Stage Ten of the 2014 Dakar Rally, a 688 km ride from Iquique to Antofogasta, started with a descent down the dunes towards the Pacific, where more dunes and plenty of fesh fesh lay ahead — for those unfamiliar with Rally or Baja, fesh fesh is a sticky, talcum fine sand that has been eroded over time, leaving surfaces extremely slippery and at times, acting like a sand trap.
Undoubtedly the Factory Honda Team is celebrating today as teammates Joan Barreda and Helder Rodrigues took the first and second place victories on today’s tough stage.
Despite a 15-minute penalty yesterday for speeding, Joan Barreda continues to gnaw away at his fellow Spaniard and overall leader Marc Coma, giving him his fourth stage win of this year’s rally and closing the gap between them to 44:24.
“It’s not easy to win four stages. I’m happy because it followed the trend of the rally so far, with a nice feeling, lots of speed and good navigation,” said Barreda. “We’ll see how it goes tomorrow. It’ll be difficult again because there’ll be lots of kilometers and the dunes of Copiapó. The day after that will also be tough. We’ll see, we’re getting closer. Nothing is lost yet. Marc [Coma] has a sizeable lead, but anything can happen.”
Taking second in todays’ stage, Helder Rodrigues of Portugal is pushing his way towards the front of the pack on his Honda CRF 450 Rally, coming in 7:42 behind Barreda, Rodrigues now occupies fifth place overall.
“It was a very good day. I pulled out all the stops because I knew I can still climb a few places in the general classification,” said Rodrigues. “A rider dropped out today, and there’s still lots of space for things to happen. I’m going very fast right now, I caught up with the leaders and kept up with them, everything’s going smoothly now.”
Yamaha’s Cyril Despres continues to show us why he is five-time Dakar winner. Despite several debilitating setbacks, and seeing his chance at a sixth Dakar dissolve, Despres has pushed forward, and placed third in todays’ stage and sixth overall.
“It was quite fun…we went fast, which is good for me, in the overall,” said Despres. “This moves me back up the classification, I don’t know how far I’ll get, but I’m trying.”
Top 10 from Stage 10: Iquique to Antofagasta:
2014 Dakar Rally Overall Standings after Stage 10:
Source: Dakar; Photo: HRC