coma of Spain finished fourth in the stage. Coma goes into the final stage on Saturday with a 3:58 minutes deficit in the overall standings. All three riders are on the KTM 450 Rally bike.
On their way from Chicelito to San Juan, riders again faced cancellation of part of the timed special, which was slated to be 455.74 km in two sections linked with a neutral section but in the end the only raced the second part. All that is now left is a loop section on Saturday, which takes riders out of San Juan and back in again. The timed special is just 146.23 km and will be toughly contested. While Coma experienced some (time) costly setback in Stage Three because of fuel line problems and made a massive recovering to get back into the race on Thursday, now all three KTM factory riders are vying for the podium places.
Coma, KTM’s multi Dakar winner and reigning World Champion said he was quite satisfied with his ride. “Today went quite okay and even though I had to open the track we defended pretty well,” he said, adding that organizers had decided to cancel the first part of the stage for quads and bike, largely because of freezing temperatures. “We had to climb to 3100 meters and first thing this morning it was predicted that 1000 meters of that would be in freezing conditions.” Coma said the navigation had been demanding and while it was not an easy ride he also said it was fun.
The result puts Coma back in the reckoning for the overall victory. He is currently fifth but only trails overall leader Helder Rodrigues of Portugal by 3:17 minutes. Among his toughest rivals for the number one spot will be Caselli, currently third overall and just 1:39 behind the leader, and Lopez in fourth overall trailing by just 2:11 with two more stages to go.
Coma: “Tomorrow will be the last day with a shorter timed stage of 146 km, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. After the problems we had it was good to get to final stage with some options. It will be complicated but of course I will not stop trying to win.”
The Desafio Ruta 40 is part of the Dakar Challenge series but also the fourth leg of the FIM World Cross Countries Championship. Coma, the reigning world champion has already won all three earlier legs.
Results Stage Five Desafio Ruta 40
1. Chaleco Lopez (RCH), KTM, 2:27.25 h
2. Kurt Caselli (USA), KTM, +1:07 min
3. Helder Rodrigues (P), Honda, +2:12
4. Marc Coma (E), KTM, +2:52
5. David Casteu (F), Yamaha, + 5:08
Standings Desafio Ruta 40 after 5 of 6 stages
1. Lopez, 16:38.28 h
2. Rodrigues, +0.10 min (plus one minute penalty)
3. Caselli, +0:35
4. Coma, +3:58
5. Casteu, +5:30