After a shortened stage before Sunday’s rest day due to adverse conditions, and a day of rest yesterday, the Dakar Rally returned today with what was its longest day. Competitors in all four categories tackled the 175km connecting stage, before moving on to the main action of a timed 593km special stage. Not surprisingly, some competitors fared much better than others on this gruelling day.
Bikes: Despres triumphs whilst Faria takes overall lead
Cyril Despres made the best use of his considerable experience to end the day fastest in the bike category today. He finished ahead of recent form man Joan Barreda Bort by just over four minutes. It was another disastrous day for former leader Olivier Pain however, who posted the 26th fastest time, but things were even worse for David Casteu who posted the slowest time of the day – a full two hours off the pace of Despres.
Barreda Bort took the early advantage, surging ahead 38km into proceedings, with Johnny Campbell and Ivan Jakes rounding out the top three at this time. However, Despres would have surged ahead by the first checkpoint, already having claimed a minute and thirteen seconds back on Casteu.
Despres maintained his advantage 121km into proceedings, already opening a big advantage. Barreda Bort continued to hold second, fifty seconds behind him, with Casteu rounding out the top three. Things started to take a turn for a worse for Casteu shortly after this, as he lost a minute with a slight delay. It is believed he was checking something on his bike.
He would stop again not long later, 210km into the stage. Reports suggested that he was suffering from a fuel supply problem, and was stopped 16km from the refuelling point. Pain too had already suffered a delay at this point and was similarly struggling.
Casteu would lose ten minutes before a fellow rider, Vincent Guindani, stopped to help the Frenchman and get him on his way once more.
After 225km, Despres still lead from Barreda Bort, with Campbell third. But Casteu’s problems turned out to be more than just fuel related; he actually hit a cow! The Yamaha rider hurt his shoulder in the collision, but was aided by a medical team.
Francisco Lopez was another one to lose time in the early part of this stage, conceding ten minutes and forty seconds to Despres, whilst provisional third place rider, Johnny Campbell also suffered a delay of five minutes.
Olivier Pain would experience more problems 370km into the stage, suffering a minor tumble into a ditch. He emerged unscathed, but had to be helped by Michael Metge and Guindani.
Despres never looked in trouble throughout today, and therefore posted the fastest time of five hours, 41 minutes and 36 seconds. Barreda Bort managed to maintain second, whilst Botturi capitalised on Campbell’s earlier dramas to post the third fastest time.
“It was a good day with lots of attacking and lots of turns. It would have been impossible for me to do well without my trainer, who makes me work on a bicycle year-round, or without my Michelin tyres. Thanks to them for making my muscles strong and my tyres sturdy. When I get back to the bivouac, I’ll be able to check this stage on my list,” Despres said.
“I knew that it would be physically demanding, that I’d have to give it my all. I’ve got blisters on my feet and my hands are sore, but I had to bang my fist on the table to say: “Hey, I’m here!” Ruben and I are racing well for the team, he’s in good shape and that’s the most important thing right now.”
The result means a sizable change in the bike category. Despres was the winner today, but Ruben Faria now takes the overall lead, holding a five minute and 23 second advantage over Despres. It is important to note however, that Despres has a time penalty, and could be at risk of losing second place to Lopez tomorrow.
After his terrible day, Casteu drop to 21st in the standings, an hour and fifty minutes off the pace.
Quads: Laskawiec emerges victorious
Polish rider, Lukasz Laskawiec, was the surprise winner of today’s stage, who claimed a slender victory over long-time overall leader Marcos Patronelli by just one minute and five seconds.
It was Ignacio Casale who took the early advantage 38km into the stage however, leading Laskawiec by 39 seconds, with Lucas Bonetto rounding out the top three. However, Laskawiec would emerge ahead at 121km into proceedings, whilst Bonetto maintained second, ten seconds down. Saturday’s stage winner, Sarel Van Biljon at this point posted the third fastest time.
The South African would then take the advantage to post the fastest time to complete the first section of the course, with Bonetto still second and Laskawiec dropping to third, 31 seconds off the pace. Patronelli held fourth at this stage.
It would be Laskawiec and Bonetto who would continue to dispute the lead by the next checkpoint though, with a mere thirteen seconds splitting them, whilst Patronelli moved up into striking distance, a minute and 35 behind.
Laskawiec would maintain his advantage for the rest of the stage however, with Patronelli indeed moving up to second as Bonetto faded in the last few kilometres. Sebastian Husseini therefore completed the top three, four minutes and 53 seconds behind, with Bonetto eventually being classified with the seventh fastest time of the day.
Today’s action changes very little at the top of the overall classification, with Patronelli still having a more than comfortable margin of one hour and 32 minutes over Casale, whilst Rafal Sonik moved back to third day, demoting Sebastian Palma to fourth.
Today’s stage winner is fifth in the overall classification, albeit with a time penalty, and is three hours and five seconds off the pace of Patronelli.
Cars: Roma claims second stage victory
Nani Roma claimed his second stage victory in just a few days in a dramatic day in the cars category. But it was Stéphane Peterhansel who emerged as the real victor with a strong second place. The Frenchman now has a health lead of 49 minutes in the overall standings over his nearest rival.
However, it was Giniel de Villiers who came close to winning his first stage of the event so far. The Toyota man started strongly and was leading 38km into the stage, with Roma second and Peterhansel third, the three split by just twenty seconds.
The South African maintained that advantage at the 121km marker, extending his lead to a minute and fourteen seconds over Roma, with Peterhansel only a few seconds back. The stage was already claiming victims however, with Bruce Garland and Ramón Ferreyros being among the first. The former was suffering from technical problems, whilst the latter was desperately trying to repair his vehicle which had been badly damaged in an accident.
Bauyrzhan Issabayev and Pierre Lachaume were another two suffering from mechanical problems, with the lengthy stage beginning to take its toll.
They had nothing on the problems being experienced by Erik Wevers however, as his car caught fire 423km into the stage. Both Wevers and his navigator, Fabian Lurquin, were unhurt, but their Ford HRX was written off in the blaze.
Leader Giniel De Villiers was the next to hit problems, with his pace nose-diving just before where Wevers had experienced problems. Roma therefore seized the lead, taking a nine second advantage through the next checkpoint.
There were to be two more high profile casualties, with Nasser Al-Attiyah suffering another terrible day. He stopped several times during the stage and, at the time of writing, has not yet finished. This therefore ends any hopes of him winning the Dakar for this year. He has been stopped for more than an hour with some kind of problem. Saturday’s stage winner Guerlain Chicherit has also endured a terrible day, and was more than an hour off the pace of Roma.
Roma’s winning time was five hours and 36 seconds, with Orlando Terranova completing another strong run to post the third fastest time, six minutes and 54 seconds off the pace.
Trucks: A terrible day for de Rooy
It wasn’t just high profile competitors in the bikes and cars category to suffer terrible days, with Gerard de Rooy limping home one hour and twenty five minutes off the pace today as his truck was hit by turbo problems.
After their stage was cancelled a couple of days ago owing to bad weather, the trucks rumbled back into action again today, and things had barely even begun before things went wrong for de Rooy. Just 10km into the stage, he came to a standstill and would lose a chunk of time.
Peter Verluis therefore claimed the fastest time 73km into the stage. He was 47 seconds faster than second placed man Aleš Loprais with Andrey Karginov completing the top three.
De Rooy was now back underway, but it was clear he still had major issues and today would be a case of damage limitation for the Dutchman.
“Our turbo blew up and, because we didn’t have the piece we needed to repair it, we had to wait for the assistance truck. We lost at least 45 min and then we went on the attack again, but we had a steering problem and had to stop once more. Then we had a puncture which sent us off-course, but fortunately Jan Lammers was there to tow us back on… In short, a hellish day!” he later said.
“We lost at least 1 h 30, we’ll see… I don’t know how the rest of the race is going to pan out, of course, we’ll continue to attack, but it’s going to be very difficult from now on…”
There were no such problems for Marcel van Vliet, who would post the second fastest time at the 73km to move up into a provisional second place. However, he would have lost time by the next checkpoint, 179km in, with Versluis still maintaining an advantage over Loprais and Karginov.
Versluis would only extend that advantage as the stage wore on, with little change in the classification behind him. However, the stage would not be his, as with a late burst of speed, Loprais was able to post the fastest time by a mere seven seconds from a disappointed Versluis, with Karginov completing the top three, a minute and 36 seconds off the pace by the end.
In the overall classification, it changes greatly. After his sixth fastest time today, Eduard Nikolaev now moves into the lead, with Martin Kolomy holding second, seventeen minutes off the pace. Ayrat Mardeev maintains third, more than half an hour off the pace, whilst de Rooy, after his terrible day, drops to fourth and is almost a full hour off the pace of Nikolaev.
“It was a very interesting special, with a winding course not unlike those you can find in WRC. It was quite hard on the brakes. We had to tackle very fast parts and very slow ones. When all’s said and done, we had a good special. We went at our pace, even though we’d seen De Rooy stopped next to the course,” the new leader said.
2013 Dakar Rally stage nine results
|2||Joan Barreda Bort||Husqvarna||05:45:39||00:04:03|
|5||Giniel de Villiers||Toyota||05:46:07||00:09:39|
|5||Marcel van Vliet||MAN||03:21:10||00:02:38|
2013 Dakar Rally overall standings after stage nine
|2||Giniel de Villiers||Toyota||25:01:14||00:49:31|
|4||Gerard de Rooy||Iveco||24:10:16||00:59:56|