Stage Eleven, from Antofagasta to El Salvador, proved to be the most challenging stage of the 2014 Dakar Rally, and saw riders pushed to their limits as they spent nearly seven hours on their bikes, battling rivers and the infamous Dunes of Copiapo.
As we enter the final stages of the 2014 Dakar rally, this is still anyone’s game as the stage and overall leaders have begun to shuffle.
The two French teammates of the Yamaha Factory Racing took today’s stage, placing first and second. Cyril Despres took first with a stage time of 6:38:59 with his teammate, Olivier Pain, following a close second at 2:37 behind.
“Well it was just a long day, a really long day. We came across every type of terrain: Sand dunes, twisty, rocky track sections…It isn’t possible to do it without a good physical condition and the Yamaha today worked really perfectly,” said Despres. “I’m just surprised at how we can get to the finish with just this kind of tire. It’s just impossible to understand.” Today’s stage win pushed Olivier into fourth place overall, with Despres now a close sixth.
“The main thing today was to not lose too much time to Cyril or Helder, who are my main rivals. I also wanted to gain as much as possible on Jordi, to try and aim for 3rd place,” said Olivier. “A lot can still happen tomorrow. With a fairly small difference in time, you can end up on the podium…or in seventh place, and I don’t want to finish in seventh place!”
Jordi Viladoms of Spain, finishing 3:02 behind Despres, which moves him into striking position, after taking third today and moving into third position overall.
On his way to El Salvador today, Joan Barreda has managed to erode the gap between himself and Coma to 37:37, he remains second overall. Although Coma is in a comfortable position, he is cautious that his lead could vanish with one mistake.
“It was a very long day. I had a little fall at the start, but it wasn’t serious. After that, I tried to maintain a good pace,” said Coma. “The important thing is still being here in the race and also to be careful, because there is still one tough day left.”
Top 10 from Stage 11: Antofagasta to El Salvador:
2014 Dakar Rally Overall Results after Stage 11
Source: Dakar; Photo: Yamaha Racing