Santa Rosa de la Pampa – San Rafael
Cars 290km; Bikes, Quads, Trucks 295km
After New Year's Day's short opener the Dakar got down to business with a stage that began the 2012 race's route to the Pacific coast of Chile. The route began with fast turns before ending in dunes comprised of volcanic grey sand. After the opening stage presented very little room for the gaps to develop in the general standings, stage two shuffled the order in all four classes.
Bikes: Coma And Despres – Battle Rejoined
After a disappointing showing on the opening stage triple class champion Cyril Despres got his quest for a fourth title back on course on stage two. Running thirteenth through the stage Despres lead at the first of the four intermediate checkpoints.
Through the first 140km the Frenchman was 26 seconds faster than long time rival and fellow KTM rider Marc Coma, with stage one winner Francisco Lopez third fastest at the first split time. However, as the stage continued, the terrain becoming increasingly rocky before ending in sand dunes, Coma first gained on Despres before moving into the stage lead at the third timing point, just shy of the 200km mark.
Through the final 40km Coma pulled out another minute over Despres. Joan Berreda Bort was third fastest through the stage aboard his Husqvarna, with Lopez in fourth, falling to second in the overall standings behind Coma, but still ahead of Despres. Polish KTM rider Jakub Pryzgonski repeated his day one performance to take fifth on stage, and move up to fourth overall, one place ahead of Berreda Bort who has already accrued a five minute time penalty.
“It’s an incredible experience to be riding amongst the leaders and following guys like Coma, Chaleco or Jakub, because you have to ride fast and you learn a lot,” said Berreda Bort, who crashed out on the second stage of his Dakar debut last year. “I’m overjoyed. At the end, I eased off a bit, because my aim is to finish the Dakar and I didn’t want to have a crash on just the 2nd day, but I’m really happy with how I rode today.”
Both men moved up the rankings at the expense of Javier Pizzolito and American Quinn Cody, who lost 20 minutes to a mechanical problem on 50km from the end of the stage after keeping pace with the top three through the stage.
Jonah Street, the other high profile American in the bike field was forced out of the race after mechanical issues on the stage.
Quads: La Fuente Again
The day for the quads began with two of the riders excluded after scrutineering – Christophe Declerck and Antoine Leconte – being reinstated.
Sadly for Lukasz Laskawiec he looks unlikely to join them, but the Pole still ran through the day's stage fastest of all the quads, over a minute faster than Sergio la Fuente who was credited with another stage win. La Fuente was over four minutes faster than defending champion Alejandro Patronelli, who now lies second in the overall standings 6:34 in arrears to the Uruguayan.
Tomas Maffei, Marcos Patronelli and Lucas Bonetto – the youngest man in the rally at just 20 years old – completed the top five.
Declerck claimed the sixth fastest stage time and lies in the same position in the overall standings.
Cars: The Champ Bounces Back
After a mechanical problem had lost him nine minutes on the first stage and left him to be towed in by teammate Robby Gordon 2011 winner Nasser Al-Attiyah was seemingly talking down his chances of a second Dakar success.
However, a stellar drive on the second stage put the Qatari back in contention, as he moved into sixth overall by virtue of his stage win, his deficit cut to eight minutes
Starting the stage 38th among the car class runners Al-Attiyah was always catching those ahead of him, both on the stage and in the standings. He had the 12th fastest time to the half way stage before breaking into the top five fastest with 60km remaining.
“We started in 38th position and we passed a lot of cars,” stated Al-Attiyah. “We broke the window and it was very, difficult because we took a lot of time to pass many cars. But I said we just had to keep a good strategy and had to show that we are still here. I don’t know how much time we took, but I hope we have a good time tomorrow. We must be more clever.”
At the end of the stage his lead over Stephane Peterhansel was nearly a minute, with Robby Gordon's Hummer in third.
Before Al-Attiyah roared to the win Gordon was the man on form, leading the pack – headed by the MINIs of Peterhansel, Krzysztof Holowczyc and Nani Roma. However, a puncture lost him time in the second half of the stage, falling behind Al-Attiyah.
Third fastest today was still enough to move Gordon into second overall, ahead of Holowczyc, who lost time in the final kilometres of the stage, blaming a suspension too stiff over the uneven terrain, after being in-line to assume the rally lead from a delayed Leonid Novitskiy for much of the day.
Another man to fall foul of the stage – at the time of writing – is SMG Buggy driver Mattias Kahle, who finished tenth overall last year, but is yet to complete the second stage
Trucks: De Rooy Takes The Lead
Stage two meant all change in the Truck standings.
Stage one winner Marcel van Vliet lost ten minutes on the stage, finishing ninth while MAN team leader Franz Echter dropped 20 minutes to stage winner Gerard de Rooy.
Echter had led the stage times in the early running before problems struck and de Rooy assumed the lead. The pair of works Kamaz drivers Eduard Nikolaev and Ayrat Mardeev made their first real impression on the overall standings, finishing second and fourth best on stage to signal Kamaz's intent to defend their title.
The Russian pair were split by Hans Stacey's Iveco on the stage, and in the overall standings. Fifth on the stage was taken by the Tatra crew led by driver Ales Loprais, to move into sixth overall, just 18 seconds off Kamaz privateer Artur Ardavichus.
2012 Dakar Rally stage two results
|3||23||Joan Berreda Bort||Husqvarna||03:09:54||+0:02:33|
|1||253||Sergio La Fuente||Yamaha||03:49:56|
|1||502||Gerard de Rooy||Iveco||03:10:00|
Overall Standings After Stage Two
|5||23||Joan Berreda Bort||Husqvarna||03:48:28||+0:08:16|
|1||263||Sergio La Fuente||Yamaha||04:30:09|
|4||301||Giniel de Villiers||Toyota||03:24:22||+0:03:49|
|1||502||Gerard de Rooy||Iveco||03:48:11|