San Juan to Cordoba
The penultimate stage of the 2011 Dakar Rally brought the motorcycle field through 678 km, including a 123-km special. And for the fifth time of the 33rd edition of the Dakar Rally, Marc Coma took the victory Friday aboard the KTM Rally 450.
But Coma didn’t have a runaway victory; the Spaniard finished only 37 seconds ahead of his nemesis, fellow KTM rider Cyril Despres. Taking third was Helder Rodrigues, who finished 7:21 behind Coma on the Yamaha.
Marc Coma (KTM Dakar) says: "Today was complicated due to all the rain that fell last night. As a result, it was a very technical stage, like in endurance racing. But it went fine. There is still a 190-km stage left to race tomorrow.
"Normally, there shouldn’t be any complications, but we still need to race them, it’s there to be done. It just shows that the route has been designed to ensure that there is suspense up to the end, so we’ll just have to wait and see tomorrow."
In the overall standings, it looks like KTM will take its 10th victory in Dakar history. But it’s still a two-man battle between Coma and Despres. The Frenchman Despres is now 16:36 seconds behind Coma. In third overall is Francisco Chaleco Lopez, who is just under an hour behind Coma.
Cyril Despres (KTM Dakar) says: "I had to go on the attack, it’s a bit second nature for me anyway, so I’ve been going for it since the first kilometer, even if I slowed a bit at the end. At least it’s good to not have any regrets. I gave it everything I had and it was a long day.
"It must have rained a lot last night because the tracks were churned up with lots of mud. It was hellish. My chances are looking slimmer though. After a day like that with 555 km to cover and opportunities to open up gaps, we more or less cancelled each other out. Mind you, it’s not the end of the world, you know, you have to keep things in perspective".
The final stage of the Dakar 2011 takes riders from Cordoba to Buenos Aires through a 645-km link and a relatively short 181-km special, which finishes at the Baradero racing track in the Argentinean capital. After all is said and endured, 9,500 km will be complete.
2011 Dakar Rally Stage 12 Results
1. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM 6:42:42
2. Cyril Despres, France, KTM, at 00:37
3. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha, 7:21
4. Chaleco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia at 10:03
5. Quinn Alexis Cody USA, Honda, 15:45
2011 Dakar Rally Standings after Stage 12
1. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM
2. Cyril Despres, France, KTM, at 16:36
3. Chaleco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia at 59:27
4. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha, 1:42:31
5. Juan Pedrero, Spain, KTM at 3:06:00