Dakar 2014 | Red Bull KTM’s Marc Coma Wins Dakar Rally Stage 11Marc Coma is one stage closer to earning his fourth Dakar title. The Red Bull KTM 450 Rally pilot won his third-stage victory Thursday, which took riders 465 from Antofagasta to El Salvador, Chile.
Stage 11 also featured the longest-timed special of 2014 Dakar Rally, challenging riders for 376 miles in the deep dunes of the Atacama desert.The stage’s competition appeared very familiar to Dakar Rally fans who followed the racing for the past decade as Coma rode closely to his former teammate, five-time Dakar winner Cyril Despres.The only difference? The Frenchman is on a Red Bull Yamaha YZF 450 Rally and still way back in the overall ranking; Despres is over 2 hours 30 minutes behind Coma.And with two stages remaining in 2014 Dakar Rally, the only rider that has the closest shot at taking title from Coma is Team HRC Honda’s Joan Barreda Bort, who won four stages so far.Barreda trails Coma by over 52 minutes; everyone else is over two hours behind.Coma, who started fifth Thursday, opened up Stage 11 of the 36th edition of the Dakar Rally with a fall. The Spaniard regained his rhythm, and got out front quickly.But his rival Despres caught up with him, and the two battled for most of the seven-hour day. Coma eventually finished 2 minutes 51 seconds ahead of Despres.Despres’ teammate Olivier Pain battled intensely with Red Bull KTM’s Jordi Viladoms for the final step of the podium. But Pain would take third by a mere 25 seconds ahead of Viladoms.As for Barreda, he suffered a fall around 155 miles into the day’s special, and broke all the navigational equipment aboard his Team HRC Honda CRF 450 Rally. But he was able to continue, and finished eighth fastest in Stage 11, over 8 minutes behind Coma.But with two stages remaining, Barreda is the only rider with an honest shot at Coma. But if the Catalan rides as he did Thursday – even with a crash – nothing will slow him from earning his fourth Dakar title.Check out the stage-11 action during the “Dakar Rally Series,” which will air on NBC Sports Network at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17.For a preview including the entire Dakar 2014 schedule, click here.2014 Dakar Rally Stage 11 QuotesMarc Coma (Red Bull KTM 450 Rally) says: “It was a very long day. I had a little fall at the start, but it wasn’t serious. After that, I tried to maintain a good pace. The important thing is still being here in the race and also to be careful, because there is still one tough day left.”Cyril Despres (Red Bull Yamaha YZF 450 Rally) says: “Well it was just a long day, a really long day. We came across every type of terrain: Sand dunes, twisty, rocky track sections… It isn’t possible to do it without a good physical condition and the Yamaha today worked really perfectly, but also to manage to make a good special like this you need good tires. I’m just surprised at how we can get to the finish with just this kind of tyre. It’s just impossible to understand.”Joan Barreda Bort (Team HRC Honda CRF450 Rally) says: “Today was one of the most important days with a lot of timed kilometers. I really tried, pushing hard from the beginning, but about 300 km into the race I had a heavy fall in the fesh-fesh zone and I broke the navigation system. I waited for Cyril (Despres) who was about six minutes behind and I stuck with him until the end of the special. I’m happy that we’ve got this difficult stage out of the way and we are a bit closer to the end.”Olivier Pain (Yamaha YZF 450 Rally) says: “The main thing today was to not lose too much time to Cyril or Helder, who are my main rivals. I also wanted to gain as much as possible on Jordi, to try and aim for 3rd place. A lot can still happen tomorrow. With a fairly small difference in time, you can end up on the podium… or in seventh place, and I don’t want to finish in seventh place!”2014 Dakar Rally | A Look Ahead to Stage 12Stage 12 will take riders 434 miles from El Salvador to La Serena, Chile, 217-mile liaison, 217-mile special).2014 Dakar Rally Stage 11 Results: