The shortened stage suited Cyril Despres who managed to make up 2:11 on first-place Marc Coma.
Riders faced a very long and complex 622 kilometer special in Stage 11 of the 2011 Dakar Rally. It was made slightly more bearable when race organizers cut out 92 km due to terrain washing out with heavy rainfall. Even with the fatigue that comes with 11 days of racing, the general consensus was that the Argentinian route from Chilecito to San Juan was a pleasure to ride. The bikes headed out for a 164-km transfer before entering the special which featured two checkpoints and 15 waypoints.
Frenchman Cyril Despres isn’t willing to concede the rally yet. After a disappointing day on Stage 10 which left him over 18 minutes behind Marc Coma, the Red Bull KTM rider sacked up for the day’s best time of 4:33:13. Coma followed over two minutes behind which keeps the Frenchman’s hopes alive. A 16-minute deficit is entirely possible to overcome with two days of racing yet to go. Despres came out swinging and charged into the provisional lead at CP1. Francisco Lopez Contardo started the day with a realistic view of his chances and rode conservatively to maintain his third overall position. Even at a comfortable pace the Chilean was able to post the best time en route to CP2, but a slight navigational error kept him from taking the stage victory. The Aprilia rider is now almost 50 minutes behind Coma in the overall results, but comfortably ahead of fourth-place Helder Rodrigues. Rodrigues was fourth today, over two minutes back of the Aprilia of French rider, Alain Duclos.
Quinn Cody is getting comfortable with the navigation and it's starting to show in his results.
Quinn Cody is proving to be a fast learner in the Dakar Rally. After running up front before a mistake in the final kilometers dropped him to barely within the top-50 yesterday, Cody rebounded for sixth on the trip to San Juan. The Honda CRF450X rider missed clipping the top-five by only 14 seconds. Followed by Frans Verhoeven, Cody is gaining valuable experience running with the big dogs. His result moves the three-time Baja 1000 champion into ninth overall. Jonah Street is 15th overall after dropping nearly 35 minutes to the leader with an 18th result in Stage 11.
Cyril Despres (FRA – KTM) 1st, 2nd OA
“To succeed, you have to try first, and I'm trying. I'm doing everything I can, everything I know. It has to be said it was a superb special. Even if the time wasn't great, it was a pleasure to ride. In 2007; I won two days before the finish, and if I don't have a hope, it's impossible to ride at speeds like that. I'm still hoping and carrying on attacking. With Marc, we both ride KTM bikes, which is an advantage. We're quite close, but for the moment, the fat lady hasn't sung yet. There are still two days left.”
Marc Coma (ESP – KTM) 2nd, 1st OA
“Today was a great day. It was a hard day, though, and very long with a lot of rocks and dry river beds. In the end, both parts were superb and we managed to ride at a good pace. There's still tomorrow which will be a hard day, so anything is still possible. Tomorrow evening, we'll obviously be closer to the finish, but I have to make sure I get through the day okay. A calm approach is best: if something happens, then I'll just have to adapt, but if I take things professionally, then it should all be ok. I repeat: tomorrow is another long day. We'll see what happens afterwards.”
Francisco Lopez Contardo (CHL – Aprilia) 3rd, 3rd OA
Despite finishing second, Coma holds the overall lead with a fairly comfortable margin.
“I started calmly on this stage. I wanted to make sure of getting 3rd place. When I got to refueling, I was told that I was leading the special. I set off again to catch up with Marc and Cyril, but 20 km after refueling, I missed a note in the road book, and took the wrong direction for four kilometers, but what with turning back, it turned out to be eight. I didn't manage to catch them. This year, it hasn't been easy. I would have liked to have won today, but that's racing. Now my goal is Buenos Aires. I'm still happy, though.”
Alain Duclos (FRA – Aprilia) 5th, 26th OA
“The second week has actually gone well, as I planned. But it's true that it was difficult for me to get the bit between my teeth with all the problems that I had. When you set off with ambitions to be in the Top 5 and after 50 km out of 10,000 you already know you won't manage, it's hard to get back into the game. But here we are in the second week and I'm here. It's the place where I should be normally, but we didn't work well at the start. It's not a problems though, let's just say it's 10,000 km of training to be ready from the first day next year. Battling for the top places on the stages this week is good for confidence, it encourages me to work hard and not give up.”
Quinn Cody (USA – Honda) 6th, 9th OA
“I felt really good on this special. This terrain around here is exactly like on the Bajas, only way smoother. The terrain in the mountains was really similar to southern Bajas, so I feel comfortable. Every day, I'm getting more comfortable with the navigation and the road-book. I had a good time today and it was fun. I feel that I can get a good rhythm, read the road-book and ride fast at the same time. It's taken me this long to get comfortable with it, though.”
2011 Dakar Rally Stage 11 Results:
1. Cyril Despres, FRA (KTM) 04:33:13
2. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 04:35:24
3. Francisco Lopez Contardo, CHL (Aprilia) 04:39:32
4. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Yamaha) 04:40:57
5. Alain Duclos, FRA (Aprilia) 04:43:16
6. Quinn Cody, USA (Honda) 04:43:30
7. Frans Verhoeven, BEL (BMW) 04:47:15
8. Jean de Azevedo, BRA (KTM) 04:48:49
9. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (KTM) 04:48:55
10. Jordi Viladoms, ESP (Yamaha) 04:50:21
2011 Dakar Rally Overall Standings:
1. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 43:14:55
2. Cyril Despres, FRA (KTM) 43:30:54
3. Francisco Lopez Contardo, CHL (Aprilia) 44:04:19
4. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Yamaha) 44:50:05
5. Juan Pedrero Garcia, ESP (KTM) 45:57:50
6. Pal Anders Ullevalseter, NOR (KTM) 46:12:40
7. Jean de Azevedo, BRA (KTM) 46:39:26
8. Ruben Faria, PRT (KTM) 47:04:41
9. Quinn Cody, USA (Honda) 47:33:21
10. Henk Knuiman, NLD (KTM) 47:38:51
Video courtesy of Dakar.com