130 riders will start stage 12. After a 392-km road section, the competitors on the Dakar 2013 will tackle a 319-km timed section. The rally will cross the Andes Mountains from the east to the west this time, via the Paso San Francisco, before dropping down into the Atacama Desert to taste all the types of difficulties that can be faced in the rally-raid discipline. For the large portions of dunes located in the middle of the special, the riders and crews must climb these “monuments” and avoid getting stuck in hollows that are just as big. On the tracks, the stage will be no easy task, since the rocks and stones, though scattered, could even bring the quickest competitors to a sudden halt. The participants who managed to reach Copiapó without making mistakes will have scored precious points in the final battle. Following the neutralisation of their special yesterday, the car and truck crews will probably have to tame their frustration, whilst the bikers, still closely grouped behind Cyril Despres, will have to battle to make the difference. The leading quad riders are relatively safe in terms of position, even if this stage is likely to count among the more decisive on the rally.
Stage 11 Recap
Stage 12 Live
Barreda to front – The Husqvarna team’s Spanish rider leads a group of riders by a short distance. Following him are Kurt Caselli, 19″ behind, Cyril Despres, 27″ behind and Juan Pedrero Garcia, 31″ behind. There have not been any major developments so far by this point, at only a tenth of the stage’s total distance.
American Johnny Campbell stopped for several minutes on the special just before the 25-km point, but has just started off again.
Barreda – The Spaniard’s lead has swollen to 1’17” over Francisco Lopez. Juan Pedrero Garcia is only 1’26” behind Barreda, whilst Cyril Despres trails the Spanish rider by 1’46”. Portugal’s Paulo Gonçalves is in fourth and American Kurt Caselli is in fifth, respectively 4’13” and 4’23” behind the stage leader.
Yamahas – Portugal’s Ruben Faria has slipped into fourth place in the provisional positions on the special, 1’34” behind the leader. Olivier Pain lies in sixth place, 2’15” behind Barreda. Ivan Jakes (2’21” behind the stage leader) and Alessandro Botturi (2’23” behind the stage leader) occupy 7th and 8th place respectively.
CP3 – No real change, Botturi moves to 4th, Caselli looks to be moving forward also
Just before the half-way point, Joan Barreda leads the bikers, having taken advantage of a starting position slightly down the order. He boasts a lead of 2’28” over Francisco Lopez, 3’47” over Juan Pedrero Garcia and 5’25” over Cyril Despres. At present, Kurt Caselli has lost 9’19” to the stage leader, having opened the road on the first portions of the special. He has been caught by the stage leaders and they are now riding together.
Botturi Off Course – The Italian is heading west after 155 km of the special, a little too early according to the indications in the road-book. He is moving away from the special stage route, but is also making tracks that could lead the riders behind him astray.
CP4 – Except for Botturi, things are unchanged. It looks like the entire lead group is riding together, including Caselli and Despres with Barreda. Jakes has moved up to join them. The times are staying close for the moment. With Kurt losing 9 minutes to the leaders, that puts him way down in the stage overall. With his two stage wins behind him, I suspect he will now be working to shadow Despres to the overall win.
Johnny Campbell has cleared CP2, some 20 minutes down. Riding with injured ribs is surely making the going difficult for him. Laia Sanz came through in 35th.
Barreda wrong way – After 201 km, the Spanish rider headed a bit too far north and had to turn round. He was in the lead but may be in the process of losing his position to Francisco Lopez.
Ruben Faria is now in front, leading Francisco Lopez by 9″, Frans Verhoeven by 23″ and Juan Pedrero Garcia by 5’13”. Alain Duclos is in fifth, 2’33” behind the stage leader and 17″ ahead of Ivan Jakes. Following his navigation problems, Joan Barreda is in eighth place.
CP6 – Faria, Chaleco, Duclos, Pedrero, Barreda, It still looks as if most of the top runners are together, time gaps are holding steady.
CP7 – Faria, Duclos, Barreda, Chaleco, Jakes, Despres 8 min back of lead, Caselli 12 min
Darryl Curtis and Campbell are two riders really struggling to continue with injuries today, both have cleared CP4. Curtis “Had a monster crash today, hit a ditch, hurt my shoulder badly, my back and arm. Will try start tomorrow and finish the stage.” “I’m riding…thanks for all your support. Details later.”
Finish – Top ten riders have reached the finish, provisional win looks like it might go to Yamaha’s Frans Verhoeven, followed by Faria, Barreda, Duclos, Chaleco. Despres finishes 9 minutes back and Caselli 13 minutes behind leaders. Despres keeps the overall lead, but just by the slimmest of margins, 5 min over Faria.
Gas Gas rider Marc Guasch seems to have problems. He started the day, but does not show has having reached CP1 yet.