Red Bull KTM’s Marc Coma may be out of the running for the overall title in the Dakar Rally, but it’s not stopping the defending champion from putting out maximum effort. Today his hard riding resulted in a victory for the Spaniard in the 260-mile stage that ran from Antofagasta to Iquique in Chile.
Coma topped fellow KTM man Cyril Despres by 10 minutes and 34 seconds today and has clawed his way to fourth overall – an hour and six minutes behind Despres. Coma was dominant in the sixth stage, taking the lead at the 95-mile mark and never looking back.
Despres did what he needed to do today, beating Yamaha-mounted Helder Rodrigues by four seconds to finish second. More importantly, he beat Chile’s Francisco Lopez Contardo by almost five minutes to extend his lead in the overall standings over the Aprilia rider to 42 minutes and 15 seconds.
Lopez Contardo ended today’s stage in fourth place.
American Jonah Street was ninth in today’s stage and is seventh overall after the first six stages of the rally.
Today’s stage was marred by the serious head injuries suffered by Italian Luca Manca. Manca is intensive care at the Hospital de Cobre in the town of Calama, though he is likely to be transported to a hospital in the capital city of Santiago. It was Manca who gave his rear wheel to Coma yesterday when the defending champion suffered a flat rear tire on his KTM.
BMW-mounted Paulo Goncalves, who started today’s stage in sixth overall, was also forced out of the rally when he crashed and broke a collarbone at the 120-mile mark.