Wheels go flying over the Atacama Desert's soft sand as the Dakar Rally gets to grips with Chile.
Last Saturday’s Rest Day is now a distant memory at the 2014 Dakar Rally as the race took another chunk out the 9000km route on Stage Nine. The path between Calama and Iquique brought dunes back into the equation as the desert classic sets up base in the Atacama Desert for the decisive final stages of the rally.
At the conclusion of the bike stage there were some familiar faces filling the top spots on the timesheet following a high-speed descent of the final dune. Overall race leader Marc Coma clocked a time of 4h 49m 05s over the 422km timed special stage to increase the Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider’s control over the contest.
Honda’s Joan Barreda was doing his best to keep pace with Coma as he cruised home in second place on the stage. The gap between the two Spaniards at the summit of the bike race stands at 40m 19s after Stage Nine.
A few minutes behind Barreda on the stage came five-time Dakar champion Cyril Despres as his second week charge continues. Portugal’s Helder Rodrigues was also in attack mode as he claimed the 6th fastest time of the stage.
Bikes: Overall after stage nine
1 Marc Coma, KTM, 36:55:07
2 Joan Barreda, Honda, + 00:55:36
3 Jordi Villadoma, KTM, + 01:54:02
While Coma looks a good bet to maintain his lead in the bike race the picture is not so clear for the quads. Local favourite Ignacio Casale started Stage Nine as the quad race leader but a puncture on the course cost him time. However, problems for Casale’s closest rivals minimised the damaged cause by Chilean’s own misfortune who holds a 22m 39s advantage over second placed Sergio Lafuente after today’s stage.
Quads: Overall after stage nine
1 Ignacio Casale, Yamaha, 45:50:48
2 Sergio Lafuente, Yamaha, + 00:22:39
3 Rafal Sonik, Yamaha, + 00:46:28
A 64th Dakar stage win for 11-time champion Stéphane Peterhansel saw the Frenchman close the gap on Mini team-mate Nani Roma to 12m 10s at the front of the car race. The tough road to Iquique saw Giniel de Villiers drop from 3rd to 5th in the car classification with a gap of five minutes now standing between himself and a place on the podium. Giniel’s fellow Toyota driver Adam Malysz followed the South African home with a solid 6th place finish on the stage.
Cars: Overall after stage nine
1 Roma/Perin, Mini, 34:15:37
2 Peterhansel/Cottret, Mini, + 00:12:10
3 Terranova/Fuiza, Mini, + 00:54:33
There was real purpose about the driving of Andrey Karginov behind the wheel of his Kamaz truck on Stage Nine. Opening the road after yesterday’s stage win did not trouble the Russian in the slightest as he put his foot down to record another fastest time. The impact of this result has reduced the gap between Karginov and truck race leader Gerard De Rooy to a tantalising 13 minutes.
Trucks: Overall after stage nine
1 De Rooy/Colsoul/Rodewald, Iveco, 36:37:45
2 Karginov/Mokeev/Devyatkin, KAMAZ, + 00:13:28
3 Nikolaev/Yakovlev/Rybakov, KAMAZ, + 01:21:41
“It’s not possible to race at 100 per cent every day in the Dakar. You must find a pace that you are happy to control. But knowing the level to ride at is difficult. I will race at maybe 85 per cent during the stage. I try to find the comfort zone and stick to it. Some days it is effortless. Everything goes perfectly – I meet all my way points, make no navigation errors and feel at one with the bike. But then there are other days when you ride like a rookie – like it is the first time you’ve ever ridden a bike.”
Dakar Alphabet… W is for Way Points
These are points on the route defined by the organiser via degrees of latitude and longitude. The co-ordinates are fed into the GPS system and must be passed by the vehicles. Various types of Way Points are featured at the Dakar; WPV (Way Point Visible), WPM (Way Point Masked) and WPE (Way Point Eclipse) as well as PC (Passage Control) and DZ and FZ that mark the beginning and end of a speed limit.
On This Stage…
2010: The elements had their say in Copiapó as Camanchaca (morning mist) engulfed the bivouac and forced the organisers to shorten the schedule stage by 168km.
The Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on the planet and some parts of the region have not seen rainfall for over 400 years. How much rain falls on the town of Iquique in an average year?
☐ 0.01 mm
☐ 5.00 mm
☐ 10.00 mm
Yesterday’s answer: 25,000 tonnes of salt is extracted each year from Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia.
The path to Antofagasta takes each brave competitor over the perilous fesh-fesh sand of Chile’s mining region. The frontrunners will be looking to take advantage of any mechanical or navigational mishaps from their rivals as they battle towards the Pacific Ocean.