The 2013 Dakar Rally has begun to wind down. With only a couple of stages left before now and the finish line on Sunday, some competitors will be viewing it as a last chance to make up some ground in the overall standings, with others no doubt just keen to see the end of the event. Among those who would have been nervous today would no doubt have been the leaders of the four categories, with today’s course making up of a 90km connecting stage and 441km timed special.
Bikes: Lopez claims another stage whilst Despres clings on to lead
After seeing his advantage narrowed after yesterday’s stage, Cyril Despres showed that he is still prepared to put up a fight to claim the victory in the bikes category by posting the second fastest time. He lost out on posting the fastest time of the day by five minutes and twenty five seconds to Francisco Lopez, who now becomes the French rival’s main rival after a difficult day for Ruben Faria.
But it was a strong start to the day for Joan Barreda Bort, who led after the first checkpoint, completing the opening 69km in 38 minutes and 12 seconds. Faria at this stage held second, fifteen seconds behind, with yesterday’s stage winner Frans Verhoeven in third. But Despres would soon change things at the very top and slip into third place.
Nevertheless, Barreda Bort maintained his advantage and was still ahead after the second checkpoint 123km in, holding a minute and 17 second advantage over Faria with Verhoeven moving back into third. It looked as if Despres was looking at the long game at this stage, just pacing himself, and as such, dropping back to sixth.
But the Frenchman would soon increase his pace once more and took command of things after 163km, ahead of American rider Kurt Caselli by a handful of seconds, with Lopez now moving up to third. Caselli would briefly lose a little pace and drop to a minute and 37 seconds behind Despres, before taking the advantage at the fourth checkpoint, with Despres and Lopez locked in battle.
At this stage, the riders entered a neutralised zone, with Caselli’s advantage being confirmed as nineteen seconds over Despres and forty two over Lopez. Further behind, Pedrero Garcia occupied fourth, a minute and 49 seconds off the pace, with Paulo Goncalves fifth.
They would then enter the second time section of the course, with Lopez immediately challenging Despres for second place.
But Despres would respond to Lopez’s pace, before Caselli would encounter engine problems that brought him to a stop 396km into the stage.
Lopez would be the one to benefit from this most, and only a few kilometres from the end, would take the lead, a crucial moment if he wishes to have any chance of catching Despres in the overall classification.
Nevertheless, Lopez posted the fastest time of three hours and 44 minutes, with Despres and Goncalves completing the top three. In the overall standings, things remain very close, with Lopez still being in striking distance of Despres.
“The bike race isn’t just about strategy. It’s also about rally-raid sport: we’ve just rode 440 km. I was feeling good on the first section, where there was quite a bit of navigation. Afterwards, 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,” Despres said after today.
“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! In his defence, the navigation wasn’t that easy in the morning. There were two or three tricky bits of reading to select the right track. As for celebrating, we still have 220 kilometres to the bivouac today and with 690 km tomorrow, it’s not going to be a walk in the park…”
Quads: Van Biljon claims his second stage of the rally
South African rider Sarel van Biljon today claimed his second stage win of the 2013 Dakar Rally, prevailing in an extremely close fight with Sebastian Husseini and Ignacio Casale. The trio were split by just 48 seconds after 441km of racing. Marcos Patronelli had another consistent run to post the fifth fastest time of the day, just under three minutes off the pace.
It was Casale who posted the fastest time and opened the first 69km of the stage to go fastest. He had an eighteen second advantage over yesterday’s stage winner Husseini, with Patronelli in third. But Lucas Bonetto and van Biljon would confirm their intentions to join the fight at the front, with the pair climbing into the top two positions as they completed the opening stretch of the course.
Van Biljon and Bonetto were split by just eight seconds at the second checkpoint, 153km in, with Casale a little further back – 49 seconds off the pace. Husseini held fourth for the moment, a minute and fifteen seconds off the pace of van Biljon.
Bonetto would then enjoy a time at the top as he took command at the third checkpoint, 163km into the stage, leading van Biljon by 45 seconds with Casale and Husseini maintaining positions.
But it was the latter who would end the first part of the timed course fastest as the riders entered the neutralised zone, taking a 49 second margin over Casale, with Bonetto and van Biljon dropping to third and fourth fastest respectively.
Casale would turn up the pressure on Husseini, with the pair being split by just thirteen seconds, 417km into the action, with van Biljon moving to within 18 seconds of the lead at this stage.
In the last few kilometres, the South African found even more pace, with his winning time of four hours and 42 minutes being enough to dislodge Husseini from the top by 41 seconds. Casale was a close third, seven seconds off the pace of Husseini, with Bonetto being a full minute and twenty two seconds behind.
Patronelli’s advantage in the overall standings remains static at one hour and fifty minutes over Casale, with third place still remaining very much in the balance between Rafal Sonik and Bonetto. The former has a slim advantage over his rival for the final few stages.
Cars: Gordon makes up for yesterday’s disappointment with stage win today
After yesterday’s stage, two men in particular could have been left feeling particularly disappointed. Robby Gordon looked likely to claim his second stage win in two days before being Nani Roma stole his thunder, whilst Guerlain Chicherit, who had opened the stage strongly, was hampered by transmission problems.
The pair contested the battle for the stage win today, with the American posting the fastest time of the day over the Frenchman by just twenty two seconds. It was a rare off day for Stéphane Peterhansel however, who ended the day ninth fastest, thirteen minutes and 51 seconds off the pace of Gordon.
It was Orlando Terranova who started the stage strongly though, as he posted the fastest time 69km into the stage, with Gordon holding second and Giniel de Villiers third. It wasn’t such a good start for yesterday’s stage winner Nani Roma however, who was three minutes and 57 seconds off the pace of Terranova at this early stage into proceedings.
Gordon would soon take the advantage back though, and had surged ahead at the second checkpoint, 153km into the stage, and held a one minute and 26 second advantage over Terranova with de Villiers still occupying third.
Things would continue to go well for Gordon 215km into the stage, having now built a solid lead of two minutes and 43 seconds over Terranova. Terranova would claw some of that time back before the end of the first timed section, but Gordon would still hold a one minute and 38 second advantage going into the neutralised zone, with Giniel de Villiers being just under five minutes off the pace.
The American would have a strong second half to the stage, with Guerlain Chicherit at this stage starting to show pace and jump up the time sheets.
For the second time in two days it looked like the Hummer man could be denied the fastest time, but it wasn’t to be, as Chicherit ended twenty two seconds off the pace by the end of the stage. Terranova posted the third fastest time of the day, four minutes and 41 seconds behind, with de Villiers taking fourth.
De Villiers therefore eats into Peterhansel’s lead in the overall standings slightly, but not enough to make a huge difference. Peterhansel still maintains a relatively comfortable 44 minute margin over the South African with only a couple of stages left to run.
“We had to get through this stage without any problems, so there was a lot of stress in the car, first when we were crossing the first dunes. Afterwards, we started listening to the engine and all the different little noises. We didn’t take any risks at all and we only lost a few minutes, but we managed to protect our lead this way. There were some impressive dunes, but rather than risking getting stuck on them, we preferred to go either right or left around them and then get back on track afterwards,” Peterhansel said after today’s action.
“Today was less stressful than yesterday, we managed our race more calmly. It will be simpler tomorrow because it is less long than today. I think we still have a lead of around 45 minutes, so we’re going to carry on taking it easy. But there’s no sign of relief yet. We know how it goes: something could still happen right up until you cross the finishing line. Even if it’s a small special, we still have to get it over and done with.”
Trucks: Karginov makes it two from two
Andrey Karginov made it two stage wins from two days with another strong performance today. He emerged victorious in a tight battle with former overall leader Gerard de Rooy to end the day fastest, beating the Dutch driver by just two minutes and 48 seconds.
It was de Rooy who took the early advantage however, with him posting the fastest time after the opening 69km, heading Karginov at this stage by just a single second. Ayrat Mardeev held third, but was a minute and 32 seconds of the pace.
But Karginov would surge ahead and would take the lead back from de Rooy at the second checkpoint. He held a 45 second advantage over de Rooy, with Miki Biasion now moving up to third, a minute and a half off Karginov’s pace.
It wasn’t going as well for Mardeev or Eduard Nikolaev however, with the pair briefly being delayed 190km into the stage.
But the battle at the front raged on, with de Rooy ending the first time section of the course fastest, taking an eighteen second margin over Karginov as they entered the neutralised zone
However, Karginov would then have a better second half to the stage, taking the lead back once more and building an advantage of two minutes and twenty seconds as the competitors passed the 417km marker. He would extend that lead just slightly over the final few kilometres, with his time of four hours and six minutes being enough to end the day fastest for a second day in succession.
In the overall standings, Nikolaev maintains in control despite his small set back today. He holds a 36 minute margin over Karginov, with Mardeev still maintaining third. Gerard de Rooy could be capable of taking that position from him before the end however, with the pair split by less than five minutes.
2013 Dakar Rally stage 13 results
|5||Joan Barreda Bort||Husqvarna||03:53:18||00:08:24|
|1||Sarel van Biljon||E-ATV||04:42:45|
|4||Giniel de Villiers||Toyota||03:49:01||00:08:08|
|2||Gerard de Rooy||Iveco||04:09:18||00:02:48|
2013 Dakar Rally overall standings after 13 stages
|2||Giniel de Villiers||Toyota||37:29:24||00:44:38|
|4||Gerard de Rooy||Iveco||38:18:15||00:45:08|