Chilecito – San Juan
Following the long trek over the Andes on Stage Ten, a 370km special lay in wait for the competitors on Stage Eleven, as the 2011 Dakar Rally begins to reach its conclusion. The route had been adjusted and the special split into two, with the addition of a neutralised section, with sections of the road having been washed away by heavy rain. Rather than the planned 662km marathon, the riders and drivers would now only be timed over 370km, although the challenge still remained a tough one.
Sadly, the rally was hit by tragedy with a fatal accident involving one of the crews. The no.410 Toyota of Argentineans Amor Eduardo Osvaldo and Fenoglio Alejandro was involved in a road accident with a non-competing driver. The driver was taken to hospital but was later confirmed to have died.
Bikes: Despres Takes The Stage Win, But Coma Still In Control
Cyril Despres made up for his troubles yesterday by winning his third stage of the rally, 2m11 ahead of Marc Coma. However, the Spaniard still holds a commanding 15m59 lead over Despres in the general standings.
“To succeed, you have to try first, and I’m trying,” said Despres. “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. 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.”
“Today was a great day,” said Coma. “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.”
Francisco Lopez Contardo finished third on the stage, which is where he remains, comfortably, in the general standings. Amongst those to impress was American 'rookie' Quinn Alexis Coady, who finished sixth and likened today's special to the Baja stages with which he is far more familiar.
“I felt really good on this special,” he said. “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.”
Quads: Halpern tops Argentine 1-2-3, Patronelli crusing
It was a lockout of the top three positions on the special from Argentine riders with the rally now back in their territory. Sebastian Halpern took the stage victory, ahead of compatriots Thomas Maffei and Alejandro Patronelli. Patronelli is now easing himself to the category victory overall, with a 1h06m32 lead in the general standings.
However, it isn't all comfortable for the runaway leader. “Thank God they shortened this stage by a hundred kilometres, otherwise it would’ve been very tough,” he said. “I hurt my hand and I’m having difficulty flexing my wrist. I struggled over the finishing line and I thank God that I was able to finish. I’m taking it easy, riding almost gently. I’m trying to finish and avoid any errors.”
Cars: Crisis for Sainz, Al-Attiyah closer to victory
Having got stuck in the dunes yesterday, Carlos Sainz truly said goodbye to his hopes of retaining the Dakar crown today. Pushing to make up lost time, the Spaniard was quickest when they reached the neutralised section. However, he hit a hole at the 410km point on the stage, ripping off his front right wheel. Teammate Mark Miller stopped to lend a hand in repairing the car, but over an hour was lost by the time he got going again.
Nasser Al-Attiyah was also pushing, under threat from Sainz, but kept out of trouble to win the stage by 1m13 from Stephane Peterhansel.
“Today we had a good start,” explained Al-Attiyah. “We just stayed behind “Peter”. Everything was okay, the car worked very well and there were no problems. There was a lot of dust on the stage, but the good thing is that we finished and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a different day as well. I don’t know what happened to Carlos. I hope he can fix his wheel. Today I think Carlos was pushing a lot.”
Al-Attiyah now leads in the general standings by 51m49 over Giniel de Villiers, who finished the stage in third. Sainz remains in third for now, ahead of Peterhansel.
Trucks: Another Victory For Chagin
Vladimir Chagin took his 62 career stage win in his Kamaz, beating Spain's Pep Vila by 10m53. Chagin's nearest challenger in the general standings, teammate and compatriot Firdaus Kabirov was third on the stage, 13m23 behind Chagin. Chagin now has an overall lead of 30m31 over Kabirov, with the third Kamaz of Eduard Nikolaev over two hours further back.
2011 Dakar Rally Stage Eleven Results
1 Cyril Despres (KTM) in 4:33m13
2 Marc Coma (KTM) +0:02m11
3 Francisco Lopez Contardo (Aprilia) +0:06m19
4 Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha) +0:07m44
5 Alain Duclos (Aprilia) +0:10m03
1 Sebastian Halpern (Yamaha) in 5:35m30
2 Tomas Maffei (Yamaha) +0:01m52
3 Alejandro Patronelli (Yamaha) +0:04m36
4 Lukasz Laskawiec (Yamaha) +0:09m28
5 Christophe Declerck (Polaris) +0:036m45
1 Nasser Al-Attiyah (VW) in 4:17m27
2 Stephane Peterhansel (BMW) +0:01m13
3 Giniel de Villiers (VW) +0:04m52
4 Krzysztof Holoczyz (BMW) +0:013m17
5 Ricardo Leal dos Santos (BMW) +0:27m13
1 Vladimir Chagin (Kamaz) in 5:12m02
2 Pep Vila (Iveco) +0:11m04
3 Firdaus Kabirov (Kamaz) +0:13m04
4 Eduard Nikolaev (Kamaz) +0:14m37
5 Hugo Duisters (Iveco) +0:17m30
Overall Standings After Stage Ten
1 Marc Coma (KTM) in 43:14m55
2 Cyril Despres (KTM) +0:15m59
3 Francisco Lopez Contardo (Aprilia) +0:49m24
4 Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha) +1:35m10
5 Juan Pedrero Garcia (KTM) +2:42m55
1 Alejandro Patronelli (Yamaha) in 53:28m59
2 Sebastian Halpern (Yamaha) +1:06m32
3 Christophe Declerck (Polaris) +6:30m00
4 Lukasz Laskawiec (Yamaha) +6:30m47
5 Pablo Copetti (Yamaha) +6:34m57
1 Nasser Al-Attiyah (VW) in 38:16m01
2 Giniel de Villiers (VW) +0:51m49
3 Carlos Sainz (VW) +1:27m27
4 Stephane Peterhansel (BMW) +1:40m45
5 Krzystof Holowczyc (BMW) +4:02m54
1 Vladimir Chagin (Kamaz) in 44:08m40
2 Firdaus Kabirov (Kamaz) +0:30m31
3 Eduard Nikolaev (Kamaz) +2:58m43
4 Ilgizar Mardeev (Kamaz) +5:34m06
5 Franz Echter (MAN) +5:38m07