While Marc Coma continues to lead Cyril Despres – and indeed the rest of the top rankings didn’t change after Stage 9 – American Jonah Street finally had a good day, overcoming misfortunes so far this year to score the second stage victory of his Dakar career.
In fact, it was a great day for non-KTM leaders, as Dutchman Frans Verhoeven (BMW, 25th overall) and Sherco Rider David Casteu (France, 39th overall) followed Street in.
Unlike other Dakar stages, this one started in groups. Street described his day thusly: "I had to start in the third wave, which was good and bad; good that everyone up front knew their position and were taking it easy and I got to charge through. “
“The second wave caught everybody in the second to last sand dunes. Then in the last dunes, I think when there were only three bikes in front of me I went over the handlebars hard, straight into the sand, totally unannounced, but I was okay. I got back up and followed them in, because I figured that I started two waves behind them so I was doing alright. Today we didn’t have any bike problems, everything went really smooth, so I’m happy.”
Overall leader Coma was only ninth on the day, but second-place Despres was seventh, and only made up a minute and five seconds on the Spanish rider. He was the top KTM rider, a real shake-up from every other day on the rally so far.
Coma said, "With the grouped start and the fog, the start of the stage and the navigation was very difficult. In the first group, we got lost, turning right when we shouldn’t have. When we got back on track the second wave caught up with us. It was a bit of a mess. After that, a group of around 20 quick riders formed and we managed to ride the rest of the stage normally. But in the end, it was a difficult day."
Despres also had navigation issues: "After the start, we didn’t stay grouped for a long time because at the 17 km point Helder Rodrigues took a wrong direction and we all followed him. So, we turned round and ran straight into the second wave of starters. We were all riding in each other’s dust. It was a bit of a strange stage really."
Stage 10 takes the rally back over the Andes into Argentina, mostly off-road in a combination of sandy and gravelled terrain, including a heavily-duned area called Fiambala. The special stage is only 176 km, but the day will be a long one at 862 km total.