Lopez Contardo Takes Stage 7 Of Dakar

Paul Carruthers | January 9, 2011

KTM went back to the top in today’s stage six of the Dakar Rally, but it wasn’t the two at the top of the overall standings who rode to victory. Instead it was Ruben Faria, the Portugese rider and his Red Bull KTM winning the stage and somewhat making up for the stage one victory that was taken away with a speeding penalty.

Faria ended up 50 seconds in front of the Yamaha of Helder Rodrigues in today’s stage that took the riders from Iquique to Arica, the most northern spot in the race and right on the border of Chile and Peru. The route consisted of 164 miles of road with 282 miles of special section with plenty of sand dunes and a first encounter with the notorious fesh-fesh – a talc-like sand that often presents trouble, but not for Faria.

“It was a very tough stage, very long and bumpy,” Faria said. “I started at my own pace, so until the refueling stop I probably lost some time. After that I accelerated. 200 km [124 miles] from the finish, I overtook Despres, Coma, Rodrigues and Chaleco. I stayed with them, so I think I should have won. As Cyril’s water carrier, I always ride sensibly, but there are times when I can take advantage of the situation. I started seventh this morning and that helped me. I think Cyril will be happy for me.”

With Rodrigues 50 seconds behind in second place today, third went to Faria’s teammate Cyril Despres, the Frenchman picking up some valuable time on overall leader Marc Coma despite running into a problem that could have derailed his chances.

“It was a very difficult stage for me. I’ve had vibrations in the engine for 220 km so the rest day will do the machine and rider a world of good,” Despres said. “I don’t know what caused it. After the refuelling point, the bike started to vibrate and I didn’t know whether to stop or not, in case the engine was going to blow. I slowed down a bit and in the end I finished at the same time as the others. Honestly, it’s a miracle that I finished. The only positive thing is that I’m here, but it was squeaky-bum time for 200 km and that’s not reassuring.”

Coma ended today in fourth, but only gave back a minute and a half to Depres in the overall standings. Coma was also given back some time yesterday and upgraded to third in the stage standings after stopping to help the injured Olivier Pain. Pain ended up being diagnosed with a broken wrist and is out of this year’s rally.

Fifth place today went to KTM-mounted Stefan Svitko in his best effort thus far.

With six stages in the books and a rest day coming up tomorrow, Coma leads Despres by eight minutes and 48 seconds in the overall standings with Francisco Lopez Contardo holding down third – but over 22 minutes behind Coma.

American Jonah Street finished 12th in today’s stage and he lies seventh in the overall standings. Quinn Cody, meanwhile, bounced back from yesterday’s off day to finish 13th in the stage. He is currently 12th overall.

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.