2011 Dakar News
Aprilia rider Francisco Lopez is third, behind Marc Coma and Cyril Despres after an exhausting stage. It was an excellent day for Alain Duclos, while Alex Zanotti and Gerard Farres lost time in the special.
Stage 8, Antofagasta – Copiapó, could have been decisive for this Dakar 2011, but it was only like the precedent Dakar days, but in a different setting: One of the best riders opens the road, then, another top one comes and joins him. This was the movie for the 508 km special stage in the heart of the Atacama Desert.
After yesterday´s victory, "Chaleco" Lopez opened the track and then, Cyril Despres (KTM) reached him, while Coma had some distance from the two.
The Chilean Aprilia rider leaded almost all day, but at the end, behind the dunes, he let go his adversaries and the three of them crossed the Dakar finish line almost at the same time. López signed the third best time, 4’21" from stage winner Marc Coma, and 1’55" from Despres.
The Dakar race seemed to be reduced to these three riders, and it is only Helder Rodrigues who looks as if he can catch up with the leaders. Meanwhile, in the overall ranking, "Chaleco" consolidates his third place, 11′ from Despres and 22” from Coma.
It was an excellent journey for Alain Duclos. Aprilia´s new rider obtained the 7th place of the stage, his best result so far.
Gerard Farres was also carrying out a great performance aboard the Aprilia. Seventh at CP3, he had some problems with the fuel tank, followed by others with the Trip Master and crossed the line 27th.
Alex Zanotti wasn´t lucky either. As he arrived to the refueling area, his GPS blocked. Without the main instrument for navigation, he followed other riders until the end of the stage and, because of the dust; he couldn’t avoid a bump and was ejected from the saddle. Fortunately he has only a back ache.
On Tuesday, a loop around Copiapo will be the Dakar challenge of the day. A great start in lines by ten for bikes, to face a 235 km special section. Even if it seems simple, they must be aware, dunes won’t make it easy.
Francisco Lopez (Aprilia Dakar) says: "It was a very long stage with many kinds of tracks. Fast in the first part, more technical in the second. Despres reached me, but he let me open the track. I wanted to keep a good rhythm, then, by then, after Coma joined us, they went in front of me."
Alain Duclos (Aprilia Dakar): "Today I felt great on the bike, after the adjustments on the rear suspension. I didn´t do the World Championship this year, it´s clear it takes some time to take the rhythm, get to know the Aprilia bike, get used to the speed. The bike has an enormous potential, I´m truly convinced."
Alex Zanotti (Aprilia Dakar) says: "The GPS stopped working, it didn´t mark the right bearing. In these conditions I had to run behind the dust of others, and I couldn´t go faster than 50 km/h. Then, I made such a big flight! When I got up, dazed, I took the road in the opposite sense."