Dakar: Bad luck ends for Barreda in Stage 10; Coma builds up overall edge

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Former Dakar Rally title contender Joan Barreda has turned the page on several stages of frustration with his third stage win of the 2015 running in Wednesday’s high-altitude Stage 10 from Calama, Chile to Salta, Argentina.

Barreda’s Dakar dream survived the loss of a handlebar in a Stage 7 crash, but could not endure an electrical failure in Stage 8 that sent him free-falling from the overall lead. Then, in Tuesday’s Stage 9, a 15-minute time penalty for an engine change knocked him from fourth to 10th that day.

But “Bang Bang” got back to being his best in Wednesday’s 371km special stage. He took the point from defending Dakar champion Marc Coma early on and kept Coma behind him the rest of the way en route to a 1-minute, 39 second victory over his fellow Spaniard.

“I got off to a great start this morning,” Barreda said. “Everything fell into place. It was easy because there wasn’t much in the way of navigation. It was basically a main track you had to follow.

“It’s a pity, what happened in Uyuni, on the salt lake: I was in the lead, the toughest part was behind us, the odds were stacked in my favor… There’s nothing I can do now apart from trying to finish like this. It’s just about helping the team and trying to get a good result.”

However, Coma – who seized the overall lead following Barreda’s ill-fated Stage 8 – was able to tack on more than two minutes to his advantage over Barreda’s Honda teammate, Paulo Goncalves (fifth on Wednesday). Coma now holds P1 over the Portuguese rider by seven minutes, 35 seconds with three stages to go.

And with third-place overall rider Pablo Quintanilla (eighth on Wednesday) now forced to battle tooth-and-nail with Toby Price (fourth on Wednesday) and Stefan Svitko (sixth on Wednesday) for the final podium spot, it’s looking like Coma and Goncalves will settle the Dakar between them alone.

“It’s been a tough Dakar,” Coma said Wednesday. “We have to fight many adverse situations but after so many days and despite the suffering, I am still enjoying it. That is what is great about this race. It makes you confront your limits and when you think you can’t do any more, you face them and move on.

“Today’s stage was very hard and it was not easy to keep up a high pace. At first, there was the altitude, and then a technical part that really tested us. I tried to keep up the same pace throughout the stage.”

As for Goncalves, he feels he is in great position for Thursday’s Stage 11 from Salta to Termas de Rio Hondo, which is the second part of the ongoing “marathon” stage for both motorcycle and quad categories.

“Today was a fast stage, with little difficulty in way of navigation,” he said. “The track was a bit slippery at the beginning, you had to be careful. Soon, there were four of us riding together. I think we rode well, saving our motorcycles, which was crucial because this evening’s a marathon stage.

“My motorcycle is ready for tomorrow already… and I’m ready to keep up the fight.”

NBCSN’s coverage of the Dakar Rally continues with Stage 10 highlights tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. ET.

2015 Dakar Rally – Overall Standings, Motorcycles
(After Stage 10 – Calama, Chile to Salta, Argentina)

1. 1-Marc Coma (KTM), 38hrs, 13mins, 50secs
2. 7-Paulo Goncalves (Honda), + 7mins, 35secs
3. 31-Pablo Quintanilla (KTM), + 31mins, 42secs
4. 26-Toby Price (KTM), + 32mins, 6secs
5. 18-Stefan Svitko (KTM), + 45mins, 19secs
6. 9-David Casteu (KTM), + 1hr, 41mins, 14secs
7. 11-Ruben Faria (KTM), + 1hr, 41mins, 40secs
8. 29-Laia Sanz (Honda), + 2hrs, 5mins, 0secs
9. 21-Ivan Jakes (KTM), + 2hrs, 25mins, 51secs
10. 3-Olivier Pain (Yamaha), + 2hrs, 50mins, 11secs