Dakar 2012 race officials have adjusted times for riders trapped in mud on Stage 8, one of which was KTM factory rider Cyril Despres. According to the adjusted times, KTM’s Marc Coma still wins the stage and leads the rally but he is now just one minute 26 seconds ahead of Despres in the overall standings.
The two KTM riders have so far dominated the 2012 edition of the rally but the stage saw Despres and other riders bogged down in mud that had not been marked on the road book that guides riders. Cyril Despres, overall leader at the half way mark of the rally had to sacrifice around 12 minutes in his efforts to extract himself from the hazard, while teammate Marc Coma was not as badly affected. It was Coma’s twentieth Dakar Stage victory in his career and the fourth in the 2012 edition. Both he and Despres are vying for their fourth Dakar title.
Speaking from the bivouac after the stage, Alex Doringer, Team Manager for the KTM Factory Team said that while KTM welcomed the race officials’ decision to compensate the riders and reinstate times, the company felt that Coma should have also had some time credited because he was also affected, if to a lesser degree than his teammate. “We welcome the fact that Cyril’s times have been reinstated, but we feel that if this decision was based on sporting fairness, then Marc’s time should also have been adjusted,” Doringer said.
The mud had occurred in between the time that the official inspection of the stage had taken place and the actual start of the stage and this was the reason it was not marked on the road book.
The eighth stage, the first after the one rest day at Copiapo in Chile included the longest timed special in the 2012 edition, taking riders 477 km. It was set between two liaison stretches that took them to 3,000 meters above sea level. Riders were on their bikes for a massive 722 km by the time they got to the finish at Antofagasta on the Chilean coast.
In the day’s standings KTM factory rider Rubin Faria was second to Coma and after the time adjustment, Portugal’s Helder Rodrigues moved into third place. Cyril Despres ranked ninth but he and Coma still dominate the overall standings. Rodrigues is third overall but he trails the two KTM riders by some 49 minutes.
Coma said at the end of the ride that he had been lucky to avoid the mud that reversed the fortunes of his teammate. “It was a very long special,” he said. “I was lucky not to lose too much time in the mud and then I saw I could open a gap, so I attacked really hard. This is my 20th special victory. That’s a nice figure but it’s not winning the special that count, it’s winning the race. And I know there is still a long week of racing ahead.” Coma had put himself in the lead at the day’s first Way Point and gradually built on it throughout the day.
**Stage Eight results and standings amended after race officials adjust times
1, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM 5 hours 03:52
2, Rubin Faria, Portugal, KTM at 7:00 minutes
3, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha at 7:10
4, Joan Barreda Bort, Spain, Husqvarna at 8:44
5, Stefan Svitko, Slovakia, KTM at 9:09
6, Cyril Despres, France, KTM at 9:14
7, Joan Pedrero, Spain, KTM at 10:31
9, Jordi Viladoms, Spain, KTM at 12:35
10, Johnny Aubert, France KTM at 13:50
10, Alessandro Botturi, Italy at 15:36
Adjusted Overall Results after Stage Eight
1, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM 23 hours 24 minutes 18 seconds
2, Cyril Despres, France, KTM at 1 minute 26
3, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha at 49:01
4, David Casteu, France, Yamaha at 1:09:52
5, Paolo Goncalves, Portugal, Husqvarna at 1:12:11
6, Jordi Viladoms, Spain, KTM at 1:12:27
7, Gerard Farres Guell, Spain, KTM at 1:15:35
8, Stefan Svitko, Slovakia, KTM at 1:18:40
9, Joan Pedrero, Spain, KTM 1:26:31 (15 minutes penalty)
11, Alessandro Botturi, Italy, KTM at 1:41:58
12, Pal Anders Ullevalseter, Norway at 1:48:53 (40 minutes penalty)
13, Rubin Faria, Portugal, KTM, 1:59:31 (40 minutes penalty)
15, Felipe Zanol, Brazil, KTM at 2:22:10 (40 minutes penalty)
17, Johnny Aubert, France, KTM at 2:54.11