Bikers battle on washed-out Stage 11Comment on this story
Defending champion Cyril Despres extended his overall lead - moving a step closer to a fifth Dakar Rally win - after the 11th stage, 452km from La Rioja to Fiambala. The stage had been originally planned to include a 190km timed special, which was reduced to 30km because of torrential rain and flash floods.
American KTM rider Kurt Caselli took stage honours over the shortened route, 4minutes and 45 seconds ahead of Husqvarna rider Paulo Goncalves - and it says a lot about the conditions that it took them nearly three hours to ride 30km!
Despres, who waited till Monday to begin his charge, having started the week more than 20 minutes in arrears, finished third, 6min 24sec adrift of the winner.
The 38-year-old Frenchman now leads KTM team-mate Ruben Faria by 13min 16sec in the overall standing, with another KTM rider, Chilean veteran Francisco Chaleco Lopez, 18min 8sec in arrears.
However, Despres was far from being in a good mood at the end of his day's work.
"There was a storm in the dunes and it started raining. It wasn't easy to navigate," he said.
"We came across some streams full of mud and water, which brought back bad memories from last year.
"I don't know what today means in terms of results, but I'm just happy to be here without too many problems. Fiambala really is a shit-hole. We spent time in the water walking alongside the bike. The pace went up a lot after Kurt overtook me. Perhaps that's why I'm a bit tired!"
Riaan van Niekerk finished the stage 19th, moving up another place in the overall standings to 13th, but KTM team mate Darryl Curtis hit a ditch and had what he described as 'a monster crash', hurting his shoulder badly, his back and arm. He struggled home 74th, dropping three places in the overall standings to 21st.
Brett Cummings chalked up another good stage result, finishing 48th and moving up another place place to 55th on the overall standings.
"It was a tough day, both physically and with navigation," he said afterwards. "It was really dangerous in some places. I just took in easy to make sure I got through the stage in one piece." - AFP
RESULTS - STAGE 11
1 Kurt Caselli (United States) KTM - 2hr 55min 01sec
2 Paulo Goncalves (Portugal) Husqvarna +4min 45sec
3 Cyril Despres (France) KTM +6min24
4 Juan Pedrero Garcia (Spain) KTM +10min18
5 Francisco Chaleco Lopez (Chile) KTM +10min51
6 Joan Barreda Bort (Spain) Husqvarna +11min09
7 Alessandro Botturi (Italy) Husqvarna +11min31
8 Ivan Jakes (Slovakia) KTM +11min36
9 Alain Duclos (France) Sherco +12min21
10 Ruben Faria (Portugal) KTM +18min03
OVERALL STANDINGS AFTER STAGE 11
1 Cyril Despres (France) KTM - 33hr 48min 29sec
2 Ruben Faria (Portugal) +13min 16sec
3 Francisco Chaleco Lopez (Chile) KTM - 18min08
4 Ivan Jakes (Slovakia) KTM +23min33
5 Alessandro Botturi (Italy) Husqvarna +29min32
6 Juan Pedrero Garcia (Spain) KTM +44min12
7 Olivier Pain (France) Yamaha) +1hr 07min12
8 Frans Verhoeven (Netherlands) Yamaha +1hr 14min37
9 Helder Rodrigues (Portugal) Honda) +1hr 16min24
10 Javier Pizzolito (Argentina) Honda +1hr 23min13