Factory KTM rider Cyril Despres moved a step closer to his fourth Dakar victory after winning stage 11 of the race and extending his lead over rival and team-mate Marc Coma.
The 37 year old Frenchman secured the 534km stage win by 1m 39s from Spanish KTM rider Gerard Farres Guell as the event moved across the border of Chile in to Peru for the first time and now leads closest rival, Coma overall by 2m 22s with four stages of the race remaining.
Despres said: ”In the beginning there had been a modification to the road book and the tracks weren’t very visible. I rode 100 meters too far but then I saw Marc was turning round, even though he started two minutes in front of me. The day was a tough one and started with pushing the bike through a stream. It could be an important development to have someone between Marc and me. With Farres at second it's not good for me. Tomorrow will be complicated, but anything can happen on the Dakar.”
Coma said: “Today we had a mixture of several types of terrain. It was fast hard packed earth, sandy and stony. It was predictable that Cyril would gain time on me today but 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.”
Factory Yamaha ride Helder Rodrigues retains third in the overall race standing 1h 8m 40s off the lead.
Irishman Stan Watt secured his bet stage result of the 2012 race finishing 33rd onboard his Crescent KTM. Watt has now moved up to 35th in the overall standings, but will need to keep clawing back large amounts of time to challenge for a top 30 position.
At time of writing Desert Rose Racing rider Tobias Younger was yet to finish the stage and was lying 104th at checkpoint five with three check points remaining.
Results Stage 11
1, Cyril Despres, France, KTM 4 hours 03 minutes 37 seconds
2, Gerard Farres Guell, Spain, KTM at 1 minute 39
3, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM at 2:01
4, Johnny Aubert, France, KTM at 3:30
5, Joan Barreda Bort, Spain, Husqvarna at 4:53
Overall Results after Stage Eleven
1, Cyril Despres, France, KTM, 37 hours 11 minutes 16 seconds (15 minutes penalty)
2, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM at 2:22 (15 minutes penalty)
3, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha at 1:08:40 (15 minutes penalty)
4, Jordi Viladoms, Spain, KTM at 1:24:46
5, Stefan Svitko, Slovakia, KTM 1:34:56