Kurt Caselli – La Serena Revisited. No, I do not have any quotes from Kurt for today. But I can imagine how gutted he must feel, after leading much of the stage, only to suffer mechanical problems and finish 97th for the day. But maybe there is something else to it. While this is Kurt’s first Dakar, it is not his first trip to La Serena Chile. Kurt rode the 2007 ISDE here. He rode very well, but it also ended somewhat bittersweet. Kurt battled all week with Johnny Aubert for the overall win. Kurt’s 300 was just the ticket for the deep sand tests on the beaches and dunes. But a less than stellar day 5 gave the ISDE win to Aubert. I can’t help but wonder if Kurt is thinking that La Serena might not be the luckiest place for him. By the way, it is a beautiful place and great location to travel to.
Chaleco Lopez Stage Winner – Today, on the special, the first part was very hard with a lot of navigation. The second part was very fast. Today was a very good day; tomorrow the next special will be technical in La Serena. But I think I always go to Santiago in a very happy mood. Imagine being capable of winning in my country, that’s motivation for the finish. All the people here, it’s great. If it’s not possible to get on top of the podium, I’m already very happy as it stands.
From KTM – Red Bull KTM factory rider Cyril Despres of France got down to the serious business of the Dakar on Friday in the penultimate stage of the 2013 edition managing to extend his overall lead to eight minutes 15 as he chases his fifth Dakar title going into Saturday’s final stage.
After another 440 km of timed special, Despres finished second to Chilean KTM rider Chaleco Lopez, who won the stage five minutes 25 ahead of Despres. This sets the stage for a final dash to the finish between these two KTM riders when they complete the more than 8000 km charge from Lima to Santiago, Chile via Argentina. Despres must go into the final stage bearing in mind that Chaleco is a formidable threat on his home ground. The Chilean rider has a record of a total of six stage victories since the Dakar moved to South America and four of these have been on his home territory. Chaleco will also be spurred on by the hundreds of thousands of local fans who are expected to come out to cheer him and the riders as they head for the finish.
Ruben Faria, the factory support rider is at third overall, trailing the leader by 14.41 but lost some time finishing at fifteenth in Stage 13 and slipped from down second overall. Going into the penultimate stage KTM riders occupy the first five places in the overall standings.
Speaking after the timed special Despres underlined that the Dakar is about strategy and the sport of rally raid. “I felt good on the first section, where there was quite a bit of navigation. Then I saw that I’d got some time back on Chaleco and that he wasn’t going to disappear into the distance over 140 km. So I thought I had better be careful with the engine. Since I ate quite a bit of dust in the morning, I preferred to make sure and take it easy. For Ruben, we tried our best… but the navigation wasn’t that easy in the morning. There were two or three tricky bits of reading to select the right track.” Despres is a veteran rider who knows that in the Dakar nothing is decided until riders reach the finish line and he was quick to point out that there was still a total of 630 km to travel before Santiago. “It’s not going to be a walk in the park,” he said.
Unlucky on Friday was KTM factory rider Kurt Caselli, who stepped in at the last minute to ride for the injured Marc Coma and has delivered a great performance in his rookie Dakar, including two stage wins. On Friday Caselli was reported to have had some technical problems at the 396 km mark and at the time of writing was making his way back to the bivouac. KTM team manager Alex Doringer said the crew would make the necessary repairs on Caselli’s bike to make sure he is able to complete the final stage. He said up to a million people are expected to welcome the riders at the finish line in Santiago, the Chilean capital.
“We’re in good shape heading for Santiago with five KTM riders topping the overall standings and both our teams are very upbeat. Tonight we will be doing a thorough check of the bikes ahead of the last 128 km timed special.”
Speedbrain Husqvarna – Local hero Chilean Chaleco Lopez won today’s stage of the Dakar, and in doing so equals Joan “Bang Bang” Barreda in the number of stage victories. Portuguese rider Paulo Goncalves was the best of the Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain crossing the La Serena finish-line in third, just five seconds behind second place Despres who looks set to win his fifth Dakar tomorrow. The result takes Paulo up into tenth overall place.
Joan Barreda similarly put in a fine performance, setting off from third position. The rider took command of the main group, dominating the entire stage in first place as well as doing an excellent error-free navigation job for the whole 400 km of the special. He marked up the fifth best time in today’s section against the clock.
Matt Fish crossed the finish-line in seventeenth place. Alessandro Botturi had a second really unlucky day. Yesterday, a penalty and navigation errors caused him to lose an hour and half, today it was a technical problem and he was unable to finish the stage.
Paulo Goncalves: “Today was a great race for me. I wanted to really push it more today, as I really wanted a win in this Dakar, but towards the end it started getting really dangerous and there were rocks everywhere, so I decided to take it easier. I’m happy with the way the team and I have worked. Now there’s just the final stage to go, and I hope to keep my tenth overall place or maybe even improve on it. ”
Joan Barreda: “I had a ball navigating today. I was out there on my own practically the whole way once I’d got past Faria and Verhoeven a few kilometres into the race. I’m really happy.”
Alessandro Bottturi: “Two days to forget about. 130 km into the special test the motor packed up on me. I was really disappointed because it’s really important to make it to the end in a race like this one, even if it wouldn’t make a difference in the overall standings. Still, I’ve made a big step forward compared to last year’s edition, and I have been up there battling amongst the leaders. We’ll have to see what happens next year.”
HRC Honda – Team HRC Riders Helder Rodrigues rode with a consistent pace finishing 6th, 09’37” behind Chilean Chaleco Lopez, who won today’s stage ahead of Despres (+05’25”) and Goncalves with Javier Pizzolito 11th and Johnny Campbell, 33rd. Despres is leading the general classification while Rodrigues and Pizzolito sit in the top 10, in 7th and 8th place respectively.
Laia Sanz – Ya sólo queda una etapa!!! Con pensar eso me pongo a reír sola!! jejeje!! Será un alivio llegar a la meta pq llevo mucho cansancio acumulado y pocas horas dormidas, aunque primero hay que llegar a Santiago de Chile y tenemos otro enlace larguísimo!!! Bueno, esto se acaba… Qué Dakar más bestia para mí!!!
My own rough translation: Only one stage remains!! Just to think about it makes me laugh to myself. It will be such a relief to finish because of the accumulated fatigue and lack of sleep. But first we have to make it to Santiago and it will be another huge stage. Well, it is just that Dakar is more of a beast for me!