RODRIGUES LEADS THEM HOME ON STAGE SIX
Discreet since the start in Buenos Aires, Helder Rodrigues is still capable of a major feat, as he demonstrated with his five previous stage victories on the Dakar. This figure moved up to six this evening in Iquique, after a great day for the Portuguese rider.
Ultra-consistent and ambitious, Helder Rodrigues has always fallen short when looking for outright victory on the Dakar, despite two podium finishes (in 2011 and 2012). The South American rally-raid did not seem to be smiling on him either in 2015, with so far a 10th place in the general standings which is below his expectations.
“I started very badly with my body at the beginning of this rally,” told Rodrigues. “I had three days that were not so good. On day four I had a problem with the bike due to mechanical problems.
“Of course, I’m happy and I have one week more to attack. I’m happy. If have the best time, that’s good. If I have the second time, it’s also good. I pushed a lot until I saw Marc and Joan and then I just rode to the finish and didn’t push anymore”.
However, after a 318-km special perfectly negotiated this Friday by the Portuguese rider, he now climbs to 6th in the general standings, 2’20” behind Toby Price who was the runner-up today.
The Australian, participating in his first Dakar, demonstrated a good turn of speed and also navigational talent.
Paulo Gonçalves is used to good performances on the Dakar and finally clawed back time on the Barreda/Coma duo, finishing just 1’42” behind the day’s winner. The incisive Honda rider strengthened his third place in the general standings, waiting to ambush the men ahead.
Local boy Pablo Quintanilla is also ready to take advantage of any mistakes and finished fourth in Iquique. Joan Barreda and Marc Coma again rode the stage together after a minor fall by the KTM rider at the start of the special.
“I caught up with Marc quickly and we were together all the way from then on,” told Barreda. “There were some parts fast, some stretches were harder, some were like trial, and when we got to the dunes some of the other riders caught up with us and stayed there until the end.
“The second week will see the first days in Bolivia. It’ll be tough, and also the Iquique desert will be a tricky one for the navigation. In the end, the entrance into Argentina is not likely to be easy with some stages at over 4300 metres. There is a lot of race left, but the way to do it is the one we’ve been doing up until now.”
This time it was the turn of general standings leader Barreda to take two minutes from his countryman. This battle of the elite will not involve Jordi Viladoms, whose hopes definitively went up in smoke as he finished 35 minutes behind the day’s winner.
Laia Sanz is 16th overall entering rest day.
Both Llel and Si have made it to rest day. It’s been a tough ride to get here and one’s that very much welcomed. They sit 73rd and 74th overall respectively. Well done guys.