Stage win for Lopez and Aprilia in Antofagasta
PROPHET IN HIS HOMELAND, THE CHILEAN RIDER WINS THE STAGE AND GOES UP TO THE 2ND PLACE IN THE OVERALL STANDINGS, BEHIND DESPRES. CECI IS 16TH OF THE DAY AND KEEPS HIS 11TH GENERAL POSITION. THE FIRST STAGE VICTORY FOR APRILIA
IN THE DAKAR!
ANTOFAGASTA - After the fuel problems in the early days, the first victory for Aprilia in the Dakar has finally arrived: Francisco "Chaleco" Lopez wins the fifth stage of this 32nd Dakar, from Copiapo to Antofagasta. Lopez was the hero of the day; he flew over the Atacama Desert with his Aprilia RXV 4.5 during the 483 kms of the timed sector, crossing fast and stony tracks.
Chaleco reached Casteu around km 150, and then aimed to reach Coma and Despres. The Spaniard was stopped because of the explosion of his rear tire, so Lopez kept on going hard during the special, after Despres. Starting two minutes behind the Frenchman, he was thus awarded with 1'30'' ahead of the leader and 13'13'' from the 3rd place, David Fretigne at the end of the special. With this great day, Lopez has taken a huge step forward in the overall standings and is now 2nd, behind Despres.
Also Paolo Ceci, who suffered of low visibility due to fog and dust at the beginning of the special, arrived to the finish line in Antofagasta with his regular rhythm. The man from Modena is an example of constancy, and with his 16th position today, he keeps his 11th place overall, which makes him look out for the top ten. In his side, Alex Zanotti concluded today 28th, and climbed to the 35th position in the general ranking.
The Team Giofil Aprilia Racing has unfortunately lost the valuable contribution of Gerard Farres. Yesterday evening there was a technical problem with his bike that could not be resolved, reason for which the team chose not to risk any further into the long and difficult stage of today. Strong and motivated, the Spaniard, impeccable shoulder of Chaleco in these early stages, was clearly sad for his Dakar 's withdrawal, but rather think about the next Cross Country Rally World Championship, where he will have the opportunity to play a great role.
Francisco Lopez: "Today 's special was very hard and long, lots of fast tracks in the first part. After 130 kilometers I reached Casteu, so I passed and he went away. I then my target was to reach Coma and Despres, and when I saw the Spanish riders stopped for a problem with his tire and I continued to attack further to see Despres. To win here in my country is a fantastic. To do so with the Aprilia is even better."
Filippo Assirelli (Team Manager): "Finally, the victory we were waiting for. After all the work and the problems of these months and these early stages, our happiness is immense. Chaleco is a great rider, incredibly fast and here in Chile, the support from all the people is huge. But we must keep our feet on the ground. We are here to acquire more experience and the Dakar is still long."