Riders in the 2013 Dakar Rally pressed on through Stage 11, tackling more sand dunes through the first portion of the timed section and skirting the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains during the latter half. Prior to the start of the day’s race, officials shortened the timed special by 30 kilometers for all categories, making the bikers’ trek a 191 km journey rather than the planned 221. For the second time in this contest, and for the second time in his career, American rider Kurt Caselli of KTM came through as the fastest rider of the stage, beating out Husqvarna Rally Team by Speedbrain’s Paulo Goncalves by over four minutes. Defending Dakar champ Cyril Despres rounded-out the top-three six and-a-half minutes off the lead pace.
Goncalves’ teammate, Joan Barreda, was the lead rider off the start, but by the second way-point he’d lost over five minutes and was placed 13th. He rode with lingering pain in his hand following an earlier crash and had additional issues with his left shoulder following an incident where he unexpectedly hit a hole in the ground at high speed.
“I hit a hole at high speed and felt an intense pain in my left shoulder,” said Barreda. “I had to slow the pace right down so that it wouldn’t get worse. My hand was playing up a lot too. I hope to feel better for the last three days.”
With Barreda slowing, Team HRC’s Helder Rodrigues took advantage and moved to the front early in the contest, trailed by KTM’s Chaleco Lopez and Goncalves. Caselli remained in the mix as well, having moved up from his starting position of fifth to fourth, fending off Despres, who was right on his heels. Those early kilometers proved troublesome for some of the other contestants though, namely KTM’s Ivan Jakes. 33 km into competition, the Slovakian rider ran off track after taking a turn too early. He was able to correct the mistake soon after, but his tracks in the sand led a number of others astray, including his countryman Stefan Svitko.
Out front, Caselli was picking up speed. By the 83 km mark, the American rider had moved to the front ahead of Rodrigues. Goncalves was in a close battle with KTM’s Joan Pedrero for third position and the two were followed by Husqvarna’s Alessandro Botturi less than a minute adrift in fifth.
Paulo Goncalves held a steady pace and took over the runner-up spot once Helder Rodrigues fell behind.
Caselli continued to battle with Rodrigues on the timesheet, but also made his way physically to the front of the pack, getting ahead of Barreda and Despres at the 174 km mark. Rodrigues continued to apply pressure from second, keeping within a minute of Caselli’s pace but in a heartbreaking turn of events the Honda ace was forced to stop within just a few kilometers of the finish due to mechanical issues. Thanks to the misfortune, Rodrigues dropped from second-place to 25th.
Goncalves had been in a time battle with Pedrero, Lopez and Botturi all day but he slipped into second during the final portion of the race, maintaining his multiple minute lead over Despres to the checkers.
”I rode a great race,” said Goncalves. “I’m pleased for myself and for the whole team who really worked well together in this stage. I was really up for it today, and I’d love to be able to win a stage before it’s over! I’ll keep trying. ”
Pedrero lost ground as the contest wound down, coming in fourth-place over three minutes behind Despres. Lopez took fifth just seconds behind Pedrero. Barreda limited his time loss in the stage, holding to sixth-place, followed by Botturi in seventh. Despite his early navigation errors, Jakes pulled through with an eighth-place finish while Sherco rider Alain Duclos and KTM’s Ruben Faria took ninth and 10th respectively.
In the general classification, Despres continues to lead the way, followed by Faria in second and Lopez in third. Jakes remains fourth overall, and Botturi is steady in fifth. Pedrero moved up to sixth and Yamaha’s Oliver Pain gained ground as well, taking over seventh-place. Rodrigues slipped back due to his trouble in the stage and now occupies ninth. Caselli, despite his notable showing in a number of stages, picked up over three hours of penalty time for missing way-points earlier in the contest and is in 30th overall. If he hadn’t incurred the penalty, Caselli would be sitting in sixth-place overall and have a 37-minute deficit on the lead.
2013 Dakar Rally Stage 11 Results:
La Rioja to Fiambala total distance 483 km, timed special 221 km (reduced to 191 km)
1. Kurt Caselli, USA (KTM) 2:55:01
2. Paulo Goncalves, PRT (Husq) 2:59:46
3. Cyril Despres, FRA (KTM) 3:01:25
4. Joan Pedrero, ESP (KTM) 3:05:19
5. Chaleco Lopez, CHL (KTM) 3:05:52
6. Joan Barreda, ESP (Husq) 3:06:10
7. Alessandro Botturi, ITA (Husq) 3:06:32
8. Ivan Jakes, SVK (KTM) 3:06:37
9. Alain Duclos, FRA (Sherco) 3:07:22
10. Ruben Faria, PRT (KTM) 3:13:04
2013 Dakar Rally Overall Standings after Stage 11:
1. Cyril Despres (KTM) 33:48:29
2. Ruben Faria (KTM) 34:01:45
3. Chaleco Lopez (KTM) 34:06:37
4. Ivan Jakes (KTM) 34:12:02
5. Alessandro Botturi (Husq) 34:18:01
6. Joan Pedrero (KTM) 34:32:41
7. Oliver Pain (Yamaha) 34:55:41
8. Frans Verhoeven (Yamaha) 35:03:06
9. Helder Rodrigues (Honda) 35:04:53
10. Javier Pizzolito (Honda) 35:11:42