Stage Six of the Dakar Rally saw a great ride by KTM-supported Toby Price, who took a close second, finishing just one minute 10 behind the stage winner Helder Rodrigues of Portugal. It was the Australian Desert racer’s best finish so far as the 2015 edition concludes the first half of the nearly 9000 km distance at the Chilean coastal city of Iquique.
Red Bull KTM’s Marc Coma finished eighth overall after being shadowed by his main rival and fellow Spaniard Joan Barreda, who finished sixth. Barreda retains the overall lead as riders head into Saturday’s rest day. Coma’s factory teammate Ruben Faria finished ninth in the stage and is seventh overall at the half way mark. Teammate Jordi Viladoms struggled after missing a way point and was clearly disappointed at the end of the day. He wraps up the first week at eleventh overall.
KTM’s other newcomer, Matthias Walkner, who was in a comfortable fourth position at the fourth WP then dropped down the order and was still to finish at the time of filing. The team indicated he had had some fuel issues but this was to be confirmed. Up to this point, Walkner a former MX3 World Champion but new to rally and to the team, had been having a great first outing in his debut Dakar ride. He won Stage Two and has been consistently up with the leaders.
Stage Six from Antofagasta took riders north along the Pacific coast, then over some endurance-type terrain and along tracks in the spectacular coastal desert of Chile. The total distance was 688 km, which included 319km of timed special, ending in a series of dunes that took riders into the heart of Iquique to a point in the city center, where Chilean fans came out in numbers to greet them.
Price said his day had been a good one.
“I caught a bit of dust at first but then I made my way around some of the guys and was in the clear. I almost missed a way point at one stage but I turned back and got it. After than I kept motoring along and I didn’t get lost one bit. I was pretty surprised. I think the navigation is slowly coming. I think we’re getting the hang of it now. I take my time with it and at the end of the day its better because I don’t rush things. I’m stoked to be at the half way and to get a good result today.”
Coma on the other hand said his day had been a tough one.
“I started first in the stage and I had a small crash at the beginning and this caused me to lose a bit of confidence in the first part. Then the rhythm was coming back again but the navigation was very difficult and it was very tough to find the way. Joan (Barreda) was always with me and he’s become my shadow the last three days. Bit it’s like this. Everyone is playing their cards.”
Ruben Faria said on the balance it had been a good result for him.
The day was tricky and there were some bumps but in the end it was a good result. I am very happy to finish the first week.”
Faria who injured his collarbone and wrist six weeks before the Dakar said he was looking forward to having some rest and recuperation on the rest day Saturday.
Viladoms on the other hand was very disappointed at having missed the way point and said the stage had been really bad. "I think it is one of those days I will try to forget. I jumped a way point and it was too late to come back. I started thinking about this and it cost me a lot of energy. This made it difficult during the stage because what I expected and how it is are very different.”
Riders and teams have their one chance to regroup, rest and recuperate on Saturday during the rally’s one rest day. the KTM factory riders and supported riders are competing on the KTM 450 RALLY.