From KTM- DESPRES OVERALL DAKAR LEADER AFTER STAGE THREE
Red Bull KTM factory rider and reigning title-holder Cyril Despres on Monday assumed his natural habitat at the head of the overall standings in the 2013 Dakar Rally. Despres, who finished third in Stage Three, vaulted from fifth overall into the premiere place on Day Three of this marathon event.
Despres now holds a 2 minute 51 second overall lead over Chaleco Lopez (KTM) while evergreen KTM rider Pal-Anders Ullevalseter of Norway in third place, four minutes 59 behind the leader. Lopez made a big charge from back in the field to win Stage Three ahead of Paolo Goncalves of Portugal while Despres was third. Jakub Przygonski of the KTM Factory B Team had a good day out finishing fifth in the stage to improve his overall position to tenth.
Stage Three, which took riders over some of the most spectacular sections of the desert of southern Peru shook up the standing order and saw Stage Two winner and overall leader Joan Barreda Bort slip back to overall eighteenth. It also saw the two KTM Factory Team’s support riders, Ruben Faria and Joan Pedrero, pay the price for being amongst the first to start this morning. Ruben Faria is now eleventh overall and teammate Joan Pedrero is now twenty-third. South African Darryl Curtis of the KTM Factory B Team fared better and is now thirteenth overall and his teammate Riaan Van Niekerk is twenty-fifth. Kurt Caselli, the factory team’s rookie entrant riding for the injured Marc Coma was a very creditable nineteenth place overall after Stage Three.
The highly experienced Despres, going for his fifth Dakar title continues to ride his skillful and tactical race and this paid off for him in Monday’s conditions. Riders had only a brief liaison before launching into the soft sand and unpredictable dunes that lived up to the organizers’ promise that the opening stages of this over 8000 km marathon would be very tough. Riders tackled steeper and more difficult dunes in the first half of the day before entering rolling terrain in the second half of the stage.
Despres was happy to take over top spot on the overall list and said he had “a fairly good special”. “I think I made significant progress in the general classification today. I started in twelfth place but I soon caught up with the leaders and I was at the front of the race from km 190 onwards. Considering that I started 20 minutes after Barreda and Pedrero, I think I did quite well!”
Lopez said Stage Three had been very different from the first two days ride. “I started from right back in the field and I went flat out right through the stage to try to catch Cyril. I focused on navigating and finding the waypoints, and everything went well. But tomorrow’s stage will be different at the front of the race, so I’m taking things one day at a time.”
Factory team manager Alex Doringer said he was satisfied with his riders. “We now have Cyril in the overall lead and also Kuba Przygonski did a great job and made up a lot of places today. It was a tough day of navigating and this cost Ruben (Faria) and Joan (Pedrero) some places. We are also very proud of Kurt Caselli and what he is doing in his first ever Dakar and Darryl Curtis on our B Team is doing a fantastic job. With all our riders in good shape and no technical problems we’re looking forward to another tough day tomorrow.” The KTM Factory riders are all on KTM 450 Rally machines.
Stage Four takes riders from Nazca to Arequipa for a total distance of 343 km, 243 km of which is another difficult timed section.
Husqvarna – Paulo Goncalves second in the stage.
The Dakar marathon continues heading south reaching Nazca, famous for its enigmatic lines designing geometric shapes, animals and human figures visible only from the sky.
It was another demanding day for the riders with a 243-km long stage, characterized by fast tracks split by big dunes of white sands that are similar to the Mauritanian desert for their softness and difficulty, it is very easy to get stuck in this sand.
Chaleco Lopez claimed today’s stage win, gaining his second stage victory for this 2013 Dakar, ahead of Paolo Goncalves and Cyril Despres, who leads the general classification by 2’51” over Francisco López, second and 4’59” over Ullevalseter, third.
It was a positive day for Javier Pizzolito, who secured his position in the top 10, finishing 7’39” behind the stage winner, while it was a difficult stage for his team mates, with Helder Rodrigues finishing 33rd because of a fuel problem that made him lose almost 20 minutes after a strong performance in the dunes that saw the Honda rider catching Cyril Despres.
A tough day also for Johnny Campbell who was obliged to stop at km 20 of the special as a result of a mechanical problem. Johnny succeeded in repairing the machine and continued his race, but lost a lot of time and energy in the heat of the Nazca Desert, making drop into the 158th position.
Javier Pizzolito SS3 10th +7’08”, 21st in the Overall: “I started 50th and there was a lot of dust and fech fech at the beginning so I tried to do more “off piste” to recover positions. When the way was clear I started to push and finishing 10th is a good result. It was a varied stage with some hard ground, fast track, big soft dunes and fech fech. I’m confident for tomorrow and my target is to do a good team result”.
Helder Rodrigues SS3 33rd +25’24, 28th in the Overall: “It was another difficult day for me. At the beginning there was a lot of dust and fech fech so I couldn’t attack. Then I started to push and in the middle of the stage I caught Cyril. I was aiming to get a good result but I suffered again a fuel issue and I lost almost 20 minutes. It’s a real pity but Dakar is still long and we will work with the team to try and find some solutions”.
Johnny Campbell SS3 158th +4h19’39, 146th in the Overall: “It was supposed to be a short day but it became a long one for me. Early in the stage the bike had some hesitations and at km 20 I had to stop and diagnose the problem. It was an issue with the fuel pump and I had to replace it. It took me a long time to fix the problem. Then the bike was ok but after 140 km I was struggling again so I had to ride conservative to finish the stage and arrive at the bivouac”.
Henk Hellegers, Team HRC Manager: “It has been a difficult start for Team HRC, especially for Helder. Yesterday and today’s stages were two very long special in the deep dunes and hot temperature. We will analyse the information and will look for a solution to give Helder, Javier and Johnny the best possible bike”.
Javier Pizzolito is now 21st in the Overall standing, while two problems in the second and third stage obliged Helder to concede 24’58” to the leader Cyril Despres. Johnny drops from 35th to into 146th position
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