7:00 am- Wow, what a turn around a day can make. After two days of miserable riding while suffering from multiple mechanical issues, Yamaha’s Jonah Street gets a stage win today. In stage 7 Jonah’s Yamaha WR450 suffered a burned electrical wire that took him some time to diagnose and repair. Once the repair was completed he had to continue without electrical power to his navigation equipment. Then yesterday in stage 8 he suffered more problems as his from brake line and odometer wire were torn off by the front wheel. He had to ride most of the day without a front brake and odometer. On a stage that required lots of technical navigation, he had to make due with only the GPS and road book.
The first 20 bikes are at the end of the stage now. Quinn Cody has dropped to 20th for the day and we don’t know what issues he may have had. The leaders all played it safe today, focusing more on the playing cat and mouse with each other and letting some of the other riders contest the stage win. Here are the provisional standings for the stage.
From Jonah’s Facebook post a few minutes ago: “How about those Apples”….
|4||018||FARRES GUELL (ESP)||APRILIA||003:11:26||00:04:30||00:00:00|
|10||003||LOPEZ CONTARDO (CHL)||APRILIA||003:14:49||00:07:53||00:00:00|
|12||010||PEDRERO GARCIA (ESP)||KTM||003:15:47||00:08:51||00:00:00|
and from KTM today
|No more cat and mouse, Despres says after Stage Nine of the Dakar|
|When the Dakar riders attacked their last full day in the Atacama Desert on Tuesday, organizers had promised that the 235 km timed loop course from Copiapo to Copiapo was likely to trick even the best. At the end of an obviously frustrating day of navigation, KTM factory rider Cyril Despres, seventh in the stage remarked that he was “fed up with the cat and mouse game”.|
Despres at seventh, his arch rival Marc Coma, leader in the standings in ninth place, their co-riders Ruben Faria and Juan Pedrero back at 26 and 12: so what happened to the KTM riders who have so far dominated the rally?
Confusion at the start
The top 10 all started together today with the remaining field going off in rows of 20 behind them. After that there was a navigation error and general confusion, according to Despres. “We didn’t stay grouped for a long time after the start because at the 17 km point Helder Rodrigues took a wrong direction and we all followed him. So, we turned round and ran straight into the second wave of starters. We were all riding in each other’s dust. It was a bit of a strange stage really.”
Coma and Despres still lead standings
This incident shook up the standing order on the day but didn’t affect the two leaders’ position at the front of the standings with the exception that Despres was able to trim the time deficit between him and Coma in the lead by a minute, and between these rivals, that is already something worth noting. At the conclusion of nine of the 13 stages of this more than 9000 km race, Coma leads Despres by 8:14 minutes. Bearing in mind that in the early stages Despres incurred a 10 minute penalty for failing to pass a flag at an early morning start, it is easy to see that when it comes to speed, skills and tactics, there is nothing separating the two.
Difficult day, coma says
Coma agreed that it had turned out to be a difficult day. He said fog and the group start had both made navigation difficult. “The first group got lost,” he said. “We turned right, when we shouldn’t have. When we got back on track the second wave caught up with us. It was a bit of a mess. After that, a group of around twenty quick riders formed and we managed to ride the rest of the stage normally. But in the end, it was a difficult day.”
KTM rival Rodrigues drifts back in the overall standings
Helder Rodrigues, the stage winner at Arica on the northern border of Chile, extracted himself from the navigation difficulties and at one point looked like he was going to steal the stage but then he ran out of fuel at the 225 km mark. This was when American Jonah Street, the eventual stage winner, seized the advantage and was eventually able to convert it into the Stage victory ahead of Belgium’s Frans Verhoeven and David Casteu of France, who took the minor places.
Excitement mounting as riders turn towards Argentina
Rodrigues now finds himself still at fourth in the standings but separated from Coma by more than an hour, while the two KTM riders’ closest rival remains the wily Chilean, Chaleco Lopez, who after tomorrow loses his home advantage as riders head back over the Andes and into Argentina. All indications are that the 33rd edition of the Dakar will now be a battle of attrition between Coma and Despres right to the finish line in Buenos Aires. Despres is going for his fourth title; Coma his third; KTM its tenth, so excitement is building in the KTM camp and among its supporters.
Tomorrow riders have another long day on the bikes as Stage 10 takes them from Copiapo to Chilecito – 686 km of road and a short special of just 176 km as they cross back across the Andes and into the hot white dunes of Fiambala.
Also from BMW today
Dakar 2011, Stage 9, Copiapo-Copiapo
Road section 35 km, Special 235 km
Today´s special stage of the Dakar 2011 made somewhat up for all the bad luck which Team BMW Motorrad by speedbrain experienced lately. Frans Verhoeven finished the loop around Copiapo in second place, scoring his best result of the rally so far. Going into the stage, it was unclear for a while whether the Dutchman would even be able to start. But he could participate in the mass start format and was sent ahead with the second group of riders, right behind the top ten. As all riders struggled inbetween the big dunes with navigation problems, Verhoeven found the conditions to his liking. He quickly caught the lead group to take command of the action.
Verhoeven crossed the finish in believing he had won the stage. Then U.S. rider Jonah Street, who had started five minutes later, posted a faster time. The speedbrain BMW pilot nevertheless expressed satisfaction with his performance. He´s now lying 25th in the overall standings.
Frans Verhoeven: “Why don´t things always go like this? Today was a very good one. Sometimes it felt like Motocross, with all these dune crossings. I´m happy with my riding and the bike, which worked fine.”
Teammate Pedro Bianchi Prata rode good as well. The Portuguese didn´t need to provide assistance and was able to concentrate on his own race. He scored 38th on the day and sits in 39th place overall.