This was the third year running that the rally featured a mixed start, meaning that cars, motorbikes and quads took turns to start based on their times in the previous stage. La Rioja province, the only region that has featured in every Dakar since the rally came to South America, is also the scene of the second motorbike marathon stage. The stars of the Dakar will have to take care of their machines on their own after another taxing day.
Bernhard ten Brinke is having a stellar Dakar after sitting out last year’s edition. The Dutchman, who has featured in the top 10 in every single stage so far, today became one of only two drivers (together with his Toyota teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah) to deny Peugeot. Carlos Sainz, Stéphane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres struck a truce, leaving the general classification unchanged. The provisional classification also remained the same in the motorbike category after Matthias Walkner rode conservatively to finish 11′01′′ behind the winner. The stage went to his Australian teammate Toby Price, who ended his drought at the Dakar by beating local lad Kevin Benavides and the other factory KTM rider, Antoine Meo. Meanwhile, Nicolás Cavigliasso showed his quad rivals how it is done by taking his second consecutive stage in Argentina and putting more than 15 minutes into overall leader Ignacio Casale. The truck category saw Belarusian Siarhei Viazovich (Maz) take his maiden win in Chilecito.
Performance of the day
Federico Villagra has been a beacon of consistency, finishing in the top 2 of eight out of ten specials so far. The overwhelming dominance of Eduard Nikolayev and his Kamaz at the start of the Dakar did nothing to dampen the Argentinian’s fighting spirit, and today he finally seized the lead on home turf in Chilecito. The winner of the last Rally of Morocco is on track to claim his first Dakar in his third participation in the truck category.
A crushing blow
Murphy’s law seems to pursue Joan Barreda at the Dakar. With three stage wins under his belt, the factory Honda rider lit up the race again this year. The Spaniard started today’s stage in second place overall, but he succumbed to the efforts of the last few days and the knee injury he sustained on stage 7, which forced him to withdraw in the face of the overwhelming pain and exhaustion.
Stat of the day
Cyril Despres, Carlos Sainz and Stéphane Peterhansel struck an interesting truce today, with just 15 seconds separating the three factory Peugeot drivers after 280 km of racing. This is tantamount to a difference of only 270 metres between Despres’s 3008 Maxi and Peterhansel’s!
Quote of the day
Nicolás Cavigliasso: “My 450 cc quad is fast on sand, and that is where I made the difference. Now we’re on Argentinian soil, and I’ve grown familiar with it since I got serious about rally raids. My goal is getting to Córdoba, which is also where I come from, so it would be incredible. Apart from that, I want to finish as high as possible. Winning three stages is amazing.”
Slight changes have been made to the course of stage 12 for motorbikes and quads. They will start after the cars but at the same place as them, so they will not follow a separate route in the first part of the stage.