Marc Coma rode the stage of his life to secure the stage victory and move back into the overall lead of the 2012 Dakar with just two stages remaining. The Spanish rider started the 12th stage in third place, four minutes behind rival and team-mate Cyril Despres, but was able to catch the Frenchman before attacking hard in the closes stages of he timed special.
Coma now leads by 1m 35s after 12 days of racing, but is under no illusion of how important tomorrows 275KM timed special will be if he wants to secure his fourth Dakar victory of his illustrious career.
Coma said: ““I set off four minutes after Cyril and I managed to catch up with him. For the entire first part of the special I mainly focused on navigation, because there was absolutely no room for mistakes. After that, I knew that there would be good opportunities to attack in the second part and that's where I managed to regain ground on Cyril. It's no way near over, because there's another big stage tomorrow.”
Despres saw his overall lead disappear; finishing the day fourth, but as a result is well placed to gain valuable time on Coma who will start tomorrows stage first meaning Despres will have a target to catch.
He said: ““It was one of the finest specials that I've ridden on the Dakar over the last few years. In sporting terms, I expected that Marc was going to catch up with me and that it wouldn't be a good day. But it was majestic. I don't have any regrets, because I attacked throughout the first part. You have to go for broke on this Dakar; it's not a race where you can play the waiting game. Against Marc Coma, I'm doing battle with an excellent rider. He's quick and clever. So, I try and find the right pace. There are riders in between us, so that's good news for the start tomorrow.”
Irishman Stan Watt finished the day in 36th place and now holds 35th in the overall standings.
Brit, Tobias Younger continues to push hard and dig deep and remains in the arduous event with just two days remaining. The Desert Rose Racing rider finished the day in 100th place and now sits 99th overall. 188 riders started the race on 1st January.
Results Stage 12
1, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM 2 hours 24 minutes 38
2, Joan Barreda Bort, Spain, Husqvarna at 2:43
3, Jordi Viladoms, Spain, KTM at 3:10
4, Cyril Despres, France, KTM 3:57
5, Paolo Goncalves, Portugal, Husqvarna at 5:25
Overall Results after Stage 12
1, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM, 39 hours 38 minutes 16 seconds (15 minutes penalty)
2, Cyril Despres, France, KTM at 1:35 (15 minutes penalty)
3, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha at 1:13:49 (15 minutes penalty)
4, Jordi Viladoms, Spain, KTM at 1:40:34
5, Stefan Svitko, Slovakia, KTM 1:41:45