Dakar : Motorbikes - Leg 10
Heavy fog delayed the start of today's Dakar Rally leg by over two and a half hours as the conditions prevented medical and tracking helicopters from safely flying.
Once the fog lifted and everyone had spent the extra free time either enjoying
sleep or talking, the racing resumed under slightly cloudy skies for a 490-kilometre run looping around Copiapo, Chile.
Fifth at the start, it took about 100km for Cyril Després to overtake the four bikers ahead: Verhoeven, Frétigné, Coma and Lopez. In fact, Després was leading the stage at the first four checkpoints.
The situation then changed radically at the 300-kilometre mark. Riding at the front, Després took the wrong route; with Marc Coma and Francisco Lopez tagging along in the dust, it took a while before they realised their common mistake...
In the meantime, Jordi Viladoms and Alain Duclos were clearly making the best of their fellow contenders' situation: with the path wide open, they signed fastest times and built a nice stage lead on the rally's temporarily disoriented leaders.
There still remained dunes to cross at the far end of the itinerary, but the stage's leading duo got through without any major complications, giving Jordi Viladoms the opportunity to sign his first stage win on this South American Dakar Rally.
"When I reached the last pit stop, I saw that Marc (Coma) was no longer there," reported Viladoms. "I didn't know if something happened. I thought he could have had a problem.
"And in the last 10 kilometres, it became completely crazy," he continued. "I was riding with Coma, Després and Duclos. When I reached the end and when I saw that I could follow Marc (Coma) and Cyril (Després), all my concerns disappeared."
"It feels really good and I'm satisfied," said the stage-winning Viladoms.
The Spaniard finished 1'06" ahead of Alain Duclos and held a 2'07" lead on Pal Anders Ullevalseter when he completed the stage.
Tuesday's seventh-placed motorbiker, Marc Coma, is still solidly leading the event with an advantage of 1:24'50" on David Frétigné. The overall gap between Frétigné and Després now stands at less than seven minutes.
"A very tough stage... very complicated," stated Coma. "It got really complicated with navigation. I misinterpreted a note and lost a lot of time. Then I found the right pace in the part I found the most difficult to ride in my entire life. I am glad I did."
"It was important to spend a day like this not losing one's head," he added.