Yamaha’s Cyril Despres won his first stage of this year’s Dakar Rally today, the defending race champion also giving Yamaha its first victory of the 2014 Dakar Rally.

Despres, the three-time winner of Dakar who made the switch from KTM to Yamaha in the off-season, took over the lead fairly early in today’s eighth stage when he passed early leader Helder Rodrigues. From there he took it to the finish, beating Honda’s Joan Barreda by two minutes and 10 seconds in the 286-mile stage that took the riders into Chile for the first time in the race.

While Despres could celebrate his first stage win with his new team, his rival Marc Coma was celebrating yet another consistent day in the rally. Coma rode his Red Bull KTM to third in the stage behind Despres and Barreda, losing only six seconds to Barreda in the overall standings. After eight stages, Coma now leads the rally by 38 minutes and eight seconds over the Honda rider.

Despres, meanwhile, is eighth overall – two hours and 23 minutes behind.

Rodrigues and his KTM held on to finish fourth in today’s stage, the Spaniard’s best result of this year’s race.

Yamaha’s day got even better with Despres’ teammate Olivier Pain finishing fifth on the day, the Frenchman moving up to fifth in the overall standings. Speedbrain’s Jeremias Israel Esquerre is fourth overall.

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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.

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