Red Bull KTM’s three-time winner of the world’s toughest rally on Tuesday bagged his second stage win in this year’s edition of the Dakar. Coma finished ahead of Joan Barreda and old rival Cyril Despres to edge further ahead in the overall standings as the competition enters Chile.
Coma, who has been suffering from a cold these past days felt better on Tuesday and delivered a great controlled ride, taking over the lead in the latter part of the stage. He said at the finish it had been “very fast and very nice”. He is now in front by 40 minutes 19.
Coma’s factory teammate Jordi Viladoms also had a good day to finish sixth and consolidate his third overall position. He now has a good 30-minute advantage over fourth placed Chilean rider Esquerre.
Viladoms: “I think I’m in a good position and I want to hold onto that until the end. Now we know this landscape. The first week we were in the mountains and in new places but I like it, even if it is not easy to ride here. We must keep 100 percent concentration because there are still some difficult days ahead.”
Meanwhile KTM-supported rider Kuba Przygonski of Poland (literally) bounced back after a crash to finish a creditable thirteenth in the stage and is now seventh overall.
Przygonski: “The first day in Chile was hard for me because I had a big crash. I hit some stone with my rear wheel. Then it was like a MotoGP crash. I was sliding along the ground and so was my bike. That was good for me but bad for the bike and when I stood up the exhaust was totally out. I had to repair it and I lost about 10-12 minutes. But its good that I’m on the finish line and tomorrow I’ll be pushing.”
It was also an eventful day for KTM-supported rider Riaan van Niekerk of South Africa, seventeenth in the stage and holding at thirteenth overall.
Van Niekerk: “It was very dusty, I remember that from last year. Just fesh-fesh (very fine powdered sand) and dusty roads. The navigation was critical. It’s difficult to navigate from the road book because you have to concentrate on where you’re going. I made a small error and after five-six km I had to turn around and find my way back. But it’s a day in the bank and we’ll look forward to tomorrow.”
Speaking about the stage, KTM Factory Team Manager Alex Doringer said it had been a good day for his riders and for the new KTM 450 RALLY bike. “Marc won the stage and that’s fantastic. The lead is getting bigger. He feels good so tomorrow he starts in front and he can play a smart game. We are also in third overall and the gap is around 30 minutes so Jordi (Viladoms) is in a good position.
“Riaan (van Niekerk) is doing a great job. With what he learned from last year to this year, you can see him improving. He has to continue like this but the most important is that he arrives safe every day and he’s doing a great job.
“Kuba (Przygonski) did well to arrive at the bivouac after his crash because the bike didn’t look so good. But he’s okay and no injuries and that’s always the most important thing. Tomorrow he’ll attack again.”
Just 83 of the original 196 bikes started Stage Nine and many riders were still suffering from the after effects of the tough marathon stage and overnighting at high altitude in Bolivia.
The stage took riders into the dunes of the Atacama Desert for the 422 km timed special, finishing the day’s ride at the infamous Iquique dune. They then had a heart-stopping 30%-steep drop over the final three kilometers down to get their first look at the Pacific Ocean.
In Stage 10 riders go south from Iquique to Antofagasta over a 58 km liaison and another 631 km of timed special.
Results Stage 9 (unofficial)
Calama to Iquique – 29 km liaison, 422 km special = 451 km
1, Marc Coma, ESP, KTM 4 hours.49.05
2, Joan Barreda, ESP, Honda at 1.41
3, Cyril Despres, FRA, Yamaha at 5.28
4, Joan Pedrero, ESP, Sherco at 8.43
5, Stefan Svitko, SVK, KTM at 9.42
6, Jordi Viladoms, ESP, KTM at 11.23
8, Ivan Jakes, SVK, KTM at 13.40
13, Jakub Przygonski, POL, KTM at 19.10 16, David Casteu, FRA, KTM 33.47
17, Riaan van Niekerk, ZAF, KTM at 35.12
Overall after Stage 9
1, Coma, 36:56.24
2, Barreda at 40.19
3, Villadoms at 1:38.45
4, Esquerre at 2:07.06
5, Olivier Pain, FRA, Yamaha, 2:16.10
7, Przygonski at 2:25.16
10, Casteu at 3:23.06
11, Svitko at 3:29.02
12, Jakes at 4:05.41
13, Van Niekerk at 4:17.31