Isaac Newton said, “What goes up must come down” which aptly describes the Dakar Rally’s second stage of racing. All classes had new leaders and some stage 1 winners were seeing hard times. The race is still pretty close and who knows what the next stage will bring, but for now let’s take a look at how Monday went. The temperature soared as Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider #6 Sam Sunderland got lost and found the finish line 02:26:48 behind his former team mate and new overall leader, #2 Joan Barreda Bort. Second place went to another Team HRC rider #7 Paulo Goncalves. Defending champ, #1 Marc Coma’s rear tyre gave out so he had to finish the stage at a much slower pace rather than not finish at all. He said, “Ok, we lost some time today, but at the end I’m lucky because normally I could have stayed stuck in the desert all the day.” His fellow KTM rider, #11 Ruben Faria, finished the stage in third place and holds the same place on the overall list. Faria is admittedly “taking it day by day” but currently leading the KTM squad chasing the top two Hondas. In case you were wondering, the top Yamaha was #10 Juan Pedrero Garcia at tenth on both the stage and overall results. This is the Spaniard’s seventh Dakar Rally who has always performed strongly and his highest finish was 5th in both 2011 and 2013. American rider #164 Antonio Narino had what looks to be a terrible day. He’s bearing a 03:00:00 penalty and holding on for dear life in 141st overall. At the time of writing, twelve riders withdrew from the race after stage 2, so hang in there, Antonio!
Despite the heat and difficult terrain, it was a very good day for Qatar Rally Team’s #301 Nasser Al-Attiyah and his French co-driver, Matthieu Baumel. They won the stage and now have a 00:07:42 lead on the rest of the field. (What penalty?) His Mini compatriots had a tough go of the course. #307 Krzysztof Holowczyc and Xavier Panseri finished fourth despite physical exhaustion, while yesterday’s stage winners #305 Orlando Terranova and Bernardo Rolando “Ronnie” Graue had an accident near the end. Thankfully both were okay and surprisingly only 00:22:23 behind at tenth overall. The Mini armada’s most dangerous competitors right now are two plucky Toyotas: #303 Giniel De Villiers and Dirk Von Zitzewitz and #315 Bernhard Ten Brinke and Tom Colsoul. This is Ten Brinke’s third Dakar Rally while Colsoul has twelve with Gerard De Rooy plus over three hundred regular rallies. It’s quite a change from truck to car but he welcomes the challenge, while the driver will certainly benefit from his vast experience. Team Peugot Total is still in the top ten thanks to #304 Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz at sixth overall. The two other 2008 DKRs are both over an hour behind. #302 Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret is 22nd, while #322 Cyril Despres and Gilles Picard are 24th.
Thank goodness for social media! A @MaxxisSuperB tweet announced that #354 Tom Coronel was heading to the bivouac, while #347 Tim Coronel was still out on the route. Remember the brothers are racing solo this year but the organisers will surely be on the lookout for Tim too. #330 Romain Dumas and Francois Borsotto finished the stage 48th and currently hold the 45th overall spot. Some familiar names are on that part of the list like #323 Guerlain Chicherit who’s racing for the ninth time with Alexandre Winocq as his co-driver again. The 2014 race was a nightmare for the daring Frenchman backed by the Buggy All Terrain Team this time around. Perseverance is part of his nature. As it is for the next driver #308 Robby Gordon. The Speed Energy Racing Gordini was side-lined with serious brake issues which had Gordon and co-driver, Johnny Campbell, working on the vehicle in tremendous heat. The finished the stage 50th and 48th overall. Although they’re 04:06:40 behind, the race is far than over for the gutsy Americans.
#250 Ignacio Casale watched his overall lead in Quads slip away as closest rival #251 Rafal Sonik took the stage and pulled ahead by 00:02:26. Defending champ Casale is still in striking distance but this stage was extremely difficult and he spent some time recovering in the medical tent. He said, “Today it was a very difficult stage, the hardest I’ve ridden in my life. I thought that I was going to drop out. I had a lot of thoughts running around my mind throughout the day. 100 kilometres from the end of the special, I didn’t have any water left and I got really dehydrated. I suffered a lot and didn’t feel great at all.” As these guys are battling between first and second, they’d better keep an eye on #252 Sergio Lafuente. He’s only 00:04:30 and fully capable of snatching the lead from the both of them.
The Truck class was blazing today. Kamaz Master Team’s #502 Eduard Nikolaev took the stage with a tiny 00:00:46 lead over #510 Siarhei Viazovich. If that wasn’t tight enough, another Kamaz truck #507 Ayrat Mardeev flew along into third place three seconds behind Viazovich. It’s so very close and that’s just the stage result. On the overall sheet Nikolaev’s lead is 00:00:40 but #504 Hans Stacey is still competitive in second place. Again these spots are anything but secure as Mardeev is now holding 3rd, only five seconds behind the Powerstar Iveco truck. This is only stage 2 yet we’re sorting the top three truck times by a matter of seconds while some very quick beasts are bearing down and more than capable of blasting past the leaders, with eleven stages still to go!
Don’t forget to tune in or set your DVRs to NBC Sports Network for video highlights on “The Dakar Rally.” We’ll have a stage 3 recap for you as soon as confirmed information becomes available; and of course you can also follow along via official Dakar Rally online sources:
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