Rallye

Marc Coma takes Dakar Day 2 win and overall lead

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KTM's two triple Dakar Rally winners Marc Coma and Cyril Despres got down to serious business in Stage Two of the 33rd edition of the world's most challenging rally with Coma notching his first stage victory for 2012 ahead of factory teammate Despres to take the lead in the overall standings.

It is almost a different sport. With 295 kilometres covered in the special stage for the bikes, the gaps recorded are starting to be counted in minutes. Marc Coma, who already fired a warning shot over his rivals' bows by putting in the second best time yesterday, did not take long to seize the opportunity to put some distance between his bike and the chasing pack. Having set of in second place behind Francisco Lopez, yesterday's winner, the title holder won the 17th stage of his career on the Dakar, opening the road during the entire final part of the route.

Coma said the first part of the timed special had been very fast as he rode together with Lopez, a prelude to the difficult ride in the soft sand. "The start of the special was very fast today," Coma said. "Chaleco and me were riding at top speed and let me tell you, the Aprilia is very, very quick. After that, we arrived at the second part of the special with sand and dunes. It was a lot more technical, with some navigation to do as well. I took the lead and kept riding at a good pace. I'm happy because I didn't get lost. So, it's been a good day for me!"
Marc Coma took the win on stage 2


Some way behind the Spaniard, a traditional confrontation with Cyril Despres fell into place. After a gentle start to the competition yesterday, he was obliged to start in 13th place. On the tracks, he overtook Olivier Pain, then Pal Anders Ullevalseter and Quinn Cody, picking up the best time at the half-way point. However, in the final sandy section over the last 50 kilometres, Coma made up for time lost and even built up a lead of 1'18" over Despres.

In the general standings, he takes command with a lead of 2'30" over Francisco Lopez. The provisional podium is completed by Despres, who nonetheless lags behind Coma by 2'52". On this Dakar, third place on the stages seems to be reserved for surprise packages. After Pizzolito yesterday, it was the turn of Joan Barreda to do combat with the masters in the discipline, finishing 2'33" behind Coma on the stage. The Spaniard, who in particular won two stages on the recent Rally of Morocco, is perhaps following in the tyre-tracks of his elder countryman. In fact, the Husqvarna rider was born in Castellon, a town that has welcomed stages of the Dakar three times.

Day one winner, Chaleco Lopez, who was fourth on day two, said, "For the moment, I'm not thinking about the general standings,"

"I opened the road until the 240 km point, with Marc following me, but then when we got to the dunes, he overtook me. I found it a bit difficult to follow, because I had a problem with my GPS aerial and I'm also quite tired. But these first two days of racing were important for me, to see how I am physically. I'm happy to have reached the finishing line. For the moment, I'm not thinking about the general standings, but I think there was a lot to lose today, because the special was very long and tricky.

Stage Three takes riders from San Rafael to San Juan and the ascent into the high altitude Andes, as they now ride due north parallel to the great mountain range. Concentration will be an issue with another testing day's ride as they climb higher into the mountain region. Organizers have promised that this year's route will be one of surprise challenges where difficult parts will come at unexpected times and endurance will be demanded throughout the rally.

Cyril Despres made it a KTM 1-2 on day 2
Stage Two Results
1, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM, 3:07.21
2, Cyril Despres, France, KTM at 1:18
3, Joan Barreda Bort, Spain, Husqvarna at 2:33
4, Chaleco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia at 2:44
5, Jakub Przgonski, Poland, KTM at 4:17

Overall Results after Stage Two
1, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM, 3 hours 40 minutes 12 seconds
2, Chaleco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia at 2:30
3, Cyril Despres, France, KTM at 2:52
4, Jakub Przgonski, Poland, KTM at 4:32
5, Joan Barreda Bort, Spain, Husqvarna at 8:16

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