Defending champion Cyril Despres took the overall lead in the 2012 Dakar Rally on Tuesday after the 10th stage, a 636km ride from Cordoba to La Rioja including a 357km timed section.
The 38-year-old KTM rider had made his charge on Monday when, having been more than 24 minutes off the pace, he stormed to his first stage victory in this year's race and on Tuesday he showed he was the form man, finishing second in the stage, just 75 seconds behind Husqvarna rider Joan Barreda Bort.
“Picking up seconds in the general standings is not the most important thing.”
Despres, chasing his fifth Dakar title, took over the overall lead from team mate Ruben Faria, to go 1min 37sec ahead in the standings. He said after the stage he was in good form and that his strategy of not racing all out throughout the Rally was paying off as it entered its decisive stages.
"What matters is making statements, making a difference, gaining in confidence and letting the racing do the talking,” he said.
“As a result, the general standings reflect that on paper this evening."
SOUTH AFRICAN CONTINGENT
KTM rider Riaan van Niekerk put in another stalwart ride to finish 20th, 20min 12sec behind the leader, and maintain his 14th position in the overall standings, while team mate Darryl Curtis seemed to be getting his groove back with a solid 24th, five minutes behind Van Niekerk, but dropped one place in the overall standings to 18th.
Brett Cummings continued to improve, coming in 29th, half an hour off the pace, and making up another four positions in the standings to 56th overall.