Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Stage 4 Moto Wrap Up

Stage 4 consisted of a long liaison over the Andes broken up only by the breathtaking views, breathtaking altitude, and the long anticipated border crossing into Chile, followed by a blindingly quick 207km stage in which Coma edged Despres by 16" to take the overall lead by a scant 2" difference. From a timing perspective, the two were nose to tail through each waypoint never more than 34" apart through the entire stage. A purely stunning display of speed and accuracy by the two factory KTM riders as they left all of their competition, literally and figuratively in the dust. The only rider really remaining within any sort of relative position was Chaleco Lopez on the Aprilia, perhaps seemingly stating to the rest of the field that the rally is now in his back yard.


Of course, for team F5, drama continues to play out and nails continue to get whittled down to their nubs as ASO timing and scoring continually dropped riders, and to that end, complete waypoints as no times were displayed for WP3 and the final WP.


Another solid display from both Jonah Street and Quinn Cody with Cody staying right there, impressing all with his pace on what is not only his first Dakar, but his first real navigational rally.


Many top riders looked to have some issues between WP2 and WP4 with many riders dropping considerable time to the two leaders with the next closest riders, aside from Chaleco, more than +6'20" back from Coma. Probably the hardest hit of the main bunch being Goncalves on the Team Bianchi Prata BMW dropping +15'11" behind the leader. Promising young Aussie, Jacob Smith dropped considerable time between WP4 and WP5 dropping from 17th to 80th place with a loss of 38'38" in that segment alone, contrasted by fellow Aussie Warren Strange's rapid ascent back up the standings starting 146th for a yet unknown reason and passing nearly 100 riders to finish up the stage in a provisional 49th place.


Coming to grips with his machine, and I'm sure not a moment too soon looked to be Pal Anders Ullevalsetter who clocked in at the stage finish in a provisional 10th place, just over 10 minutes back from Coma after a steady climb up through the standings from waypoint to waypoint. Solid rides by Craig Bounds and so far, by Simon Pavey, Luis Belaustegui, Mike Stanfield, and Jose Garcia. Jenny Morgan has not popped up on some waypoint times and many are worried as to what that could mean. Missing also is the Bultaco of Ignacio Chivite. Let's hope these are nothing more than ASO timing irregularities, or regularities as some may consider them.


No doubt Coma will want to extend his lead while Despres will look to claw it back as we move into the Atacama and what many consider the real heart of the South American Dakar. Be on the lookout for the upstarts that will soon realize that they need to stop the bleeding time deficits if they are to remain in striking distance of a win or a spot on the podium. We move into the desert, the dunes, and to some, the devastation of hopes dashed. F5's at the ready boys, it's just getting good.

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