Dakar: Victoria to Cordoba
Last minute Dakar Update: Ruben Faria took a penaltly for excess speed – 1 minute. Faria is now second, and this gives Cyril Despres the overall first position in Stage 1.
The first of 13 stages was completed on Sunday for the 2011 Dakar Rally in Argentina, with KTM riders taking the top-four positions on the 450 Rally, separated by a gap of only 2 minutes and 13 seconds.
Leading the KTM pack was reigning titleholder Cyril Despres of Andorra. His co-rider, Ruben Faria of Portugal, initially took first, but later received a penalty for speeding, dropping him back to second.
Taking the third and fourth spots were two KTM riders from Spain, Marc Coma and his co-rider Juan Pedrero. Rounding out the top five was Paolo Goncalves, of Portugal, on a BMW.
During Stage One on Sunday for the 2011 Dakar, the riders set out from Victoria and traveled 758 kilometers, with 192 of those officially timed.
When the rules for the 2011 Dakar made all bikes run a maximum of 450cc, KTM immediately developed the 450 Rally motorcycle. KTM is hoping to secure it’s 10th title at the 2011 Dakar, which consists of 16 days of grueling off-road competition.
Organizers have also stated that the more difficult stages will be in the second half of this 16-day Dakar Rally, which has heightened the challenge for the Austrian manufacturer.
But the Stage One event was totally on KTM’s side. The stage victory was Ruben Faria’s fourth career stage win in Dakar rallies. He said at the end of the day that he had managed to keep a good speed throughout the ride in what was territory similar to what he is used to back home in Portugal.
Ruben Faria says: "I did better today than many great riders with different riding styles and it is already a good point of reference. I am also very happy to see that my team-mate Cyril Despres also made excellent time."
Despres, who if successful at the end of the competition will bag his fourth Dakar trophy, was also satisfied at the end of the first competitive stage. He was second out of the start gate at first light just after Marc Coma.
KTM reports that the riders had to be awake at around 3 a.m. for the 4:20 a.m. start as light broke over Argentina in what is the height of the summer in the southern hemisphere. Clearly satisfied with his day’s ride Despres said the special stage had been "really great fun."
Cyril Despres says: "It was a great warming-up exercise, a winding route, big sliding sections, a mix between skiing and riding. You always wonder what it will be like at the beginning of a Dakar, especially now that all the top riders are on 450cc bikes. Is this going to change much? Even if we tested our bikes, a Dakar will always be a Dakar. The race is on now and staying focused is of the essence."
Coma, the 2009 Dakar winner also said it was a good warming up stage.
Marc Coma says: "Not an easy one though," he said. "It had a highly technical section and a faster section. What matters is reaching the end of the first stage without and difficulties."
It was Coma’s job as the number one bike out to open up the track for the other riders and this can give those following a tactical advantage and tactics are an important element in this marathon event, KTM says.
Speaking from the bivouac, Marc Coma said his team was watching the weather closely because there was a possibility of rain on Monday for Stage Two. "That would make it more difficult," he said.
Juan Pedrero, Marc’s co-rider was especially delighted with his fourth place finish.
Juan Pedrero says: "It was a great special stage for me…. I’m very happy with the bike. We had tested it but things are very different in race conditions.
"I was really motivated at the start. The ground felt like Enduro racing and after a while I grew confident."
Stage two brings new challenges to the four KTM factory Dakar riders, who have another early start with Ruben Faria charged with opening the track.
Stage Two takes them from Cordoba north to San Miguel de Tucuman over 440 km of road and a special of 300km. They will enter forested areas and encounter a track that organizers say will offer plenty of jumps.
2011 Dakar Motorcycles | Stage 1 Results:
1. Cyril Despres, Andorra, KTM
2. Ruben Faria, Portugal, KTM
3. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM, 00:01.15
4. Juan Pedrero, Spain, KTM, 00:02:13
5. Paolo Goncalves, Portugal BMW, 00:02.18
6. Jonah Street, USA, Yamaha, 00:03.07
7. Francisco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia, 00:03.14
8. Jose Rodrigues, Brazil, BMW, 00:03.23
9. Jordi Viladoms, Spain, Yamaha, 00:04.11
10. Frans Verhoeven, Netherlands, 00:04.23