Cyril Despres – “Today’s special has to go straight into the Top 5 most stunning specials I have done in 13 years of racing rallies – and in that time I’ve been to some pretty amazing places! As announced, the recent rains had really cut up the first part of the special and the riding was far from easy. Then at kilometre 299 we came to this incredible 3 kilometre climb. It was a really really hard to get up and I can only begin to imagine how many riders will go out of the race at that point – and it’s not just the amateurs who are going to struggle. Then after that we rode for about 60 kilometres on stunning tracks over a series of mountain ridges, as beautiful as they were difficult to navigate. Towards the end I came up behind and past both David Casteu and Marc Coma. All in all an excellent day that more than makes up for yesterday’s disappointments.”
Michael Metge –“This morning I gave Cyril my word I’d give him some ‘prefect’ tyres this evening and I’m proud to say I was able to keep that promise. I started off really slowly, perhaps too slowly, and then found an optimum pace using the ‘berms’ left by the riders in front of me so as to keep my speed as constant as possible and stay off the brakes. The other big positive from today was the route designed by David Castera, which was just amazing. Today we went to places you could only ever go on a motorcycle, preferably a trials bike, and it was a unique experience. And just to top it all, apart from swapping over our wheels, Cyril and I have very little to do to the bikes. We’ll do our road books now and then change the oil when it cools down a little.”
Joan Barreda – This has been a really exceptional special, one like the Dakar has never seen before. Not only for the altitude but also for the hills and the steep slopes that we have had to endure. It was like a trial. In second gear, revved up, then stopping for breath before taking off again. A real trial run where you just had to try and not make any mistakes and keep up the concentration. The navigation was really tough and at no time did I really stop to see if I was on the right path. We crossed a few rivers at the start. I caught up with Chaleco and then Sam, who I saw had taken the wrong route. From then on I did the rest of the special on my own. In the final few kilometres on the way down I was able to open the throttle until the end. It really was a difficult one for everyone.
Sam Sunderland – For a while I opened the way, but I had a fall on a very steep slope. I lost a lot of time looking for the right route… at 4000 metres you get a bit disoriented. I found Gonçalves who was waiting for a helicopter to help Faria and we rode together. I fell several times as well as getting lost a lot. It’s an experience that we will have to learn from.
Paulo Goncalves – I was up at an altitude of 4,500 metros with Sunderland and Grabham and we couldn’t find the right way. Grabham took a path which wasn’t the right one and we followed him. We lost loads of time looking for the right one. I realize that my Dakar is over. From now on I’ll be focused on helping out Joan Barreda.
Laia Sanz – ” It has been an extreme step, very technical and enduro, with lots of stone and very difficult climbs. Here you found missing pilots, bikes on the floor … Anyway, I fear there will be a few dropouts today , “explained the best woman in the Dakar on arrival at Camp San Juan. Laia might even have improved the 20th position that has crossed the goal but for breakage support Iritrack 25 kilometers from the finish. ” I had to stop about 15 or 20 minutes to try to secure it with cable ties. I get angry because that I will have lost some position and until then I was riding behind Israel Esquerre, who finished 12th. Anyway, I’m super happy with how I solved step and result ranking , “celebrates the pluricampeona, which now occupies the 20th place overall. spite of this extraordinary result, the ‘Queen of Dakar’ claims to have driven ” with caution to avoid damaging the bike or the tire overspend because today we do not have all the assists and is tomorrow’s stage. I think that has allowed me to find the right pace for me and sail well, today was not easy. I hesitated only a way point, but I quickly found the way . ” Tomorrow the second part of the marathon stage will be played, with the fourth day of the rally, between San Juan and Chilecito. Pilots have 353 competitive kilometers and another 210 link. ” It will be another key day that will take good care tires “concludes Laia Sanz.
From KTM – Red Bull KTM Factory Racing riders faced a physically and tactically tough day on Tuesday for Stage 3 of the 2014 Dakar Rally, which saw the team’s most experienced rider, Marc Coma home in third and maintaining third place in the overall standings.
Coma came in behind Stage winner Joan Barreda and old rival Cyril Despres and registered 6 minutes 56 behind the leader. He is currently 13 minutes 04 off Barreda overall lead time.
Next fastest KTM rider on Tuesday was Frenchman David Casteu at number five, followed by Coma’s teammate Chaleco Lopez at sixth. Stefan Svitko of Slovakia and KTM supported rider Kuba Przygonski of Poland finished eighth and ninth to give KTM five of the top 10 places.
KTM Factory rider Jordi Viladoms of Spain was eleventh home, trailing the leader by 21.21 and KTM’s South African support rider Riaan van Niekerk was thirteenth at 28.15. Following the stage, competitors are isolated in the bivouac following the first half of this marathon stage and are not available for comment.
Australian KTM-supported rider Ben Grabham, who delivered two very strong rides in the first stages, came in very late in the stage and he is now is in overall thirty-third place. He and some of the other riders took the wrong valley and had to retrace their tracks to arrive at the finish.
Red Bull KTM Factory rider Ruben Faria crashed and is out of the rally. Faria of Portugal was reported by the team to be okay, but it was a disappointing end to his bid for a top position. He was third overall in the 2013 edition.
Even though organizers decided to shorten the timed special it was still a very big day in the 2014 edition as riders negotiated their way between San Rafael and San Juan. The bikes started at the 130 km point on the original route, making the distance of the timed special 143 km plus 292 of liaison to make up the day’s ride.
Riders also had their first taste of the mountains as they climbed to 4300 meters during the special, traversing on a ridgeline with spectacular views before a sharp descent to the bivouac.
Tuesday’s ride tested both competitors’ technical skills and tactical guile on what was the first part of the first marathon stage. It was not only vigorous physically but they also had to ride smart to preserve tires and bikes for the second half of the marathon. They are not permitted mechanical assistance or new tires overnight.