Cyril Despres went on the attack on stage 11 of the Dakar to close down rival and overall leader Marc Coma by 2m 11s. The Frenchman now has an impressive 26 stage victories to his name but still trails Coma by 15m 59s in the overall standings with just two stages of the 2011 event remaining.
Despres said: "If you want to win you have to really try and that is what I am doing. I'm doing everything I can, everything I know. It has to be said it was a superb special. Even if the time wasn't great, it was a pleasure to ride. In 2007 I won two days before the finish, and if I don't have a hope, it's impossible to ride at speeds like that. I'm still hoping and carrying on attacking. With Marc, we both ride KTM bikes and that's an advantage. We're quite close, but for the moment, the fat lady hasn't sung yet. There are still two days left".
Third place on the stage and overall is Francisco Lopez onboard his factory Aprilia. The Chilean rider finished the stage 6m 19s behind Despres and is 49m 24s behind Coma in the overall standings.
“Today I worked hard to guide the bike with the tanks at full level. When it began to descend, I was able to drive better and in fact, I was catching Coma and Despres. After the refuelling, there was a technical zone, and seeing that I couldn’t change anything, I preferred to slow down the rhythm.”
There are now just 96 riders remaining out of the 186 starters with two stages of the race remaining.
Stage 12 will see riders go from San Juan to Cordoba with a 123 km liaison and a 555km timed special.