COMA CLOSES ON LEADER AFTER STAGE FOUR OF DAKAR 2014
Red Bull KTM Factory riders Chaleco López of Chile and Spain’s Marc Coma had a good day out in Stage Four of the Dakar 2014, finishing 2-3 on the day. Coma has moved up to second overall and trails by only 3:10 minutes and Lopez is in third overall, 5:12 behind the leader.
As predicted, the second half of the first marathon stage was a matter of survival as riders nursed their bikes home after no mechanical assistance and no fresh tires overnight.
Chaleco López had a great day, finishing only 29 seconds behind the stage winner, Joan Pedrero. Marc Coma, who is bidding for his fourth Dakar title, trimmed the gap to overall leader, Barreda of Spain, to just 3 minutes 10 seconds.
Lopez commented briefly at the end of his stage: "Stone, river, stone – a very technical route but my tires were good enough. Today was very long and yesterday was incredibly difficult navigation in the mountains. It was a very hard day for me today but it was for all the riders.
Coma also said it was a very hard day: "Yesterday was also very extreme and today was another level of difficulty. Added to that was the fact that it was the marathon stage without assistance. After last week's rain it was hardly possible to see the tracks and it was very easy to make a navigational error. The truth is that today was especially hard."
Factory teammate Jordi Viladoms was eleventh on Wednesday and is ninth in the overall standings some 40:14 minutes behind the leader. The fourth team member, Ruben Faria of Portugal crashed in Tuesday’s stage and is out of the race.
KTM Factory Team Manager Alex Doringer was a happy man after Stage Four: "The bike and our riders did a fantastic job. Both days of the marathon were very intense. Marc and Chaleco did a fantastic marathon,” he commented. The factory riders are competing on the brand new KTM 450 RALLY bike.
KTM-supported rider Kuba Przygonski of Poland is currently overall tenth and Riaan van Niekerk of South Africa is twenty-second after a long day. He lost two hours in the stage through navigational issues. Australia’s Ben Grabham crashed after encountering a drop-off in thick dust and tok a heavy fall. The winner of more than 30 major offroad titles in Australia was taken to hospital to be checked but was subsequently released.
The 32-year-old winner of at least 30 Australian titles in various forms of off-road motorcycling encountered a drop-off in thick dust and fell heavily, before being taken to hospital for examination in Argentina where he was subsequently released.
The marathon stage proved to be an early shakeout and while anything is possible in the Dakar, a handful of riders now seem to be in command of the overall standings. Only the top five are within half an hour of the leader and Coma and Lopez are well placed in this group.
Riders still have to face a second marathon stage after they enter Bolivia for the first time after Saturday’s rest day, and there are still the many kilometres of desert riding in Chile before they reach the finish in Valparaiso.
The stage took riders from San Juan to Chilecito over 210 km liaison and a timed special of 353 km for a total of 563 km. Navigation played an important part in the first part and above all, riders had to nurse their tires, already badly worn from the previous day, through the entire day.
They now have to tackle another very long timed special on Thursday. They face 527 km under the clock and the longest stage in terms of distance – 911 km – as they make their way from Chilecito to Tucumán. The timed special is in two parts and much of it is in the sand. Riders will also have to deal with high temperatures.
Results Dakar 2014, Stage Four (unofficial)
San Juan to Chilecito – 210 km liaison, 353 km special = 563 km
1. Joan Pedrero (ESP), Sherco, 5:29:13 h
2. Chaleco Lopez (RCH), KTM, +29 sec
3. Marc Coma (ESP), KTM, +3:10 min
4. Israel Esquerre (RCH), Speedbrain, +6:30
5. Olivier Pain (FRA), Yamaha, +7:01
8. Ivan Jakes (SK), KTM, +19:30
11. Jordi Viladoms (ESP), KTM, +28:37
12. Stefan Svitko (SK), KTM, +30:32
13. Jakub Przygonski (PL), KTM, +30:54
14. David Casteu (FRA), KTM, +33:57
69. Riaan van Niekerk (RSA), KTM, +2:01:40 h
DNF Ben Grabham (AUS), KTM
Overall Standings after 4 of 13 stages
1. Joan Barreda (ESP), Honda, 15:39:53 h
2. Coma, +3:10 min
3. Lopez, +5:12
4. Alain Duclos (FRA), Sherco, +25:55
5. Pain, +29:38
7. Casteu, +42:17
9. Viladoms, +49:14
10. Przygonski, +54:52
11. Svitko, +56:45
14. Jakes, +1:32:43 h
22. Van Niekerk, +2:42:03
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