Stage 11 of the 2013 Dakar Rally started in La Rioja, Argentina and ended in Fiambala, Argentina. But later in the day when the cars started the runoff from the storm in the mountains caused a tremendous amount of flooding making it nearly impossible for the cars to cross raging rivers. The Dakar organizers decided to stop the stage 53km in, and so far it looks as if the times for CP1 might be used for the finish.
Robby Gordon started fifth for the day but quickly made up time as he crossed WP2 in second then took over the lead by WP3. With the stage ending early 53km into the special due to the impassible rivers, Robby got the win for todays stage.
Gordon – “For us, it was a good special. It could have been a better special for us. Obviously, they canceled it. We had caught Roma, Terranova, and De Villiers. We passed all of them. We think we got the win, we never made it to CP2 and were first to CP1.”
Giniel De Villiers had a good run today and holds onto second overall behind Peterhansel by about 50 minutes. De Villiers – “We started slow today in the rocks and Robby caught and passed us. We made a good navigational call and others got lost. When they stopped us we waited about 10 minutes for the first car to arrive. It’s unfortunate it was canceled because we had about 10 minutes on everyone else.”
With only three stages left Stéphane Peterhansel needs to stay consistent which shouldn’t be a problem for the most successful Dakar competitor of all time. Peterhansel’s first Dakar was in 1988 in the bike category riding for Yamaha. 1991 was the first of his ten Dakar wins, six being on the bike and four in the car category. 2012 was his last win which was the first year he competed in the X-Raid Mini. Peterhansel – “We need to stay safe, secure and avoid trouble.”
The bikes had a clean run today on a slightly different course than the cars. The weather hadn’t caused any major flooding yet but some had navigational issues. As of stage 11 KTM holds the top four overall spots as well as sixth overall.
Cyril Despres tells his strategy through the water – “I took my time and took care today, you had to avoid the rios because they get dangerous. I hopped off my bike through them.” Despres holds onto the overall lead after todays stage 13 minutes ahead of Faria. Despres – “The stage in Fiambala always holds surprises in store. I’m more tired today after 190 km than I was for the day before yesterday over more than 800 km. There was a storm in the dunes and it started raining. It wasn’t easy to navigate. We came across some streams full of mud and water, which brought back bad memories from last year. I don’t know what today means in terms of results, but I’m just happy to be here without too many problems. Fiambala really is a sh**-hole. We spent time in the water walking alongside the bike. Today, everyone was a little bit calmer, but I knew it would be complicated. I’m surprised that I haven’t seen more riders finish behind me, because at one point, there were 6 or 8 of us riding together. The pace went up a lot after Kurt overtook me. Perhaps that’s why I’m a bit tired!”
Kurt Caselli started fifth today and after recovering from a navigational issue took over the lead about half way through the special at WP4. Casseli’s lead grew by each waypoint and he won todays stage by a margin of 00:04:45 over second place Goncalves. This is his second stage win in this years Dakar showing that he was a very good choice to replace Marc Coma. Casseli interview after the finish – “The beginning was really tough. Due to the rain there was a bunch of ruts everywhere, so the first few guys had to go really slowly. I think I started fifth, so I was able to catch up. Then I passed Cyril at maybe after 60 km back and just followed on from there. Today was good, it was perfect. The dirt was wet so you could see fine and the weather was good, so it was a nice day. Except for a few drop-offs, the road-book was good today and I think everyone should be fine. I feel good and the bike feels good. I’m starting to get more comfortable with the road-book, so I’m just riding around. Before I really had a lot of trouble and missed some way points. Today was better, because I got to find my own way and didn’t miss anything, so it was good. I’m taking it day by day, every day.”