Photo: Marcelo Maragni / Red Bull Content Pool
He didn’t win, but Marc Coma made a much better showing in Stage 3 than the previous two days, finishing second, 40 seconds behind fellow KTM rider, Dakar rookie Austrian Matthias Walkner.
Coma dominated the Dakar rally last year, but didn’t earn a podium in the first two races this year. That meant he was down a bit on the standings. He’s in fourth overall now, and will likely be in contention for first in the next few days, although upstart Walkner is now added to the list of contenders to beat.
Honda’s Joan Barreda Bort managed third in Stage 3, enough to hang on to first overall for now, 00:05:33 ahead of teammate Paulo Goncalves, who is still in second.
Both Walkner and Barreda Bort commented on the hazardous terrain in today’s stage.
“Today was easier than yesterday, but anyway, it was really dangerous because we were on river beds and a lot of stones all day and so many broken up tracks,” said Barreda Bort.
After he finished, Walkner said much the same thing. His stage win is an impressive coup, as it’s his first appearance at Dakar; he has a background as repeat motocross world champ, but he has little experience in rally racing.
“I’m just doing my best, finding my rhythm and taking it every kilometer by kilometer,” he said. “I know a little bit about how you have to ride the motorcycle from doing motocross, but the different part is the navigation and finding the good way to ride safely, to not make mistakes and go fast.”
Speaking of mistakes, Sam Sunderland, who lost a lot of time when he got off-track in Stage 2, managed to muscle his way up to 50th overall with an 11th-place finish on the day.
Once more, Alain Duclos proved he’s got what it takes to ride with the big boys, taking his Sherco to sixth place, behind fourth-place Toby Price (KTM), and fifth-place Paulo Goncalves (Honda).
The Yamaha factory team continued to struggle through Stage 3; Juan Pedrero Garcia’s tenth-place finish means the Spaniard is again their top rider. David Casteau is in 19th place, and Olivier Pain, the man who ruined Cyril Despres’ hope at a podium last year, is in 21st.
The Stage 3 route took riders from San Juan to Chilecito; the special stage was quite a bit shorter than yesterday’s marathon. Stage 2 saw riders complete a 518-km special, but Stage 3 was a more merciful 220 km. Overall, riders covered 657 km in Stage 3.
In case you’ve never spent much time there, the Dakar webpage has a lot of information about the day’s ride. You can check out an overview of the route at this page here; it shows elevations, details what terrain riders can expect, and has all sorts of other details as well. If you’ve got a few minutes of coffee break to kill, we’d recommend you check it out.
Dakar 2015 : Bike rankings after Stage 3
1. Barreda Bort (Honda) – 09:43:05
2. Goncalves (Honda) – 09:48:38 (00:05:33)
3. Walkner (KTM) – 09:53:38 (00:10:33)
4. Coma (KTM) – 09:53:55 (00:10:50)
5. Faria (KTM) – 09:55:15 (00:12:10)
6. Price (KTM) – 09:55:29 (00:12:24)
7. Viladoms (KTM) – 09:57:12 (00:14:07)
8. Israel Esquerre (Honda) – 10:01:38 (00:18:33)
9. Rodrigues (Honda) – 10:01:39 (00:18:34)
10. Pedrero Garcia (Yamaha) – 10:06:07 (00:23:02)