Mud! It’s not something you normally associate with the Dakar but there’s tons of it on Stage 8 and among the victims is leader Cyril Despres who gets stuck, drops a shedload of time and slips to second behind team-mate Marc Coma. Here’s the KTM press release…

Dakar 2012 race officials have adjusted times for riders trapped in mud on Stage 8, one of which was KTM factory rider Cyril Despres. According to the adjusted times, KTM’s Marc Coma still wins the stage and leads the rally but he is now just one minute 26 seconds ahead of Despres in the overall standings.

The two KTM riders have so far dominated the 2012 edition of the rally but the stage saw Despres and other riders bogged down in mud that had not been marked on the road book that guides riders. Despres, overall leader at the halfway mark of the rally, had to sacrifice around 12 minutes in his efforts to extract himself from the hazard while team-mate Coma was not as badly affected. It was Coma’s 20th Dakar Stage victory in his career and the fourth in the 2012 edition. Both he and Despres are vying for their fourth Dakar title.
Speaking from the bivouac after the stage, Team Manager Alex Doringer said that while KTM welcomed the race officials’ decision to compensate the riders and reinstate times the company felt that Coma should have also had some time credited because he was also affected if to a lesser degree than his team-mate. “We welcome the fact that Cyril’s times have been reinstated but we feel that if this decision was based on sporting fairness then Marc’s time should also have been adjusted.”


The mud had occurred in between the time that the official inspection of the stage had taken place and the actual start of the stage and this was the reason it was not marked on the road book.
The eighth stage, the first after the one rest day at Copiapo in Chile, included the longest timed special in the 2012 edition taking riders 477km. It was set between two liaison stretches that took them to 3,000 metes above sea level. Riders were on their bikes for a massive 722km by the time they got to the finish at Antofagasta on the Chilean coast.

In the day’s standings KTM factory rider Rubin Faria was second to Coma and after the time adjustment, Portugal’s Helder Rodrigues moved into third place. Despres ranked ninth but he and Coma still dominate the overall standings. Rodrigues is third overall but he trails the two KTM riders by some 49 minutes.

Coma said at the end of the ride that he had been lucky to avoid the mud that reversed the fortunes of his team-mate. “It was a very long special,” he said. “I was lucky not to lose too much time in the mud and then I saw I could open a gap so I attacked really hard. This is my 20th special victory. That’s a nice figure but it’s not winning the special that count, it’s winning the race. And I know there is still a long week of racing ahead.”