Helder Rodrigues sped his way to top line of today’s scorecard, over a 450 kilometre timed special, his second triumph thus far in the campaign. He had his work cut out, on a route that tackled broken-up paths, rocky terrain, and dirt track, requiring riders to be at their technical and navigational best just to make headway. Tucked in behind was fellow-countryman and team-mate from HRC, Paulo Goncalves, followed by overall leader Marc Coma on his Red Bull KTM. Goncalves and Coma are now separated by just 5’28”.
Joan Barreda, after conceding three hours in yesterday’s exhausting marathon, was once again back in the hunt, with the special stage heading from Iquique to Calama, just the type of terrain suited to the Spaniard. Had it not been for a mild hitch in finding a waypoint, the man from Castellon could have improved on his final fourth place finish.
Coma said it had been another very difficult day: “It was foggy at the start of the special and I made one small navigation mistake and I lost some time there, but then I tried to push with a high rhythm to come back to my position. The last part was also tricky navigation and it was difficult to find one of the waypoints. I am lucky because maybe I am faster than some of the others and I can push until the end. It’s okay. It was a good day for us.” Aussie Toby Price too had occasional difficulties with the navigation: “This morning was going well and we were making up ground. I made a small navigational error in the sand but I got on top of it. We were about one minute off the lead at the first CP but then we went into the fesh-fesh area and it was really tough. Then at about the 360 km mark there was a waypoint and we all got lost and the other guys made up ground. It was frustrating to lose time there but I am happy we’re here. As long as we can get to the finish line, that’s the main goal. But if we can stay in the top five that’s even better.” Stage 10 on Wednesday is the start of the second marathon stage, which takes riders over a distance of 891 km, including a timed special of 371 km. Preservation of bikes and tires will again be important as they are not permitted any support or assistance from their teams overnight.
Stage Nine Dakar 2015 Iquique to Calama – 88 km liaison, 451 km special (539 km) (Provisional Stage Results)
1, Helder Rodrigues, POR, Honda, 5 hours 05.14 2, Paolo Goncalves, POR Honda at 3.51 3, Marc Coma, ESP, KTM at 7.34 4, Joan Barreda, ESP, Honda at 19.47 5, Javier Pizzolito, ARG, Hoinda at 20.07 6, Stefan Svitko, SVK, KTM at 21.40 7, Matthias Walkner, AUT, KTM at 22.02 8, Toby Price, AUS, KTM at 23.09 9, Pablo Qunitanilla, CHI, KTM 23.15 10, Olivier Pain, FRA, Yamaha at 28.09