Dakar Rally – Stage 10
Stage 10, another one with loads of sand and fesh-fesh, saw Spaniard Joan Barreda take his fourth stage win in 2014 ahead of team-mate Hélder Rodrigues, with Cyril Despres third. Starting first in the morning, overall leader Coma spent all day keeping the gaps within acceptable limits, conceding 11’26’ to his closest pursuer but retaining a 44’10’ advantage at the top of the motorcycle competition.
Yesterday’s 15-minute penalty for speeding didn’t detune Barreda’s belief in his chances of winning, as he showed in the 688 km stage 10 from Iquique to Antofagasta. The Honda rider, who had started the first of the day’s two specials in tenth place, used his ideal starting position to follow the tracks of the riders ahead of him and really hit the gas throughout the stage.
By the end of the day he had overtaken six motorcycles and taken his ninth Dakar stage win, eight minutes ahead of Portugal’s team-mate Hélder Rodrigues and close to 10 minutes ahead of Cyril Despres. The defending champion was second off the start line and quickly caught up with yesterday’s winner Marc Coma. It was the perfect wheel for the overall leader to follow, who was able to ride at a high pace but without taking risks. Coma went on to post the fifth best time, 11’26’ behind Barreda.
No reason for Coma to panic, as he still holds a 44-minute lead over Barreda and a margin of over two hours over his team-mate Jordi Viladoms, who was also handed a 15-minute penalty yesterday for an engine change.
Cyril Despres continues to move up the pecking order and now sits in sixth place. The bad news from stage 10 is that Chile’s Jeremías Israel Esquerre had to drop out due to a fall, relinquishing his fourth place in the general classification to Olivier Pain, fourth today. The battle for the bottom step of the podium promises to be an epic one, with Pain, Rodrigues, Despres and Poland’s Przygonski within just 13’03’ of one another.