Cyril Despres has just 29km of timed special between him and his fourth Dakar win after another dramatic day in Peru. The Frenchman who lost his advantage to team-mate Marc Coma on stage 12 of the event saw his fortunes turnaround and he now has a massive 11m 3s lead with the short final stage remaining.
For Coma it was a nightmare stage with the Spaniard, who rode so strongly on stage 12, getting lost 207km in to stage 13. The factory KTM was over 2kn off course at one point and lost masses of time correcting his mistake. He also had to endure technical problems towards the end of the day which saw him slump to 18th position at the end of the stage.
Despres said: “I am not the kind of person who derives pleasure from the problems of teammates, and even less when it is Marc Coma who is in trouble,” he said. “I took no risks but I tried to gain ground on other riders. I saw I had clawed back five minutes from Marc at the refueling point. Then I got lost a couple of times. It was never a big problem but I had to stay focused. Today's stage was psychologically very tough. I always wait until the last day to enjoy things. I have seen so many things happen at the Dakar, and even more today. I want to stay calm and enjoy things a bit more.”
With just the technicality of finishing the short stage tomorrow, Coma has already conceded defeat.
He said: “I started very fast, as fast as I could, because I knew it would be difficult to stay in the lead. 25 km into the stage I had a mechanical problem that forced me to slow down and I feared I would not be able to continue. So I am happy to be here, in second position, which is quite good. I fought throughout the entire rally and gave it everything at all times. That is the way it is. I am disappointed because I was not able to fight until the end.”
The stage was won by Yamaha man Helder Rodrigues who secured his second stage win of the 2012 race.
Stan Watt finished stage 13 in 46th place and now sits 36th overall but is just 2m 28s behind his closest rival meaning that it is still possible to pick up another place.
At time of writing, Brit Tobias Younger was yet to finish the 275km timed special but had gone through check point four and still going.
Results Stage 13
1, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha 3 hours 21 minutes 16 seconds
2, Cyril Despres, France, KTM at 47 seconds
3, Jordi Viladoms, Spain, KTM at 3:10
4, Joan Barreda Bort, Spain, Husqvarna at 5:13
5, Paolo Goncalves, Portugal, Husqvarna at 5:45
Overall Results after Stage 13
1, Cyril Despres, France, KTM, 43 hours 01 minutes and 54 seconds
2, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM at 11 minutes 03
3, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha at 1:11:27
4, Jordi Viladoms, Spain, KTM at 1:41:12
5, Stefan Svitko, Slovakia, KTM 1:49:36