The following is from Repsol KTM…
Experts said last night that the true Dakar would begin today, on the longest and toughest leg of the rally, with the added complication of navigation and where even the smallest mistake could mean the loss of a substantial amount of time, some said hours. With a 616km special section in the third leg of this year`s Dakar 2009, linking Puerto Madryn with the mining town of Jacobacci, the Repsol KTM team`s three riders got a great result.
Marc Coma, who started 17th today after oil radiator problems yesterday, won the special section with authority, beating the second placed rider, Ullevalseter, by a little over 17 minutes. Today`s special section, 616km long was completed by the Repsol rider in 5 hours, 18 minutes and 17 seconds. Thanks to this result Coma is in a stronger position at the top of the overall classification, and now leads with a gap of 39 minutes and 11 seconds over the French rider David Fretigne in second place.
Jordi Viladoms, who did some good teamwork with Coma today, lowered his pace just after the start to wait for his teammate and so continue the rest of the special together, finished third with the same time as the Norwegian Ullevalseter. Thanks to this performance Viladoms has risen in the overall and is now sixth, 47 minutes and 17 seconds behind his teammate.
Gerard Farrés, the third member of the Team Repsol KTM, is getting better as the days go by. If his tyre problems sent him way down the field on the first day the young Repsol rider is recovering from his bad start and today was the fifth fastest on the leg, a little over a minute behind his teammate Viladoms. Thanks to this time Farrés has climbed to 55th in the overall, 2 hours and 50 minutes behind Marc Coma.
Today`s stage between Puerto Madryn and Jacobacci, was at an altitude of between 1 000m and 1 500 metres. The start was very fast but the climb got steeper bit by bit and at the same time there was an important change in the type of terrain, from sand to stones. The mountainous tracks with hard ground forced the riders to protect their tyres from punctures and there werre many kilometres of very technical riding.
Tomorrow`s leg, number four, is between Jacobacci and Neuquen, with a liaison at the start of just 4km and a special section of 459km. and then the second liaison of 25km. to Neuquen. Many wadis (dry river beds) and similar are expected, these are formed after torrential downpours. The terrain will be very stony, with large round boulders, and a lot of cross-country. The riders willl also come across sand dunes, and in general will be very demanding physically.
“This was a very long special section, one of the longest in the Rally. The first part was very technical, but apart from that I was a bit worried as I started quite far down the field and dust is always inconvenient. Luckily it was windy and it helped me find my own pace.
“I felt fine and I was able to control the wear on the tyre since the stage was very long, with a lot of stones and fast. I was able to overtake some riders and in the end got a good result. We have been racing three days and a lot of things have happened. On the one hand because we do not know the terrain and the zone. In Africa we knew what we were going to come across and were able to anticipate the situation a little. In this rally everything is totally new, and that means that the teams have to make their tactics in a sort of void. Starting tomorrow and until the rest day we have some very tough days ahead of us.”
“I am very pleased because all the possible options that were suggested yesterday about today`s stage were more optimistic and everything has gone well. I did not expect this and I cannot ask for more. Marc [Coma] arrived from behind and from the first CP we rode together till we reached the leading group.
“Then we got ahead of them and so it was to the finish. We set a fast pace and after some time in the lead we started to take care with the engines and to protect the tyres. At the following CP we saw how everything was going well for us, there were many riders with problems, and towards the end we decided to up the pace a little.”
“The special section went very well. I did not start so far back as yesterday, I started in 22nd position. Things went better as I did not come across so much dust and I was able to overtake without too many problems. We were on fast tracks, without any navigation,and things went well. I just wanted to protect the tyres in the rocky zones, so as not to ruin things, concentrating on finishing the stage without any serious problems. This was the key to finishing, take things calmly and to ride while keeping your eyes wide open all the time.”
1. Marc COMA (TEAM REPSOL KTM) 5:18:17
2. Pal ULLEVALSETER (KTM) + 17:49
3. Jordi VILADOMS (TEAM REPSOL KTM) + 17:49
4. David CASTEU (KTM) + 18:16
5. Gerard FARRÉS (TEAM REPSOL KTM) + 18:42
1. Marc COMA (TEAM REPSOL KTM) 10:31:49
2. David FRETIGNE (YAMAHA) + 39:11
3. Pal ULLEVALSETER (KTM) + 42:25
4. Jacek CZACHOR (KTM) + 43:21
5. Jonah STREET (KTM) + 44:36
6. Jordi VILADOMS (TEAM REPSOL KTM) + 47:17