Spaniard Isidre Esteve took his second Dakar stage victory when he took yesterday’s 12th stage from Ayoun to Kayes.
The KTM rider finished over three minutes ahead of Portuguese Paulo Goncalvez (Honda) while Pole Jacek Czachor (KTM) scored his third top three stage finish of the rally. South African Tom Classen scored a surprise fourth place on a KTM.
Spaniard Marc Coma retained his lead in the rally on his factory KTM but finished 17 minutes down on Esteve after nagivation problems on the 257km special stage.
His overall lead is 52:48 ahead of Frenchman Cyril Despres who also ran into navigational problems and finished the stage in 13th place.
David Casteu stretched his advantage over KTM’s Chris Blais in their battle for the final podium spot.
The Frenchman finished the stage in eighth place, beating 19th placed Blais by almost six minutes and is now more than 30 minutes ahead of him overall.
Steve Malone is now the sole British rider on the rally. He completed the stage in 106th place and is now 109th overall.