French double on way for Dakar?
DAKAR IN DA BAG: Frenchman Cyril Despres lost Stage 13 of the Dakar Rally on Saturday - but now looks certain to win the overall bikes title. Image: AFP
Pisco, Peru - France's Stephane Peterhansel was on the brink of a 10th Dakar Rally title on Saturday after clinching the 13th and penultimate stage to take an overall lead of close to 43 minutes.
Bad news for South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and his Toyota Hilux, who had been running third overall and finished second on Saturday.
DE VILLIERS SECOND
And Cyril Despres looks virtually certain to make it a French double celebration in Sunday's finale in Lima, the Peruvian capital, after he was virtually handed the motorcycling title when closest rival Marc Coma lost his way in the sand dunes.
Peterhansel, driving a Mini, finished Saturday's 275km timed stage from Nasca ahead of South Africa's Giniel De Villiers in a Toyota.
Peterhansel, a three-times car winner and six-times motorcycle champion, has an overall lead of close to 43 minutes over Mini team mate Nani Roma of Spain. He finished in 3hr09min47 with De Villiers eight minutes back. Roma was seventh on Saturday, 23 minutes behind the French driver.
Controversial American Robby Gordon, driving under the threat of disqualification after his Hummer was deemed to have breached technical regulations, was eighth on the day.
Portugal's Helder Rodrigues, riding a Yamaha, won the penultimate stage of the motorcycle race ahead of Despres. Coma's navigational error in the dunes meant he finished 13min25 behind Rodrigues and 12min38 behind three-times champion Despres.
Rodrigues reached the finish in 3hr21min16, a winning margin of 47sec over Despres on his KTM.
Barring an accident, Despres will be assured of the 2012 title on Sunday when he starts the final stage in Lima with a lead of more than 11 minutes over Coma, who had been the overnight leader on Saturday, 95sec ahead of the Frenchman.
Coma, who lost his way at the 207km mark, said: “I started very fast, as fast as I could, because I knew it would be difficult to stay in the lead but 25km into the stage I had a mechanical problem that forced me to slow down.
“It was a gearbox problem and I feared I wouldn't be able to continue. So I am happy to be here, in second position, which is quite good. I fought throughout the entire rally and gave it everything I had at all times. That’s the way it is; I’m disappointed because I was not able to fight until the end.”
Despres, the 2005, 2007 and 2010 winner, said he was sad to see his KTM team mate lose his way. “I’m not the kind of person who derives pleasure from the problems of team mates, even less when it’s Marc Coma.
"At the refuelling station I saw I had clawed back five minutes from him then I got lost a couple of times; it was never a big problem but I had to stay focused.
"Today's stage was psychologically very tough. I always wait until the last day to enjoy things. I’ve seen so many things happen at the Dakar – today, more than I wanted to.”
Dakar Rally results on Saturday after Stage 13 over 375km (275km timed from Nasca to Pisco:
1 Stephane Peterhansel (FRA/Mini) 3hr09min47
2 Giniel de Villiers (RSA/Toyota) +8min29
3 Leonid Novitskiy (RUS/Mini) +12min55
4 Carlos Sousa (POR/Great Wall) +13min39
5 Lucio Alvarez (ARG/Toyota) +14min57
6 Ricardo Leal Dos Santos (POR/Mini) +15min04
7 Nani Roma (ESP/Mini) +22min57
8 Jean Azevedo (BRA/Nissan) +24min32
9 Alexander Mironeko (RUS/BMW) +32min10
10 Robby Gordon (USA/Hummer) +36min01
1 Stephane Peterhansel (FRA/Mini) 38hr28min51
2 Nani Roma (ESP/Mini) +42min57
3 Giniel de Villiers (RSA/Toyota) +1hr15min 09
4 Leonid Novitskiy (RUS/Mini) +2hr12min56
5 Robby Gordon (USA/Hummer) +2hr20min 05
6 Lucio Alvarez (ARG/Toyota) +4hr07min03
7 Carlos Sousa (POR/Great Wall) +4hr32min00
8 Ricardo Leal Dos Santos (POR/Mini) +5hr06min09
9 Bernhar Ten Brinkel (NED/FRA/Mitsubishi) +5hr11min41
10 Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL/Mini) +7hr02min12
1 Helder Rodrigues (POR/Yamaha) 3hr21min 16
2 Cyril Despres (FRA/KTM) +at OOmin47
3 Jordi Viladoms (ESP/KTM) +3min00
4 Joan Barreda Bort (ESP/Husqvarna) +5min13
5 Paulo Goncalvez (POR/Husqvarna) +5min46
6 Pal Ullevalseter (NOR/KTM) +5min55
7 Alessandro Botturi (ITA/KTM) +6min32
8 Frans Verhoeven (NED/Sherco) +6min38
9 Ruben Faria (POR/KTM) +7min06
10 Daniel Schroeder (GER/KTM) +8min14
1 Cyril Despres (FRA/KTM) 43hr 01min 54
2 Marc Coma (ESP/KTM) +at 11min03
3 Helder Rodrigues (POR/Yamaha) +1hr11min27
4 Jordi Viladoms (ESP/KTM) +1hr41min12
5 Stefan Svitko (SVK/KTM) +1hr49min36
6 Pal Ullevalseter (NOR/KTM) +2hr15min47
7 Gérard Farres Guell (ESP/KTM) +2hr16min12
8 Alessandro Botturi (ITA/KTM) +3hr00min44
9Olivier Pain (FRA/Yamaha) +3hr18min46
10 Felipe Zanol (BRA/KTM) +3hr24min37