Stage 2 reshuffles, wreaks havoc

Your luck can change in an instant and no one in the world can relate more to these words than Red Bull KTM rider Sam Sunderland.

Claiming the top step of the podium after stage one at Dakar 2015 meant nothing as poor Sunderland lost his overnight lead and more importantly, any hope of being crowned Dakar champion. The Brit, who started the second day of racing with a 5 second advantage over Honda’s Paulo Gonçalves, lost around two-and-a-half hours after deviating from the prescribed route, 70 kilometres from the finish.

The longest stage this year, a gruelling 518 kilometers between Villa Carlos Paz and San Juan in Argentina, saw the pack being reshuffled properly as Honda riders Joan Barreda Bort (Spain) and  (Portugal) now occupy first and second places respectively in the overall standings. Red Bull KTM rider Ruben Faria (Portugal) finished third despite suffering shoulder pains caused by his collar bone, which he broke in November.

Barreda Bort was predictably satisfied with the day’s result: “I am really happy. Today was amazing. It was really hard, really tough in the last part of special with a lot of tracks and a lot of bumps and it was so physical. But today was one of these days where it is important to get to the finish and we’ve got here so we are really happy. I was alone in some parts, but the most important was to remain calm over the first kilometres and finally we did a really good job. I think it’s a good opportunity for victory but the race is really close, so if we can perform like today and gain some minutes and seconds, then it’s very important,” he said.

The 2014 champion Marc Coma ended 12 minutes behind his fellow countryman, Barreda Bort and has a lot of work cut out on stage three to decrease the deficit.

“We know that today was a very tough day. We started in the morning with a good feeling, not pushing too hard because we knew it was a long day. But on the other side, I felt that 60 km from the end my rear tyre was finished and I started to ride no faster than 60 km/h, no faster than that. OK, we lost some time today, but at the end I’m lucky because normally I could have stayed stuck in the desert all day,” Coma said.

South African Riaan van Niekerk, who took a roll in some barbed wire in stage one, worked hard to improve his overnight position from 22nd to 15th overall.

Here are the top three Standings after stage 2.

BARREDA BORT    HONDA             05:46:06

GONÇALVES             HONDA           +00:06:13

FARIA                          KTM                 +00:09:16

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Sam Sunderland in action during Stage 2.

Report by Simon Sonnekus

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