All seven remaining KTM factory riders in top ten.
KTM team boss Hans Trunkenpolz has expressed satisfaction with his factory riders as the Dakar Rally pauses for a well-earned rest day. KTM factory riders occupy the top six places in the overall standings and all seven
remaining in the competition are in the top ‘With that score one can only be happy,' Trunkenpolz summarised.
The eighth rider, Jordi Viladoms (KTM Repsol) was forced to retire after a crash Friday but is doing well after treatment.
Until this point in the rally, KTM has secured all stage wins except the first two in Portugal. Marc Coma (KTM Repsol) is leading the overall standings, Isidre Esteve Pujol (KTM Gauloises) is right on his tail just 10.47 behind. American Chris Blais, the sole rider in the Red Bull KTM team is lying sixth. The first five riders are all within an hour of each other. In the Dakar, however, it's never over until its over and anything can happen, but at this stage it looks very promising that a KTM factory team bike with be the winner.
Trunkenpolz is particularly pleased that the team spirit is so positive in both the Repsol and the Gauloises teams. ‘I consider the marathon stage for the bikes as the best moment of the first week, because you could see how well the teams are working together and how well the riders are looking after each other. In the blue team both Esteve and Despres had a crash and were assisted by their team mates Casteu and Verhoeven, who repaired the bikes and helped them to keep riding. I was a bit afraid of that marathon stage, because there was no assistance at all, but it worked out very well.'
A lesser moment was the crash of Jordi Viladoms (KTM Repsol) on Friday. The young Spaniard won Thursday's stage, but on Friday he was airlifted by hospital by helicopter with a fractured elbow, wrist and ankle. ‘A sad day,' Trunkenpolz said. ‘Jordi was doing very well and it's a pity we lost him as support for Marc Coma. It is clear that the Repsol team has lost some power, although with Sala, Marc should be okay.
Vilodoms having to abandon was one of the few difficult moments. The fact that one of the T4-trucks is out of the race was another one. Without Sadlauers' truck there is only one truck remaining to assist the riders. ‘On the piste there is no problem, for now. But with the marathon stage in Tichit coming up, that might be a bit more difficult than it should be. Casteu and Verhoeven will have to do some more mechanical work, but they have proved to be able to do that.'
Trunkenpolz is taking the positive approach to the second week of the classic. There is very little time difference between the top placed riders. The stages will be tough and demanding. ‘That is where ambitious riders can make the difference, although I hope they will not take too many risks. I'm happy when I see everybody back in the bivouac at night. That's the most important thing for me. Over the last few years we have lost good riders and it is always a major shock when something like that happens.'