Iquique – Arica
Stage Ten initially saw the competitors head back down south from the Iquique bivouac, before looping around and heading north again towards Arica, just before the Peruvian border.
Bikes – Barreda Beats The KTM Duo
Joan Barreda Bort produced his most impressive performance yet on the 2012 Dakar Rally by bagging his first ever fastest time. After being forced out on his debut in 2011 by injury on just the second stage, this was only the Spanish Husqvarna rider's 12th ever stage on the Dakar. He finished up a minute and a half clear of compatriot Marc Coma. Cyril Despres finished another two minutes behind, but he clung onto his overall lead by just 21 seconds.
“After the rear wheel problems I had on the third day, I’ve been taking it day by day,” said Barreda after the stage. “On the last stages it has been better and yesterday, for example, I saw that I could go on the attack, so I went for it.
“On today’s stage, I had a problem with my foot. On a very quick bend, where I was at 120 kmph, I hit a stone with my foot and I thought that the impact had torn my leg off. When I arrived at the refuelling zone, I took some painkillers and it was ok until the end of the stage. I even sped up. We’ll see what’s happened to me. I thought I might have fractured my shin, but I don’t think I have. I don’t know how serious the injury is, but I think I should be ok and be able to finish in Lima.”
Coma said: “It’s the tone that’s been set for the rally and I think we’ll keep on battling until the end. We keep trying to make the difference all the time and the entry into Peru will be decisive. The race will hinge on the smallest of margins. When the performance level is equivalent with the same team and the same bike, it’s very difficult, both for him and for me. But when it comes to the crunch, it will be entirely to do with one rider or the other.”
Despres explained how a navigation error lost him time: “It was all going well for me until the 225-km point and I’d managed to keep up a good pace. But I made a small navigation mistake and that’s when Marc overtook me. He was with Joan Barreda, who I’d like to congratulate on riding a superb stage. At this level, every second counts! It’s a scenario that I thought might happen, so I’m not surprised. I’m just happy to have got through another day. In any case, staying out in front for the whole 377 km whilst riding flat out isn’t easy. If I finish in his dust or him in mine, it doesn’t change that much.”
Quads – Maffei Prevents A Patronelli Stage Win
Alejandro Patronelli continues to cruise towards the defence of his title, but he was only third quickest on the stage. He came in exactly 30 seconds behind his brother Marcos. Beating them both however was fellow Argentine Tomas Maffei, 13 minutes up the road.
“It was a very varied, quick stage and I was quite nervous about it,” said Maffei. “After the long stage at Antofagasta this one was shorter and it was better. The navigation was complicated. I lost a way point and had to look for it. But, all in all, it was a superb stage, with a magnificent passage through the mountains. There was a lot of earth and the wind wasn’t blowing it away, meaning it stayed on the tracks, especially in the last 20 to 30 kilometres of the rally. Now I have to look after the quad and avoid losing contact with the leaders in the general standings. We’re going to be entering Peru and there will be the marathon stage. It’s sure that being on my own makes it more difficult, but either of them could have a problem.”
Cars – Roma Wins The Stage As Robby Hits Trouble
The leading duo of Stephane Peterhansel and Robby Gordon took turns to head the stage during the day, but towards the end of the stage the American Hummer driver damaged the front left of his car. As a result he lost the best part of a quarter of an hour. This dropped him from second to third overall, behind stage winner Nani Roma. The Spaniard edged his Mini teammate Peterhansel by 21 seconds, to leave him 19 minutes behind overall. Meanwhile, Krzysztof Holowczyc came in over five and a half hours late due to a power steering failure on his X-Raid machine.
To make matters worse for Gordon, he is now racing under appeal after being disqualified for a technical infringement.
“I hit a rock with both right-side tyres and as you can see this wheel is way out, so we’ve got some broken parts,” explained Gordon. “Do I think I can win again? Of course. I was passing him [Peterhansel], he didn’t move over and I clobbered a rock and got two flat tyres at the same time. So, we’ve got our work cut out for us. We’ve got a damaged race car that we’re going to have work on and there’s a lot of damage from what I can see. Now we’ll push, push, push even harder.”
Peterhansel said: “Today it was a big fight with Gordon. At the beginning he was a little bit slower than us. We overtook him when he made a navigation mistake, but at the end he overtook me again. He was really fast on a very short corner to the left, very tight, and he went straight on and jumped off a small cliff. I was sure that he rolled, but when I saw again through the dust he was on his wheels. I think something happened with his car, I don’t know exactly why or what – maybe the tyre? I don’t know.”
Roma added: “The stage was good. Winning again is good motivation. For me, it’s just another win, but it’s really motivating for the guys who are working on the car. It’s good for Mini and it’s good for X-Raid. In any case, I’m very happy, but my aim is not to win stages. I’m looking at the bigger picture and I want to finish in Lima in the best position possible. For the moment, there are no instructions. It’s important to do things correctly like we have done up to today. Stephane is 18 minutes ahead of me, which is a bit far, but you have to believe and drive like we have been doing since the start.”
Trucks: First Stage Win For Ardavichus
Kazakhstan's Artur Ardavichus scored his first ever Dakar stage win – but it was also the first win of the 2012 event for the previously-dominant Kamaz. He benefited from a navigation error by comfortable rally leader Gerard de Rooy, who led Iveco teammate Hans Stacey with him.
“Really today was such a difficult day,” said Ardavichus. “There was good navigation and very nice dunes, really big and difficult dunes – we like this. For us this was a normal stage. Everything was good today: good speed, good terrain. Everything was ok, the truck is good and this is much better. De Rooy is very fast. I don’t know why today he went a bit slower. Maybe there is a problem with his truck, but normally De Rooy is much too fast, faster than me. One kilometre before the finish, De Rooy overtook me. It was a good day.”