Cyril Despres (above) now has an 11-minute advantage over Marc Coma with only one stage remaining.
The standings in the 2012 Dakar Rally
took another turn today as Yamaha
’s Helder Rodrigues posted his fifth career win during Stage 13. While Rodrigues may have crossed the finish line first, all eyes were on Frenchman Cyril Despres, however, as he secured a major advantage during the penultimate round after capitalizing on his rival’s mistakes. Claiming runner-up just 47 seconds behind Rodrigues, Despres heads into the final round tomorrow with an 11-minute advantage over Marc Coma.
The penultimate stage from Nazca to Pisco featured 275 kilometers against the clock along the dunes of the pacific coast. While en route to begin the special, the starting order was KTM
's Marc Coma followed by Husqvarna
's Joan Barreda Bort, Viladoms and Despres. Only 95 kilometers into the first section Despres was gaining ground on Coma, and by the first checkpoint the Frenchman had overtaken his rival for the lead with Bort, Rodrigues, Paulo Gonçalves, Viladoms and Coma all following. After failing to turn as indicated in the road book, Bort lost a few minutes while Despres and Coma remained on course and determined to outpace each other.
Nearing the 186-km mark Despres’ lead was gradually shrinking over Coma as the field entered the dunes near Santiago. Still, the Frenchman remained more than two minutes ahead. But Coma’s performance took a sudden turn for the worst after he became lost in the final portion of the special. While making his way back to the original course, Viladoms jumped into the lead ahead of Bort. However, more trouble was in store for Coma as navigation errors continued to plague the Spaniard along with gearbox issues. After 232 kilometers he was nearly seven minutes off the pace of Despres.
Marc Coma made several navigation errors in Stage 13 and struggled with gearbox issues on his KTM 450 Rally Bike.
In the end the entire rally may have been lost for Coma on the dunes today after finishing more than 13 minutes behind the leader and more than 12 minutes off the pace of Despres. With only a 29 kilometer special scheduled for the final day, it is likely the Frenchman’s advantage will hold for the win. Meanwhile Viladoms recorded his second podium in a row ahead of Bort. Despite Viladoms recent success, however, the Spaniard still remains well off the pace of the podium as Rodrigues is set to record a top-three spot after taking the victory in Stage 13.
Stage 14 will feature the rally’s final special on the way to Lima. Tracks and small dunes will round out the remaining obstacles for competitors this year as the 2012 Dakar Rally closes in on the finish line.
Helder Rodrigues (PRT – Yamaha) 1st, 3rd OA
“A stage win is always great, and finishing on the overall podium is also cool. I might have been able to perform better in certain stages, but I had a few little problems and it was impossible for me to win. But today I gained some time on Cyril and Marc, I rode very fast. That is good. I may be able to do better next year. We can do it, if we work hard with our team all year round. I may take the new motorcycle. First, I will have to test it, and then we will see.”
Cyril Despres (FRA – KTM) 2nd, 1st OA
“I am not the kind of person who derives pleasure from the problems of teammates, and even less when it is Marc Coma who is in trouble. I started with the knife between my teeth, knowing he would do the same thing. I took no risks but tried to gain ground on other riders in turns. At the refueling station I saw I had clawed back 5 minutes from Marc. I then got lost a couple of times; it was never a big problem but I had to stay focused. Today's stage was psychologically very tough. I always wait until the last day to enjoy things. I have seen so many things happen at the Dakar, and even more today. I want to stay calm and enjoy things a bit more.”
Marc Coma (ESP – KTM) 18th, 2nd OA
“I started very fast, as fast as I could, because I knew it would be difficult to stay in the lead of the rally. 25 km into the stage I had a mechanical problem which forced me to slow down. It was a gearbox problem and I feared I would not be able to continue. So I am happy to be here, in second position, which is quite good. I fought throughout the entire rally and gave it everything I got at all times. That is the way it is. I am disappointed because I was not able to fight until the end.”
2012 Dakar Rally Stage 13 Results:
1. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Yamaha) 03:21:16
By taking the win in the penultimate stage Yamaha's Helder Rodrigues has solidified a top-three finish in the rally.
2. Cyril Despres, FRA (KTM) 03:22:03
3. Jordi Viladoms, ESP (KTM) 03:24:16
4. Joan Barreda Bort, ESP (Husqvarna) 03:26:29
5. Paulo Goncalves, PRT (Husqvarna) 03:27:02
6. Pal Anders Ullevalseter, NOR (KTM) 03:27:11
7. Alessandro Botturi, ITA (KTM) 03:27:48
8. Frans Verhoeven, NLD (Sherco) 03:27:54
9. Ruben Faria, PRT (KTM) 03:28:22
10. Daniel Schroder, DEU (KTM) 03:29:30
2012 Dakar Rally Overall Standings:
1. Cyril Despres, FRA (KTM) 43:01:54
2. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 43:12:57
3. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Yamaha) 44:13:21
4. Jordi Viladoms, ESP (KTM) 44:43:06
5. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 44:51:30
6. Pal Anders Ullevalseter, NOR (KTM) 45:17:41
7. Gerard Farres Guell, SPA (KTM) 45:18:06
8. Alessandro Botturi, ITA (KTM) 46:02:38
9. Olivier Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 46:20:40
10. Felipe Zanol, BRA (KTM) 46:26:31