Dakar rally Stage 7


Cyril Despres closes gap created by earlier penalty.

At the half-way point in the Dakar Rally, Marc Coma still holds a slender lead over fellow KTM rider Cyril Despres, but Chilean Francisco Lopez Contardo is closing in slightly on his Aprila RXV450 Tuareg at 18 minutes and change behind Coma.

KTM has another four bikes in the top 10, while Yamaha has two and BMW only one.
Lopez Contardo took the day’s honours on day 7, with France’s Despres coming in second and overall leader Coma third.

The Chilean said, "It was not easy. There was a lot of dust in the beginning. I went a little faster afterwards but I lost my exhaust at mid-stage more or less. So after that, I was afraid my engine would break. Fortunately, it was the shortest special stage since the beginning of the race; if it had not been the engine would have been hit bad."

Coma has a 7 min. 24 sec. lead over Despres, the French rider closing up slightly after his 10-minute penalty earlier in the rally.

"It was a technical stage." said Coma about  Stage 7,  "There was a purely motocross part to the stage … nice but demanding. I suffered in the first part because I was behind Ruben Faria and I was getting a lot of his dust. It was hard to pass. But in the last part, the sand dunes, I could ride at my own pace."

Despres, meanwhile, said, "The rest day was a good thing for the bike and for the man. Today was one of the best days of motocross-type racing of my entire life. … Not only was it a beautiful stage, it was also a fantastic one to ride."

Fourth place in the stage went to Yamaha-mounted Helder Rodrigues, the Portuguese rider also fourth in the overall standings. Despres’ Red Bull KTM team-mate Ruben Faria was fifth today and remains fifth overall.

On the car side, things continue to be a VW vs BMW contest, with Carlos Sainz still leading fellow VW driver Nasser Saleh Al-attiyah by less than a minute and a half, with BMW’s Stephan Peterhansel 21 minutes back of the leader.

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