Dakar 9 – La Serena to Copiapo

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Dutchman Frans Verhoeven (KTM) took his second stage of the Dakar Rally Monday January 12, putting himself in eighth overall in the bike category. It was a tight day, characterized by a mix of dunes and rocks that put a premium on navigation; the top five riders finished within 10 minutes of one another. There were only two withdrawals today, one of them being American Jonah Street who took the fifth stage and was second overall at that point.

The overall leader is still KTM factory rider Marc Coma, who was fourth today. David Frétigné (Yam) was second on the day and remains second overall, while Coma’s KTM team-mate Cyril Depres was fifth on the day to maintain third overall. Local Chilean hero Francesco Lopez collected third on the day to haul himself up to fourth overall.

Winner Verhoeven said, "This morning, I set off 33rd because I struggled a bit Sunday after I broke my navigation tools … At the start it was difficult because the sun was rising, there was dust in the mountains and still a bit of fog. I didn’t take too many risks, but afterwards when I could see better, I really went for it."

Frétigné said, "It was a stage for navigating and very hard. 430 kilometres for a special stage is very long. There was a bit of everything in this stage, and no room for error. We kept moving from one valley to another. There were lots of off-track sections with dunes and stones. This morning I didn’t want to ride too quickly."

"Today was a typical day of rally-raid…" said overall leader Coma. "In fact, it reminded me a lot of certain types of terrain in Morocco. Early on, we came quite close to the sea and there were tracks everywhere – and it wasn’t easy to find the right one! Me, Chalico (Lopez) and Cyril (Despres) rode much of the day together, occasionally joined by Frétigné."

On the car side, the VW Touregs continue to dominate, with Spaniard Carlos Sainz and French co-driver Michel Perrin are even more comfortably leading overall after another stage victory today. They’re 20 and 23 minutes ahead of their team-mates, with fourth and fifth being each another half-hour back.

Natural Causes

The Dakar Rally competitor found dead on part of the second stage died from natural causes, an autopsy report has shown.

French rider Pascal Terry’s body was found seated in a shady spot approximately 50 feet from his WR450F with his helmet off. The Yamaha rider was equipped with food and water.

The cause of death was due to pulmonary edema, according to the autopsy. The forensic report also said Terry’s body showed no signs of injury or dehydration.

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