137 Riders start today. After a 90-km link stage, the 441-km of the special will not be a trivial matter. Plenty of surprises could still occur on the Dakar 2013. The start on the road section will be relatively late: the timetable takes account of the mercurial weather conditions in the area. The “Camanchaca” hangs over the first part of the morning in general, so it will only be once this thick fog has dissipated that the first bikes will tackle the last dunes on the rally. The sandy part accounts for a third of the special’s length. Thereafter, the rally will head south, on wide tracks which can sometimes hide rocks that can shatter dreams. On the morning of this penultimate stage of the Dakar 2013, it can be considered that the situation is under control in the quad and car categories where Marcos Patronelli and Stéphane Peterhansel both boast comfortable leads. In the truck race, the three Kamaz leading the category could still witness attacks, even if overall victory seems to be within their grasp. On two wheels, however, with five pilots within a bracket of one hour, everything is still mathematically possible, even though the impression is clearly advantageous to the official KTM riders.
After 153 km, the Spaniard, also recorded in the lead after 123 km, is again out in front at CP2, with a lead of 1’17” over Ruben Faria and 1’32” over Frans Verhoeven. Of course, the arrival of other competitors, in particular Cyril Despres, will give a clearer picture of the race order.
Riding with Ivan Jakes and Juan Pedrero Garcia, Cyril Despres is holding back a little after 153 km, where he occupies sixth place, 2’13” behind Joan Barreda. Ruben Faria lies 1’17” behind the stage leader, Francisco Lopez trails Barreda by 1’30”, whilst Frans Verhoeven and Kurt Caselli are both 1’31” behind the Spaniard, in joint fourth position.
For the second time, Cyril Despres leads the special stage. The Frenchman took command after 163 km, ahead of American Kurt Caselli by a handful of seconds. Third place is occupied by his main rival in the general standings, Francisco Lopez; 2’09” behind.
CP7 – Kurt Caselli goes to lead by 11 seconds of Despres. Chaleco is 1 second further back, so it is anyone’s guess as to where they will end up. Up ahead is the gas stop and then a short transfer section before heading into the last stage of the day. So it will be a while before the riders are back on the gas.
CP8 – Gas stop and start of liason, Caselli, Depres, Chaleco, Pedrero, Gonclaves, Rodrigues, Jakes, Ullevalester, Pain.
The American is in the lead at the end of the first portion of the special, with a lead of 19 seconds over Cyril Despres and 42″ over the third placed rider, Chilean Francisco Lopez. Behind the trio, Juan Pedrero Garcia occupies fourth place, 1’49” off the lead, followed by Paulo Gonçalves in fifth, 2’17” off the lead, Hélder Rodrigues in sixth, 2’34” of the lead, and Ivan Jakes in seventh, 4’27” behind the current stage leader.
CP10 – Caselli by 1:21 over Chaleco, Despres, Gonclaves, Pedrero, Jakes, Pain
The big loser for the day appears to be Ruben Faria, he has lost a considerable amount of time and it is enough to drop him from the second overall position. Chaleco Lopez moves in to second overall.
Problems for Caselli – The leader of the bike special, American Kurt Caselli, has ground to a halt after 396 km, apparently due to engine problems.
Duclos Stopped – The French Sherco rider has been at a standstill, just before the 341-km point, for almost one hour. The bike and rider are just off to the side of the tracks in an earthy zone.
Finish – Chaleco Lopez is the first to arrive and it looks like he will get the stage win. Despres should be in shortly, he is running about 4 minutes behind for the day, minimizing the attach from Chaleco. A disasterous day for Faria, losing 14 minutes on the day and his second place position. He is 6 minutes down to Chaleco with only one stage left.
Caselli has arrived at CP11 and appears to be heading towards stage finish.