Coma Carries On! Now with a 20-minute lead, KTM’s Marc Coma is on the home stretch with two stages left in the Dakar Rally. Photography by RallyZone Bauer/Barni.
With the overall win out of reach, HRC’s Joan Barreda is out to prove he is the fastest rider in the 2015 Dakar Rally, and for the second stage in a row, he has managed to do just that. Barreda topped the stage today, finishing 17 seconds ahead of his Honda teammate, Paulo Goncalves. Ivan Jakes rounded out the top three ahead of Ruben Faria and Toby Price on Stage 11.
Goncalves was able to gain over two minutes on KTM’s Marc Coma who still holds the lead, but it could be in vain. As the race website indicates, Goncalves performed an engine swap today, receiving the motor from his HRC teammate, Barreda. Goncalves received a 15-minute penalty for the swap-out, and though it doesn’t affect him in overall standings, it puts him that much further behind Coma. In turn, Barreda inherited an engine from Jeremias Israel, who was forced to withdraw from the race after giving up his engine to his teammate during the marathon stage.
HRC’s Joan Barreda is a man on a mission, out to prove he is the fastest rider – a feat he has now accomplished two days in a row. Photography by HRC.
“I had a problem with my engine yesterday and had to change it,” Goncalves said. “Since it was a marathon stage, of course one of our riders had to stay in Cachi. It was Jeremias Israel who gave his engine. It’s very brave to have done that. It’s the end of the race for him so I’m going to try and get the best position so that I can dedicate it to him.”
But not all hope is lost for Goncalves and the Honda team, as two more difficult stages still await riders in the Dakar Rally. “I’ve given a free 15 minutes to all my rivals. It was already difficult 7 minutes behind, but now it’s even more difficult. That said, others can also have the problem that I had yesterday, so it’s not too late to hope to finish in the top position.”
Honda’s Paulo Goncalves gave up 15 minutes by doing an engine swap today, but the HRC rider still remains firmly in second place. Photography by HRC.
The question remains whether the KTM team will elect to do an engine swap on Coma’s bike for the remaining two stages. The Honda team is likely to pull out all the stops in an effort to snatch the overall win from the four-time Dakar Rally winner.
Coma is now comfortably out front, even though he maintains he is “not thinking about the finish yet.”
“We’ve managed to get through it,” Coma said. “It’s always stressful when you have to work on the bike, but everything is okay. There is still a difficult day to compete tomorrow, then again on Saturday. We’ll see, because there are still a fair few kilometers to go, but for the moment, I’m happy.”
After declaring yesterday “the fight for the podium will be fierce. I will give it my all to defend my third place,” KTM’s Pablo Quintanilla conceded his third-place standing to Toby Price today. Price rode steady and strong as usual, but Quintanilla struggled during the marathon stage with dehydration and headaches. Despite his best efforts, Quintanilla gave up almost two minutes to Price today, and now sits fourth overall.
“The main thing is that we are nearing the finish,” said Quintanilla. “There are two stages left and I’m going to keep on fighting until the last kilometer. I didn’t feel great again today, but at the bivouac, I’m going to see the doctors.”
Faced with a podium finish in his first-ever Dakar Rally, Price admits the excitement is growing, but realizes he still has a long way to go to the finish.
Consistency has paid off for KTM’s Toby Price, who took over third place in the standings today with another strong finish on Stage 11. Photography by RallyZone Bauer/Barni.
“I can’t get too excited just yet,” Price said. “Two days is still a long way away. We’re just trying to do the best we can – stay fit and healthy, keep the bike in good shape. Today was a good, clean run with nothing crazy. That was the main goal – to look after the bike. The last two days the stages have been really good. I’m still trying to learn the navigation and there wasn’t really much navigation on the last two stages. They kind of suited me a bit more. But then there was still a good amount of danger in there. I had a couple of little moments on the first day, so I backed off and tried to just get through it. I don’t want to be going out of the race with an injury this close to the finish.”
Tomorrow is the penultimate stage of the Dakar Rally, and riders will face the longest Stage of the race. 635 miles of Argentinian terrain await, with a 185-mile (298km) special and 450-mile (726km) transfer section as riders trek from Termas de Rio Hondo to Rosario, Argentina.
Dakar Motorcycle Results – Stage 11
1. Joan Barreda (Hon)
2. Paulo Goncalves (Hon)
3. Ivan Jakes (KTM)
4. Ruben Faria (KTM)
5. Toby Price (KTM)
6. Marc Coma (KTM)
7. Pablo Quintanilla (KTM)
8. Helder Rodrigues (Hon)
9. Alain Duclos (Shr)
10. Stefan Svitko (KTM)
Provisional Standings After Stage 11
1. Marc Coma (41:43:03)
2. Paulo Goncalves (+20:12)
3. Toby Price (+31:43)
4. Pablo Quintanilla (+33:15)
5. Stefan Svitko (+48:07)
6. Ruben Faria (+1:40:43)
7. David Casteu (+1:46:51)
8. Laia Sanz (+2:13:20)
9. Ivan Jakes (+2:24:46)
10. Oliver Pain (+2:55:17)