DAK15_Stage5_Rodrigues_17088_MCHelder Rodrigues stepped back into the limelight today by winning stage 6 of the Dakar rally. In so doing, he had to negotiate mountains, hard track, potholed paths, taxing navigation and a full range of hazards. The Portuguese ace, nevertheless, claimed the rally’s sixth stage on a 318 kilometer timed special that wound up in Iquique.

In doing so, Helder leapfrogs into fourth overall position. Overall leader Joan Barreda started out in second place, cut down the gap with Marc Coma in the first kilometres, and made it to the finish-line with the sixth best time. Barreda furthers his overall advantage to 12’27’’.

Stage Six also saw a great ride by KTM-supported Toby Price, who took a close second, finishing just one minute 10 behind Rodrigues. It was the Australian Desert racer’s best finish so far as the 2015 edition concludes the first half of the nearly 9000 km distance at the Chilean coastal city of Iquique.

KTM’s Marc Coma finished eighth overall after being shadowed by fellow Spaniard Joan Barreda. Barreda retains the overall lead as riders head into Saturday’s rest day. Coma’s factory teammate Ruben Faria finished ninth in the stage and is seventh overall at the half way mark. Teammate Jordi Viladoms struggled after missing a way point and was clearly disappointed at the end of the day. He wraps up the first week at eleventh overall.

In third place on today’s card and overall, lies Paulo Gonçalves, just five minutes off second spot. Jeremias Israel’s fall a couple of days ago, has started to show with the Chilean unable to attack, and clearly not at his physical best. Laia Sanz, can be content with the way the stage played out, and is now a hair’s breadth away from the top fifteen.

Honda South America Rally Team round off a productive first week at the Dakar. Daniel Gouet and Javier Pizzolito finished in 18th and 19th positions. The Chilean leads the team in the general standings in 18th.

The sixth stage ground to a halt in Iquique, which will play host to the caravan’s well-earned day of rest. Team HRC will take advantage of the break to give the bikes a once-over and prepare for the first of the Dakar’s two marathon stages this Sunday. The participants will be isolated from their mechanics, and any repairs to the  machines, will have to be undertaken by riders themselves.


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