Dakar 6 – Cyril Despres takes it


Despres making it all look so easy …

Stage 6 of the 2009 Dakar saw French rider Cyril Despres (KTM) taking the win on the day, his first stage victory this year and 17th in his career. He was two minutes ahead of Spaniard Marc Coma (KTM), who retained his overall lead, and Spaniard Jordi Viladoms (KTM).

Overall, Coma leads American Jonah Street (KTM) (Street had navigation problems and lost about 15 minutes), and Frenchman David Frétigné (Yamaha), who is leading in the 450 cc category. Frétigné continues to be the only non-KTM rider in the top 10.

The day started late, the organizers giving some extra sleep time after yesterday’s difficult stage, and also to figure out a way to change a water crossing. Despite the high desert through which the rally is travelling, recent rains have made a mess of many gullies and rivers are flowing higher than usual.

Despres said, "That’s two good days I’ve had now. It’s a memory to cherish, because it hasn’t always been the case for me this year. It was wonderful.

"I had a lot of fun. Of course, when you can see the tracks from a long way off, you try and take short cuts here and there to gain a few seconds. I rode the race well today".

The route on Friday January 9 takes the competitors 816 km across the Chilean border on roads as high as 3,000 metres, after crossing another series of exhausting flour-consistency sand dunes. They’ll end up on the sea at Valparaiso, before heading north toward the forbidding Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth.

On the car side of things, Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah and Tina Thorner (BMW) took the stage and held onto their overall lead. The manufacturers’ chase in the car side isn’t nearly as one-sided as KTM’s stranglehold on the bike classes: BMW, Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Hummer, and Nissan all have teams in the top 10, separated top to bottom by three hours.

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