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2012 Dakar Rally: Stage Eleven Report

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2012 Dakar Rally

2012 Dakar Rally

Arica – Arequipa

Bike/Quad: 534 km
Car: 478 km
Truck: 432 km

The Dakar moved into Peru for the first ever time before Stage 11. Those on bikes and quads had a longer stage and journey, to their own bivouac for the night, west of Arequipa.

Bikes: Despres Ekes Out A Lead

Cyril Despres had seen his lead over great rival and KTM teammate Marc Coma shrink the previous day, but today he fought back to gain two minutes on the Spaniard and bring his overall lead up to 2m22s. Coma was only third quickest through the stage – P2 being reserved by his fellow Catalan Gerard Farres Guell. Farres Guell will no doubt move over for Coma during the next stage, helping Coma to gain time on Despres.  Despres' helper in the KTM ranks – fellow Frenchman Johnny Aubert – was fourth fastest – and hence is ready to capitalise.

“After a modification to the road-book, one of the tracks wasn’t very visible,” explained Despres. “I rode 100 metres to far, but I saw that Marc was turning round, even though he started two minutes before me. The day already started with a bath in a stream, pushing alongside the bike. It was a tough day, all in all! An important development might be if someone moves in between Marc and me. In any case, apart from attacking and riding, there wasn’t much to do today. Mind you, if Farres has actually finished 2nd, it’s not good for me. Tomorrow will be complicated, but anything can happen on the Dakar.”

Coma said: “We had a mixture of several types of terrain: earthy, sandy and stony. It was predictable that Cyril would gain time on me today. I’m going to try my utmost right until the end. There are three days left to give it everything. It’s difficult to define a strategy when Cyril is riding flat out in front! I’ll just have to follow him. It won’t be flat out, but the pace will again be quick, like it has been since the beginning of the race.”

Quads: Patronellis Strike Back In The Stage Win Battle

Alejandro and Marcos Patronelli had lost out to fellow Argentine Tomas Maffei on the previous stage, but today they struck back. Domiant rally leader Alejandro took the stage, half a minute ahead of Marcos. Maffei meanwhile was 19 minutes further back.

Once again the brothers rode together:

“It was a great special and we’ve managed to get to Peru,” said Alejandro. “I’m happy because Marcos and I are together. There was a lot of navigation, but we took it easy. We were very lucky and fortunately my brother was there with me. My quad got stuck in the mud and one of the wheels just wouldn’t shift, it was stuck in the tyre tracks. Marcos was a few seconds behind me and if he hadn’t been, I’d probably still be there. Our solidarity is very moving. After the link route, there was a section where we came across a 200 metre descent with a 45% gradient. The quad started skidding into the stones. It was scary, but really majestic. I think we can accomplish something good. We’ll try and continue like that. I salute Peru and long live Argentina!”

Cars: Victory Chances Over For Robby

Having lost around 15 minutes to rally leader Stephane Peterhansel on stage ten, things got much, much worse for Robby Gordon. A mechanical failure sustained during the first part of the stage ended up in him losing over an hour trying to fix it, and he would find more trouble later on that resulted in him coming home 1h50m behind – although it only dropped him from third to fourth on the overall leaderboard.

Peterhansel won the stage to put a further 3m44s between him and nearest rival and Mini teammate Nani Roma. Giniel de Villiers is now set for a podium finish after Gordon's troubles.

“We lost a CV joint boot and when we finished the first special we tried to change it,” said Gordon. “It took us too long to change and we missed the transfer section. At the end it was very bad and the silt is all inside the clutch, so we’ve lost the clutch and a wheel fell off… We’ve just had a bad day – we had a horrible day.

“The only way we’ll win is if the other guys have problems, but I’m pretty sure De Villiers got past us too. But, you know, that’s the Dakar. You fight, fight, fight and hopefully it doesn’t get you, but today it just got us, for no reason. A 1 dollar part, a hose clamp broke. That put is in a position to miss everything else, so it was a bad day for us, but we’ll just keep fighting until the end. We won’t give up. You never know what will happen, so we’ll ride to Lima.”

Peterhansel said: “We didn’t drive at a really fast pace, but we didn’t have any technical or navigation problems, so it was a good special, but not very pleasant to drive because of the fesh-fesh. There wasn’t much visibility, even opening the road, because the wind blew the dust up making it difficult to see. I overtook Nani several kilometres from the finishing line: he got stuck on a little dune trying to avoid a biker, but he didn’t even need to get out of the car to get going again.

“As for Gordon, whatever happens now, he will just be carrying on to Lima for the enjoyment. There’s around twenty minutes between Nani and me now, with two big stages of dunes to come. There’ll be a lot of dune cresting and we know that if we get stuck in a hollow between them we could lose a lot of time. We’ll have to play it safe. It’s always been like that. Each time I’ve won the car race, I always had a team-mate hot on my heels: Masuoka, Alphand… There’s always been this sort of pressure to handle.”

Roma, 22m49s behind overall, added: “I had two bikers ahead of me and a small dune and one of them fell in front of me, so I was stuck for two minutes, but it’s not too bad. I didn’t lose too much time, perhaps two minutes. Everything is ok, we’re happy to be here now and with Stephane, we drove a very good race.

“I don’t know if I have a chance because Stephane is quite far ahead. But I’m happy for all the team. There are twenty minutes between us and you can lose that much when you get really stuck in the sand. It can happen to anybody, but when I say that I’m not thinking about Stephane. With the experience that he has, he’s someone who doesn’t make many mistakes. In fact, I’m not counting on what the others do. I prefer to try and do my best by myself to finish in a good position in Lima.”

Trucks: A Second Stage Win On The Bounce For Kamaz

Kamaz finally sealed their first stage win on an Iveco-dominated rally on stage ten – and they repeated it again today. This time in the hands of Russia's Andrey Karginov. Gerard De Rooy was only fourth fastest, but continues to lead comfortably.

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About author
Peter joined the TCF team in September 2010 and covers GP2 and GP3 along with WTCC and Formula Two. You can find him on twitter at @PeteAllen_
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