Somewhat fittingly, Chile’s Francesco “Chaleco” Lopez won the first fully Chilean stage of the Dakar Rally today, the Tamarugal Racing XC KTM rider takng his second stage win of this year’s rally and the eighth stage victory of his Dakar career.
Lopez took over at the front when early leader Paolo Goncavles had a technical problem 206 miles into today’s stage from Arica to Calama in Chile. From there it was all Lopez in the long (276 miles of special stage with 180 miles of link) and his result today bumped him up two spots in the overall standings from sixth to fourth.
The overall lead is still held by Yamaha’s Olivier Pain, but Red Bull KTM’s Cyril Despres cut into the margin today as he moved from third overall to second. With Despres finishing third in today’s sixth stage and Pain dropping to 10th, the pair are separated by just two minutes and 22 seconds.
Pain’s teammate David Casteau finished 15th in today’s stage and lost second plaace in the overall standings to Despres. Still, Casteau is third overall – four minutes and 48 seconds behind his teammate.
Despres’ factory KTM teammate Ruben Faria finished second in today’s stage six and he’s now fifth overall.
Californian Kurt Caselli had his best day of this year’s Dakar, the Red Bull KTM rider finishing the stage in fourth place and vaulting to 12th in the overall standings in his Dakar debut.
Honda’s Johnny Campbell, meanwhile, also had a good day, the veteran off-roader finishing today’s stage in 24th.