2012 Dakar Rally ResultsAlthough only three stages into the 2012 Dakar Rally, the scenario is looking very similar to the past six years.
Following Stage Three, which took the motorcycle field from San Rafael to San Juan on Tuesday (180-mile connection, 167 timed), it’s once again a race between the two main rivals of Dakar – KTM teammates Cyril Despres and Marc Coma. Both KTM 450 Rally riders have three Dakar wins apiece, and have collectively won the title in the past six years.Heading into Stage Three, Coma had the lead over Despres, but a navigational error left Coma a bit stranded, and he followed the car and truck section of the special stage route for almost 2.5 miles. By the time Coma got back on track, Despres was leading, eventually taking the Stage-Three win by 13 minutes over Coma, who finished seventh. Taking second in Stage Three was Sherco SR450 rider Frans Verhoeven, who finished 8:37 behind Despres. Third went to Husqvarna Rally 450 RR rider Paulo Gonclaves, who finished 8:39 behind Despres.After taking his 27th Dakar stage victory, Despres now leads Coma in the overall standings by 10:12, with Yamaha 450 WRF rider David Casteu in third, 17:16 behind Despres.Cyril Despres (Red Bull KTM 450 Rally) says: "It was a very complicated special stage for me! It didn’t start well this morning, because when I hit a hole, I ripped off a fingernail on the clutch. 60 km later, my compass repeater stopped. "We reached the mountains and I wanted to keep the same pace, because I knew that Marc was riding very fast in front of me, but when we got to a stream, I must have slowed the pace when I had to check my GPS. To cap it all, I broke my rear brake on the big climb, so the descent was very tricky, but I made sure I was careful. "Over the last 50 kilometers, I couldn’t see many tire tracks, so I wasn’t sure that Marc was up ahead. In the end, I finished first and I’ve been told that he chose the wrong track so that’s going to be to my advantage. It’s good for my position, even if I’m never happy about other people’s setbacks."Marc Coma (MRW Red Bull AMV KTM 450 Rally) says: "After 170 km, there was a different track for the bikes and the cars. I checked the road-book and thought I was on the right track, but then I saw that wasn’t the case, because the next note was after 8 km and it wasn’t correct, so I turned round! 16 km is a lot! "So, after that, I went on the attack to tray and gain back some time, but today was a difficult day, even if the scenery was spectacular… Well, in the end, I’ve lost 13 minutes. It’s a lot, but when you make a mistake, you shouldn’t be surprised that the gaps open up. That’s racing for you. Yesterday was my day, but today definitely wasn’t!"The top American following Stage Two, JCR Honda’s Quinn Cody, was forced to withdraw from 2012 Dakar.Dakar reports that Cody crashed during Stage Three, and was assisted by KTM’s Juan Pedrero. Quinn was later diagnosed with a suspected collarbone fracture and head injury. Dakar Live Feed reports "His condition is not alarming, but nevertheless he has had to withdraw from the race."2012 Dakar Rally: Stage Three Motorcycle Results: