Cyril Despres won his fourth stage of this year’s Dakar Rally today, the Frenchman riding his Red Bull KTM to victory in the 331-mile stage that saw competitors enter Peru for the first time with the run from Arica to Arequipa. More importantly to Despres, he pulled out two minutes over his rival Marc Coma and now leads the Dakar by two minutes and 22 seconds.
”In the beginning there had been a modification to the road book and the tracks weren’t very visible,” Despres said. “I rode 100 meters too far but then I saw Marc [Coma] was turning round, even though he started two minutes in front of me. The day was a tough one and started with pushing the bike through a stream. It could be an important development to have someone between Marc and me. With [Gerard] Farres at second it’s not good for me. Tomorrow will be complicated, but anything can happen on the Dakar.”
Coma didn’t finish second in today’s stage, that honor went to Gerard Farres, the Spaniard having by far his best day ever in the rally. The KTM mounted Farres beat Coma to the finish by just 21 seconds.
“Today we had a mixture of several types of terrain,” Coma said. “It was fast hard packed earth, sandy and stony. It was predictable that Cyril would gain time on me today, but I’m going to try my utmost right until the end. There are three days left to give it everything.”
Coma was evasive regarding tactics saying: “It’s difficult to define a strategy when Cyril is riding flat out in front. I’ll just have to follow him. It won’t be flat out, but the pace will again be quick – like it has been since the beginning of the race.”
Fourth place today went to KTM factory rider Johnny Aubert, the Frenchman also enjoying his best day of this year’s rally in Stage 11. Aubert was 1:29 behind Coma and over a minute and a half clear of Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain’s Joan Barreda.
In the overall standings, Yamaha’s Helder Rodrigues remains in third place with the Portuguese rider finishing today’s stage in eighth place.
Jordi Viladoms is fourth overall on the Bordone-Ferrari KTM. The Spaniard is some 10 minutes clear of fifth-placed Stefan Svitko on the Oraving Slovnaft KTM team.