Dakar Stage Seven Results
Click video to see the highlights from Stage Seven (7) of the 2010 Dakar. France’s Cyril Despres won Stage 7 in the motorbike category, a stage in which defending champion Marc Coma returned to being his fiercest contender in the overall standings.
Some stages alone can represent several episodes of a race, which was the case for Stage 7 which took competitors back down the northern-Chile coast to a well-earned rest day in Antofagasta. The sheer distance and a mix of different terrains made life very tough for those remaining in the race.
Coma and Despres, who had started first, paid the price with some hesitations in a vast sand dunes area. Riders behind them ended up catching up, and at the different intermediary check points both two-times winners ended up losing ground and giving opportunities to Pal Anders Ullevalseter (1st at CP1 and CP2), David Frétigné (1st at CP4) and Fransisco Lopez (1st at CP5 and CP6).
However in the last 150km the two masters of the bike race ended up putting a gap on the track again and got back to their natural positions. Despite the pain inflicted by a broken shock absorber earlier on, Despres crossed the finish line with the best time of the day and won his 22nd stage on a Dakar.
"I am tired and on top of all, at kilometre 150 I entered a large ditch and exploded the hydraulics of my shock absorber," an exhausted Despres said.
"Since then I have been riding on a spring. I took all the shocks in my arms, my wrists, my neck. It was really hard before but it became close to unbearable at this point.
"The gap between me and Marc is small. The bike did not suffer despite the loss of hydraulics. I will have to look at all the screws and bolts but the bike took me here and that’s good. The rest day will be welcome."
The Frenchman kept his lead in the overall standings, one hour and six seconds ahead of nearest rival Coma, who he identified as his prime contender.
"It was a very long day. But it’s over. We made it to the rest day," said Coma.
"We will be able to tend to the bike. We made it half way through the raid. Today, I had to be mindful of the speed to spare my tires. It was pretty hard in the dunes where I got a bit lost."
The Spaniard reigning champion is now ahead of Helder Rodrigues and Chilean local hero Lopez in the standings after suffering engine problems and a time penalty for speeding earlier in the race. (SBS).