CORDOBA, Argentina - South Africa's Darryl Curtis and Riaan Niekerk continue their 2013 Dakar campaign in South America, following Stage 9 of the world's toughest endurance race. After the 842km stage between San Miguel de Tucuman and Cordoba in Argentina, Dakar rookie Niekerk is 14th overall on a factory KTM, 29 minutes behind current overall leader, KTM rider Ruben Faria.Niekerk finished 21st during Stage 9 despite starting well back in the field and having to contend with dust throughout the 593km special stage, which was won by KTM team leader and defending champion Cyril Despres.DUST WOES, CURTIS FALLSCurtis placed 31st having suffered a fall in the dust and starting 94th in the surviving field of 140 bikes (183 started the rally in Lima, Peru, on January 5 2013). He is now 17th overall, 1hr27min behind the leader and nearly four minutes behind Niekerk.Curtis said: “The elite riders opted to start closer to the front and that pushed us right back. Due to our poor results in Stage 8 (Niekerk 38th and Curtis 77th), Riaan started 57th and I started 94th. "The route was fast and really dusty with narrow tracks in the hills and the forests. It was almost impossible to pass. I had a big crash in the dust. It was a very bad situation, but we came out of it ok and were able to maintain our overall positions.”'SPECTATORS INCREDIBLE'Niekerk commented: “We’ve been on the road for 12 hours since the start of the liaison section early this morning and over eight hours on the special. It’s been a really long day – very, very dusty. I didn’t crash, the bike’s still in one piece and I’m ok. "You won’t believe the number of spectators that are watching the race. It’s incredible. There are people everywhere, at every corner, cheering and waving and thousands of them in the towns. It’s mind-boggling.”Another day of fast tracks lies ahead before the rally encounters more dunes later in the week. Stage 10 sees competitors take on a 632km journey north from Cordoba to La Rioja in Argentina. It starts with a short 37km liaison section, followed by a 353km special stage and a 243km liaison section to the overnight bivouac.