He'd been waiting for a great day ever since the race started in Lima. And today was it! After starting in 11th place this morning and over 24 minutes behind the overall leader, Cyril Despres delivered a skilful performance throughout the ninth stage.
Attacking from the beginning, the Frenchman dosed his effort to preserve his tyres and then stepped it up again in the finale to claim his 31st career win in the Dakar by four minutes from Husqvarna’s Joan Barreda.
Despite an early fall, Barreda was the only rider who came close to challenging the Frenchman and finished second. Adding to Husqvarna’s delight Alessandro Botturi finished just one minute and 11 seconds behind.
He wasn't the only one to fall, as the Yamahas can tell you! The overall leader in Tucumán, David Casteu, crashed into a cow when tackling a turn 120 km into the special. This left the rider from Nice with a dislocated right shoulder and a damaged motorcycle, a situation, which became a full-blown nightmare when a mechanical failure 15 km from the finish line cost him several hours. Casteu made it to the end of the special on foot, but this is the end of the road for him.
Teammate Olivier also hit the deck several times, losing about 32 seconds and slipped back to sixth overall.
The least unlucky of them all was KTM’s Chaleco López, who also fell, losing 16 minutes to Despres.
This crazy stage has turned the overall on its head. Rubien Faria (KTM), who just happens to be Cyril Despres' water carrier now leads his teammate. Will team tactics come into play? Have things just got much easier for the defending champion?
Behind them, López is still in third place but 9 minutes down after a successful damage limitation exercise.
The madness that is Dakar continues…
Results – Stage 9
1. Cyril Despres (KTM) 05:41:36; 2. Joan Barreda (Husqvarna) 05:45:39; 3. Alessandro Botturi (Husqvarna) 05:45:50; 4. Rubien Faria (KTM) 05:49:23; 5. Helder Rodrigues (Honda) 05:50:23…
Overall Results (After stage 9)
1. Rubien Faria (KTM) 25:57:12; 2. Cyril Despres (KTM) 26:02:35; 3. Chaleco Lopez (KTM) 26:06:15; 4. Ivan Jakes (KTM) 26:14:08; 5. Alessandro Botturi (Husqvarna) 26:20:10… 29. Stan Watt (KTM) 28:48:07; 33. Tim Forman (KTM) 28:55:48; 46. Lyndon Poskitt (KTM) 30:44:57; 64. James West (Sherco) 32:38:02; 66. Si Pavey 32:43:28; 90. Craig Bounds (KTM) 35:05:07…