The arrival in the region of San Juan was by no means a soft landing, because the competitors had to tackle the longest special of the rally, totalling 523 km. It was a mixture of sand, fast tracks and bumpy rocky sections that severely tested the riders’ and drivers’ capacities with the tiredness of the last 12 days starting to take its toll. Weather and safety problems forced the organisers to cancel the stage for the bike and quad categories.
More than one hour behind Carlos Sainz in the general standings, Nasser Al-Attiyah knows that, unless anything unforeseen arises, he will not win his third Dakar. However, this did not stop the Toyota driver from going on all-out attack and putting on a show to pick up his third stage victory since the start in Lima, despite two punctures. Stéphane Peterhansel was involved in a close battle with the Qatari and took second place today, some way ahead of his Spanish team-mate and leader of the general standings, who nonetheless is still in total control of the rally. Ton Van Genugten no longer has any legitimate hopes in the general standings, but is continuing to grab stage victories. The Iveco driver triumphed again today, making it three wins out of the last five stages, ahead of Martin Kolomy who is still seeking his first success this year. In the SxS category, Reinaldo Varela gave another show of force to win for the fifth time on the rally. As a result, the Can Am driver extends his lead a little further over his nearest pursuer in the general standings, Frenchman Patrice Garrouste.
Performance of the day
Nasser Al-Attiyah is very much a complete driver, as proved by his three stage victories this year, on very different terrains. The two times winner of the Dakar has won the shortest stage of this year’s rally (31 km), but also the longest (523 km), bringing his total of victories on the Dakar to 30, one less than Carlos Sainz and one more than Jacky Ickx…
A crushing blow
Like the 9th stage, stage 12 of the Dakar was also cancelled for the bikes and quads. This was a disappointment for all the riders who were looking forward to enjoying the tracks leading to San Juan to try and gain a place on the podium, or better. Kevin Benavides and Toby Price, who have not totally given up on their dreams of outright victory, now have one less opportunity to put pressure on Matthias Walkner, whilst Gerard Farres and Antoine Meo now find themselves that little bit further from a potential place on the podium.
Stat of the day
One second. That is the gap in the general standings between the Kamaz driven by Eduard Nikolaev, the new leader, and the Iveco of Federico Villagra, who was dethroned today. After 7,518 km since the start in Lima, this is an insignificant gap. The two men will battle for overall victory during the last two stages. For them, it is almost a new rally that starts now…
Quote of the day
Bernhard ten Brinke: “We did a good stage. Unfortunately, a sensor broke and the engine cut out. I took the hood off the engine and went under the car to disconnect the sensor. It cost us one and a half minutes. The goal was not to beat Nasser today. The goal was to make a good time, not to lose too much time and I think we did it well. It was the first time for Michel and me opening the stage”