Iquique to Arica
UPDATE: At the end of Stage 6, it was determined that Ruben Faria, the fastest rider of the special stage, did not respect the obligation to stop for 15 minutes during refueling.
The KTM rider only stopped 5’13 and the remaining 9’47 have been added to his provisional time. This new time takes his victory away on behalf of his countryman Helder Rodrigues. In the reviewed ranking of the stage, Faria is 7th. Updated story can be read here.
Although he initially took the Stage 1 victory at the 33rd edition of the 2011 Dakar Rally, Ruben Faria was later penalized, dropping him back to second place.
But on Friday, luck changed for the KTM Rally Replica Factory rider, as he took victory after navigating through the special that ran from Iquique to Arica.
Ruben Faria says: "I started at my own pace, so until the refueling stop I probably lost some time. After that I accelerated and I overtook Despres, Coma, Rodrigues and Chaleco (Lopez) 200 km from the finish.
"As Cyril’s water carrier, I always ride sensibly, but there are times when I can take advantage of the situation. I started seventh this morning and that helped me. I think Cyril will be happy for me."
The Portuguese rider was followed by fellow countryman Helder Rodrigues on a Yamaha. Taking third and fourth were his fellow KTM riders, Marc Coma and Cyril Despres, respectively. Coma still maintains the overall lead, now 8:48 seconds ahead of Despres.
Faria, Despres’ co-rider, started off in seventh place at Dakar 2011 on Friday. Faria hoped to catch up to the leaders, but first had to deal with Rodrigues, who was quick in the first half of the stage, which consisted of 265 km on the road, and another 456 km of special with plenty of dunes and the first encounter with the dreaded fesh-fesh, the tricky talc-like soft sand.
Faria caught up with Rodrigues in the second half of the Dakar stage. The reigning title-holder Despres began losing time after reporting he felt worrisome vibrations coming from the engine of his KTM 450 Rally.
One rider went down in Stage 6; Jose Helio Rodrigues Filho, who finished 12th overall in 2009, fractured his collarbone during the wreck, forcing him to exit the race.
As for overall Dakar standings after Stage 6, Coma leads, followed by Despres. In third is Francisco (Chaleco) Lopez, who is 22:12 seconds behind Coma. Rodrigues is in fourth (27.35 behind Coma), and Faria moved up into fifth overall, 29:54 seconds behind Coma.
After more than 4,500 km of challenging landscape in South America, the riders finally have a rest day on Saturday.
The 2011 Dakar continues on Sunday for Stage 7, which will take riders from Arica to Antofagasta. The stage offers a 208 km liaison and a mammoth 631 km in two stages of special down to the shores of the Pacific. They can look forward to 40 km of endurance style riding and plenty of dunes that is going to test both their skill as riders and their physical and mental fitness.
2011 Dakar Stage Six Results
1. Ruben Faria, Portugal, KTM, 5:35:27
2. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha, at 00:50
3. Cyril Despres, Andorra, KTM, at 3:54
4. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM, at 5:20
5. Stefan Svitko, Slovakia, KTM, at 8:07
2011 Dakar Standings after Stage Six
1. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM, 22:40:20
2. Cyril Despres, Andorra, KTM, at 8:48
3. Francisco (Chaleco) Lopez, Chile, Aprilia, 22:12
4. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha, at 27:35
5. Ruben Faria, Portugal, KTM at 29:54