"That’s one more day of the rally gone and one day nearer to the finish. I’m happy. And the tires are as good as new."Chile’s Francisco Lopez – winner of two stages so far – finished third on the stage and stayed in third place overall while Pal Ullevalseter of Norway was fourth on the stage and remains in second overall.However, with a deficit of 1 hour and 21 minutes to make up on Despres, the Norweigan realistically needs the Frenchman to suffer engine problems to have a chance of taking the overall title."Even if it was a short special, it was intense," Despres said of Stage 9."Over the first 70 kilometres we kept swapping the lead. First it was Marc Coma, then it was me. We must have overtaken each other around fifteen times."At the finishing line, there were two possible routes. We each took a different one and finished at almost the same time."Neither of us wanted to give anything away and it’s proof that as riders we are very closely matched. In rally-raids, there are very few final sprints, but today, it was a matter of honor."