KTM factory riders Marc Coma and Cyril Despres continued their dominance in stage 13 of the Dakar 2009, with Coma in the overall lead with a comfortable margin over Despres, who notched up another stage win just before riders head for Buenos Aires.

Heavy overnight rain in the La Rioja and Cordoba region caused organizers to slim down the program to just 220 km of special, and Despres (Red Bull KTM) came in ahead of Coma (Repsol KTM), with David Frétigné third. In French, the language of the bivouac, there's an expression which roughly translated says: “those with no problems have no story to tell.” So it is with Marc Coma who, with just one day of racing left, remains solidly installed at the top of the rankings 1 hour, 28 minutes and 3 seconds ahead of Despres, with Frétigné third at 1:34:47).

“There was no real navigation today, just a nice smooth track,” Coma said. “It was a little slippery, so you couldn't go too fast - and anyway there was no point taking any risks. Clearly, going into the last stage, I have a good position, but here is not like Lac Rose, where there is just a short 20 kilometer special. Tomorrow we will have a proper stage and so I need to stay concentrated. We have learned from what happened in 2007 and won't make the same mistake again. [In 2007 Coma, who looked a sure winner going into the final stage of the Dakar in Africa then crashed and had to withdraw, leaving the glory to Despres.]

“I started this morning with only a slim lead over Frétigné, so I had no choice but to attack a little,” Despres said. “The special was pure WRC - nice smooth corners where you could let the back end of the bike hang out and have some fun. A couple of times I was surprised by rocks in the middle of the track, but apart from that no problems.”

Riders at last embark on the final stage of their journey that has taken them through a large part of Argentina and Chile and has confronted them with a whole range of always-challenging landscapes. Stage 14, comprises a liaison of 224 km, a timed special of 227 km and a final 324 km liaison back to the Argentine capital where they started this unique adventure back in January 3, 2009.

Provisional results after Stage 13

1. Cyril Despres, France, KTM

2. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM

3. David Fretigne, France, Yamaha

4. Jordi Viladoms, Spain, KTM

5. David Casteu, France, KTM

6. Alain Duclos, France, KTM

7. Jose Helio Rodrigues Filho, Brazil, Honda

8. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, KTM

9. Pal Anders Ullevalseter, Norway, KTM

10. Frans Verhofen, Netherlands, KTM

Provisional overall standings after Stage 13

1. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM

2. Cyril Despres, France, KTM

3. David Fretigne, France, Yamaha

4. David Casteu, France, KTM

5. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, KTM

6. Pal Anders Ullevalseter, Norway, KTM

7. Jordi Viladoms, Spain, KTM

8. Frans Verhofen, Netherlands, KTM

9. Henk Knuiman, Netherlands, KTM

10. Paulo Goncalves, Portugal, Honda

34. Alain Duclos, France, KTM

Dakar Rally News


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