Red Bull KTM rider Cyril Despres claimed his third stage win of the 2009 Dakar to move up into second position overall, but still remains 1h 29m 48s behind the fast and consistent race leader Marc Coma.
Despres recorded his 20th Dakar stage win of his illustrious career in the planned 253KM stage which had to be shortened to bypass a recent archaeological find.
Although the stage was short it proved to be one of the toughest of the event in terms of technicality and navigation.
Despite setting the fastest time, Despres has once again been unable to make any in roads in to Coma’s dominant overall lead.
“The navigation was really difficult today, it was like a treasure hunt and it is always a pleasure when you find the right point.
"Then 3 or 4 kilometres from the end it got a little less fun with a modification to the road book that wasn't too clear and I lost some minutes.
"I heard Frétigné's engine at the first refuelling CP and it didn't sound too good so I guessed there was a good chance of getting the second place overall.”
Coma who's led the 2009 Dakar from day one has only two days left to remain focussed to win his second Dakar of his career.
The Spaniard has remained controlled and disciplined and barring any major problem has one hand on the historic Argentina - Chile Dakar win.
“It started to rain this morning at breakfast and we were a little bit worried what that would do to the special. Fortunately it wasn't too bad.
"There were some places where it was a little muddy, but nothing serious. The thing that made today difficult was the navigation - particularly at the end. I don't think the road book was wrong, just difficult to interpret. The sand was also very soft which didn't make life any easier!”
Yamaha France rider David Fretigne remains in contention for second place despite suffering technical problems which forced him to ride the final few KM’s with no oil in his WR450.
The Frenchman was as amazed as anyone to finish the short, but tough stage 12 and will be looking to close down Despres in second spot after fitting a new engine to his Yamaha.
Brit Mick Extance remains in the race but had a disastrous day in terms of overall result. The Honda Europe rider has been handed a four hour time penalty after race organisers found he’d missed a check point on stage 10 of the event.
Stanley Watt is now escalated to top Brit overall in an impressive 22nd place with Extance now 34th.
Craig Bounds holds 58th with Si Pavey in 73rd, Ewan Buchan 88th and Gary Ennis 92nd.