The HRC Honda-riding Spaniard won today, and has the most motorcycle stage wins in the 2014 Dakar Rally, but KTM’s Marc Coma still holds a commanding overall lead.
HRC Honda’s Joan Barreda is nothing if not resilient. The Spaniard, undaunted by the massive overall lead that he conceded to Red Bull factory KTM rider Marc Coma during Stage 4 of the 2014 Dakar Rally, took his third victory today during a significantly shortened Stage 7, which began in Salta, Argentina, and finished in Uyuni, in the neighboring country of Bolivia. Barreda finished today’s special test in 3 hours, 28 minutes and 41 seconds, 4 minutes and 3 seconds ahead of Coma. Team Yamaha’s Cyril Despres was third today, finishing minutes and 35 seconds behind Barreda, although the defending Dakar motorcycle champion is still over 2 hours and 26 minutes behind Coma. Today’s performance did move Despres back into the top 10 in the overall standings, however.
Stage 7, which was contested at an average altitude of over 3700 feet above sea level, was shortened from 401 kilometers to just 104 km due to yesterday’s rain in the Salta region, which made conditions extremely difficult for the riders. Barreda made every attempt to capitalize by attacking the stage in an attempt to gain time on Coma, but while the strategy resulted in his third stage win of the 2014 Rally, and the eighth stage win of his career, it did little to erase Coma’s overall time advantage. Coma was his usual calm and collected in the wet conditions. Starting the stage in third place, he shadowed Barreda, who started fifth, once Barreda caught and passed him.
Today’s stage was rough for Stage 6 winner, Samsung Sherco rider Alain Duclos, who struggled with navigation errors early in in Stage 7 and lost 20 minutes, thus surrenduring third overall in standings to factory KTM rider Jordi Viladoms by 32 seconds. Viladoms is still 38 minutes behind Barreda, who is 38:14 behind Coma.
Other noteworthy finishes today included the fourth-place of Stage 4 winner Juan Pedrero on the Samsung Sherco and the eighth-place finish of Portugal’s Mario Petrao, who put the Suzuki brand in the top 10 for the first time in 2014.
Stage 8 tomorrow will feature 230 kilometers of transfer sections and a 462-kilometer special test. The motorcycle route will run across and around the Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world. The route will also pass by several islands, and the Tunupa Volcano (17,388 feet altitude) will be a permanent feature on the landscape. The stage will conclude in Chile, which will host the remaining five stages of the 2014 Dakar Rally.
2014 Dakar Rally
Salta, Argentina-Uyuni, Bolivia
Results: January 12, 2014
1. Juan Barreda-Hon/03:28:41
2. Marc Coma-KTM/+00:04:03
3. Cyril Despre-Yam/+00:05:35
4. Juan Pedrero-She/+00:06:57
5. Kuba Pryzgonski-KTM/+00:08:56
6. Jeremias Israel-Spe/+00:10:04
7. Helder Rodrigues-Hon/+00:10:57
8. Mario Patrao-Suz/+00:11:27
9. Olivier Pain-Yam/+00:11:27
10. Jordi Viladoms-KTM/+00:11:57
Dakar Rally Standings (After Stage 7 of 13)
1. Marc Coma-KTM/26:40:04
2. Juan Barreda-KTM/+00/38:14
3. Jordi Viladoms-KTM/+01:16:13
4. Alain Duclos-She/+01:16:35
5. Jeremias Israel-Spe/+01:39:29
6. Olivier Pain-Yam/+01:50:42
7. Kuba Pryzgonski-KTM/+01:54:52
8. Helder Rodrigues-Hon/+02:08:18
9. David Casteu-KTM/+02:23:50
10. Cyril Despres-Yam/+02:26:13