Chilecito to San Juan
One of the toughest days in the 33rd edition of the Dakar Rally, Thursday brought the motorcycle field on 370-km, two-part special through the canyons at the foothills of the Andes.
Stage 11 was taken Cyril Despres, which was his third of the 2011 Dakar. The Frenchman was followed 2:11 seconds later by his KTM teammate and nemesis, Marc Coma (Spain).
Rounding out the top five were Chaleco Lopes (Chile, Aprilia), Helder Rodrigues (Portugal, Yamaha) and Alain Duclos (France, Aprilia).
With his Dakar Stage 11 victory, Despres now moves closer to Coma in the overall standings; Despres now trails him by 15:59 seconds with two stages remaining.
Cyril Despres (KTM Dakar) says: "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."
After his third-place finish at Thursday’s stage, Lopez bumps his time to 49:24 seconds behind Coma; he is the only rider within an hour of Coma / Despres. In fourth overall is Rodrigues, who is 1:35:10 seconds behind Coma.
The penultimate stage from San Juan to Cordoba is a 123 km link and 555 km special that kicks off with a challenging 100 km of sand track.
2011 Dakar Rally Stage 11 Results
1. Cyril Despres, France, KTM, 4:33:13
2. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM, at 2:11
3. Chaleco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia at 6:19
4. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha, 7:44
5. Alain Duclos, France, Aprilia, 10:03
2011 Dakar Rally Standings after Stage 11
1. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM
2. Cyril Despres, France, KTM, at 15:59
3. Chaleco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia at 49:24
4. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha, 1:35:10
5. Juan Pedrero, Spain, KTM at 2:42:55