Chilean Chaleco Lopez was the fastest of the three top KTM factory riders competing in Stage Three of the Desafio Ruta 40 Rally in Argentina on Wednesday coming home second in the stage and assuming third overall after just two days of competition. The first stage was canceled due to adverse conditions.
Not so lucky was the team’s number one rider Marc Coma, the current World Cross Countries Champion and multi Dakar Rally winner. Coma ran out of fuel just three km from the refueling stop and American teammate Kurt Caselli stopped to give him enough to see him through. This delay cost time for both riders and at the end of the day Caselli came in sixth in the stage some 13 minutes off the leader Javier Pizzolito of Argentina and Coma was seventh, trailing by 18 minutes 34 seconds.
Coma: “I had a problem with the fuel pressure that has forced me to stop at the 300 km mark of the special. Luckily, Kurt (Caselli) came along and with his help I was able to to finish the stage, but at a much lower rate. It was a shame because I was going well and hoped to be able to make up the difference. I passed Hélder (Rodrigues – the Stage 2 leader) in the first few kilometers. I then I He had opened the track ], which has made a navigational error. I made some navigation errors but the truth is, it was fine, despite the difficulty of the stage.” Coma said it will be an uphill struggle to try to win the rally, saying: “You cant win a rally like this if you give away time like we did today but I will keep on fighting. The mechanics are already working to analyze the problem and will fix it for tomorrow. ”
Meanwhile Lopez is just four minutes off Pizzolito’s overall time, Caselli is overall fifth and trails by 11 minutes 23 and Coma is seventh with a deficit of just under 15 minutes.
Riders had to count on their navigation skills in Stage Three made up of two timed sections separated by a neutral zone of of 30 km. The ride took them to a higher altitude and the terrain switched to a drier and sandy surface. The first part passed through rough track and then after the neutral sector they had to pass through a dry river bed and dunes, again with plenty of navigation skills called for. At the end of the day they were in a section of dunes and soft sand. Riders covered a total of 713.29 km from Catamarca to Belin, 466.17 of which was timed special.
The Desafio Ruta 40 is not only part of the Dakar Challenge Series it is also the fourth leg of the official FIM World Cross Countries Rally Championship. Coma has already won the first three rallies and is aiming for a good finish to add to his points in this competition. The next leg is in Brazil at the Rally dos Sertoes in July and the final leg is the Pharaoh’s Rally in Egypt.
Stage Four takes competitors from Belin to Chilecito a total distance of 586.73 km, including a 192.32 timed special.
Stage 3 results:
1, Javier Pizzolito, Argentina, Honda
2, Chaleco Lopez, Chile, KTM at 5’46”
3, Paolo Goncalves, Portugal, Speedbrain at 7’10”
4, David Casteu, France, Yamaha at 10’37”
5, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Honda at 11’32”
6, Kurt Caselli, USA, KTM at 13.00
7, Pablo Quintanilla, Chile, KTM at 17’34”
8, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM at 18’34”
9, Juan Carlos Salvatierra, Bolivia Speedbrain at 24’48”
10, Felipe Prohens, Chile at 28’42”
Overall after Stage 3
1, Pizzolito 11 hours 00.53
2, Goncalves, at 3.51
3, Lopez, at 401
4, Rodrigues, at 6.09
5, Casteu, at 11.23
6, Caselli, at 12.31
7, Coma, at 14.51
8, Quintanilla, at 33.44
9, Prohens, at 46.08
10, Salvatierra, at 46.34
Image courtesy KTM Racing