Cyril Despres took another stage victory and extends his lead over Marc Coma as the Dakar Rally enters Peru.
Cyril Despres took another critical stage victory in the 2012 Dakar Rally. The Frenchman extended his overall lead with the Stage 11 win, Despres now 2:22 ahead of his KTM teammate and rival Marc Coma. The Catalan placed third on the day, with Spaniard Gerard Farres Guell claiming second, his best stage finish of the ’12 rally.
The real battle in these latter stages is the strategic duel between the front-running duo of Despres and Coma. Riders leave the start at two minute intervals, with the stage winner having to navigate solo while pursuing riders can follow the leader’s tracks. As such, Despres and Coma take turns nipping at the other, gaining and losing time often by the two minute intervals separating the first and second starting positions.
Despres took advantage today, as Coma left one position ahead of his nominal teammate. Despres caught up to his rival and followed. Both riders initially followed Husqvarna’s Joan Barreda Bort, who kicked off the morning action as the surprising Stage 10 winner.
Stage 11 featured a long 534-kilometer special, and the day also marked the first ever Dakar race in Peru, the route stretching from Arica to Arequipa. Bort, Despres and Coma all stumbled with navigation issues in the early going. This opened the door for KTM riders Farres Guell and Frenchman Johnny Aubert. Despres would recover to retake the lead, with Farres Guell and Coma in pursuit.
Marc Coma dropped more than two minutes behind his rival after struggling with navigation during Stage 11.
Despres went on claim his fourth stage win of this year’s Dakar, 1:39 ahead of Farres Guell. Coma trailed 2:01 behind the leader for third. Regular World Enduro competitor, Aubert, held on for a respectable fourth, 3:30 behind Despres. As for the preceding stage winner, Barreda Bort placed fifth – just under five minutes off the pace.
The third-place result actually improves Coma’s chances of gaining ground in the overall. A bit of strategy at play, perhaps, as his fellow Spaniard Farres Guell’s second-place result now gives Coma an opportunity to gain four minutes on Despres instead of two as they chase down the factory KTM pilot tomorrow.
Overall Despres and Coma are more than an hour ahead of their nearest rival, Yamaha’s Helder Rodrigues. The Portuguese rider is 16 minutes ahead of Spaniard Jordi Viladoms in the battle for final rostrum position in the overall. Viladoms did carve about two minutes into Rodrigues’ advantage, however, finishing seventh on the day, one position ahead of his currently podium-bound rival.
2012 Dakar Rally Stage 11 Results:
1. Cyril Despres,FRA (KTM) 4:03:37
2. Gerard Farres Guell, SPA (KTM) 4:05:16
3. Marc Coma, SPA (KTM) 4:05:38
Husqvarna’s Joan Barreda followed his win in Stage 10 with another strong result after finishing fifth.
4. Johnny Aubert, FRA (KTM) 4:07:07
5. Joan Barreda, SPA (Husqvarna) 4:08:30
6. Felipe Zanol, BRA (KTM) 4:09:14
7. Jordi Viladoms, SPA (KTM) 4:09:31
8. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Yamaha) 4:11:21
9. Pal Anders Ullevalseter, NOR (KTM) 4:11:21
10. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 4:13:55
2012 Dakar Rally Overall Standings:
1. Cyril Despres,FRA (KTM) 13:11:16
2. Marc Coma, SPA (KTM) 13:13:38
3. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Yamaha) 14:19:56
4. Jordi Viladoms, SPA (KTM) 14:36:02
5. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 14:46:12
6. Gerard Farres Guell, SPA (KTM) 14:48:16
7. Pal Anders Ullevalseter, NOR (KTM) 15:15:22
8. Alessandro Botturi, ITA (KTM) 15:40:42
9. Oliver Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 15:51:31
10. Felipe Zanol, BRA (KTM) 16:20:53