Chaleco Lopez took the win in Stage 13 and moved to second overall behind fellow KTM rider, Cyril Despres.
Competitors reached the Pacific Coast once again in Stage 13 of the 2013 Dakar Rally, the penultimate stage of this year’s competition and the last to feature the difficult sand dunes that have proved challenging to a number of riders over the course of the contest so far. Following the dunes, riders faced every type of terrain possible and in the end it was KTM’s Chaleco Lopez, still pushing for an overall win, who took the stage by over five minutes ahead of defending Dakar champ Cyril Despres. Husqvarna Rally Team by Speedbrain’s Paulo Goncalves trailed by an additional four seconds to finish in third.
Stage 12 winner, Frans Verhoeven, led the way off the start of the 441-kilometer special stage, and it wasn’t long that he faced pressure for the lead from a number of riders. Goncalves’ teammate, Joan Barreda, took over the front 69 km into competition, followed by KTM’s Ruben Faria in second. Verhoeven held to third in a short lived bid to remain inside the top-five.
Just a few kilometers later, Barreda continued to lead but now had Faria and Despres trailing. Verhoeven held on and continued to battle, sneaking back into third at the 153 km mark. At that point, Despres began to relent in his charge, settling into sixth, but he would soon pull the throttle once again. 190 km into the race, the French rider was fastest ahead of a new second-placed rider, KTM’s Kurt Caselli. Lopez, too, had mounted an attack and was up to third.
Kurt Caselli was in position to place high in Stage 13 until engine trouble stalled him just before the finish.
Caselli, Lopez and Despres traded position a number of times in the lead up to the fourth checkpoint, and by CP4, just over 200 km into the race, the American had taken over the front, though he only had a few seconds’ advantage over Lopez and Despres.
Halfway through the race, Caselli remained in the lead followed by Despres in second and Lopez in third. KTM’s Joan Pedrero had moved into fourth while Goncalves was riding in fifth followed by Team HRC’s Helder Rodrigues in sixth.
Kicking off the second half, Lopez moved to the front and was cutting huge amounts of time off his overall classification, gaining over 11 minutes on then second-place rider Faria. Caselli and Despres weren’t far behind though and Caselli soon regained the lead, only to be stalled 396 km into the race with engine problems.
Lopez took the opening once Caselli dropped his pace and came across the finish line the fastest rider of the day. Behind Despres and Goncalves, Pedrero finished in fourth, followed by Barreda in fifth and Rodrigues in sixth. KTM rider Ivan Jakes took seventh, followed by Yamaha’s Oliver Pain in eighth.
Despres continues to lead overall, but now had Lopez to contend with in second. The Chilean rider trails Despres by just over eight minutes with one day left in competition. Faria dropped to third, followed by Jakes in fourth and Pedrero in fifth.
Cyril Despres took second in Stage 13 and remains the overall leader by over eight minutes ahead of Chaleco Lopez.
2013 Dakar Rally Stage 13 Results
Copiapo – La Serena: total distance 735 km, timed special 441 km
1. Chaleco Lopez, CHL (KTM) 3:44:54
2. Cyril Despres, FRA (KTM) 3:50:19
3. Paulo Goncalves, PRT (Husq) 3:50:23
4. Joan Pedrero, ESP (KTM) 3:52:36
5. Joan Barreda, ESP (Husq) 3:53:36
6. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Honda) 3:54:31
7. Ivan Jakes, SVK (KTM) 3:54:48
8. Oliver Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 3:55:04
9. Jakub Przygonski, POL (KTM) 3:55:56
10. Gerard Farres Guell, ESP (Honda) 3:56:13
2013 Dakar Rally Overall Standings after Stage 13
1. Cyril Despres (KTM) 41:37:18
2. Chaleco Lopez (KTM) 41:45:33
3. Ruben Faria (KTM) 41:51:59
4. Ivan Jakes (KTM) 42:02:03
5. Joan Pedrero (KTM) 42:20:49
6. Oliver Pain (Yamaha) 42:45:32
7. Helder Rodrigues (Honda) 42:52:14
8. Javier Pizzolito (Honda) 43:03:41
9. Frans Verhoeven (Yamaha) 43:05:12
10. Paulo Goncalves (Husq) 43:07:04