11 Jan 2014


There was a script for this year's Dakar Rally, but after six stages and a day or more of flat-out driving, no-one seems to have read it. The event has thrown up many surprises between Rosario and Salta in Argentina, but seems to have settled down at the mid-point.

Stage winners

Stage 1: Joan Barreda Bort (Honda)
Stage 2: Sam Sunderland (Honda)
Stage 3: Barreda
Stage 4: Juan Pedrero Garcia (Sherco)
Stage 5: Marc Coma (KTM)
Stage 6: Alain Duclos (Sherco)

The smart money was on a battle royale between Marc Coma and Cyril Despres. It hasn't quite turned out that way.

Joan Barreda Bort claimed his first win of the rally on Stage 1, with Coma and Despres within touching distance in second and third. The pair fell to ninth and tenth respectively on Stage 2, won narrowly by Briton Sam Sunderland from 'Chelico' Lopez and Barreda. Those positions were reversed for the overall podium.

Barreda took Stage 3 honours. Despres and Coma claimed the remaining podium places, the overall order matching the stage order. Juan Pedrero won Stage 4 on the French Sherco machine, while Lopez took second and claimbed to third overall. Third on the road moved Coma up to second overall, the delayed Despres dropping out of the top five.

Coma finally won his first stage of the event on Stage 5, well clear of Jordi Viladoms and Kuba Przygonski. Coma took the overall lead as issues for Barreda demoted him to second, a long way back. Lopez maintained third, but well out of touch. Mechanical problems dropped Despres further out of contention.

After three top five stage times earlier in the week, Alain Duclos took Sherco's second win of the event on Stage 6. He moves up to third overall after Lopez crashed out. Coma finished the day second, extending his lead over Barreda who crossed the line fourth. Michael Metge annexed the bottom step of the podium for the stage. Despres dropped out of the overall top ten.

Coma looks comfortable with a lead of over 42 minutes, but he will know there is still a very long, very challenging way to go yet.

Tragically, Stage 5 was marred by the death leader amateur rider Eric Palante, who was competing in his 11th Dakar Rally. The 50 year-old Belgian's body was found by a clear-up crew at kilometer 143. The cause of his death is currently unknown.

Top 10 runners after 6 stages

1. Marc Coma - Red Bull Factory Team KTM 450 Rally Rep - 23h08m00s
2. Joan Barreda Bort - HRC Rally Honda CRF450 - +42m17s
3. Alain Duclos - Samsung Factory Sherco 450SR - +1h00m58s
4. Jordi Viladoms - Red Bull Factory Team KTM 450 Rally Rep - +1h08m09s
5. Jeremias Israel Esquerre - Mapfre Speedbrain 450 Rally - +1h33m28s
6. Olivier Pain - Factory Team Yamaha 450YZF Rally - +1h43m08s
7. Kuba Przygonski - Orlen Factory KTM 450 Rally Rep - +1h49m59s
8. Helder Rodrigues - HRC Rally Honda CRF450 - 2h01m24s
9. David Casteu - Team Casteu KTM 450 Rally - 2h12m05s
10. Daniel Gouet - Tamarugal XC Honda 450 - 2h17m26s

By Graham King