Pride of place went to the trucks today, as they opened proceedings for the 12th day of the Personal Argentina Chile Dakar 2011. Like the day before, Chagin won to close in on his 7th title on the Dakar. The bike race was dominated by Marc Coma in spite of a last hurrah from a Cyril Despres hungry for time to regain. The Catalan biker wins his 5th special of the year and has a lead of more than 16 minutes in the general standings. – DAKAR 2011 News via Dakar.com
For this penultimate stage between San Juan and Cordoba, the organizers decided to send the trucks out first along a shorter route than the other competitors, covering the second half of the car, bike and quad special, for a total distance of 318 km. Just like the two previous days, Vladimir Chagin reigned supreme over the rest of the field. The Russian Kamaz driver picked up his 7th stage victory in 2011 and the 63rd of his career on the Dakar. Today, Chagin beat his team-mate Firdaus Kabirov by 1’05 and Spaniard Pep Vila (Iveco-De Rooy) by a little less than 5 minutes.
As a result, Chagin closes in on his 7th title. In the general standings, the “Tsar” possesses a very significant lead that stands at more than half an hour over Kabirov. The two men are followed by two other Kamaz drivers, Nikolaev, nearly 3 hours behind, and Mardeev, more than 5 and a half hours behind.
It was with the bit between his teeth and well aware that today would probably be his last chance that Cyril Despres set off this morning. With the disadvantage of opening the road, the KTM biker still manage to produce a festival of riding. His lead over the general standings leader Marc Coma even reached more than 2’30 after 240 km. Perhaps the Frenchman had in mind the misfortune suffered by the Catalan who lost everything in the space of a second whilst leading the race in 2007, hitting a tree near Tambacounda two days before the end of the rally.
However, there were no mishaps for Coma today. The general standings leader rode a clean special, looking after his machine and avoiding navigation errors before attacking on the stage’s finish. As a result, the Spaniard made up for the time lost to Despres and won the special, his 5th since the start of the rally. It is his 16th stage triumph on the Dakar, one more than the late and lamented Richard Sainct. Behind this elite pair, Helder Rodrigues limited the damage in third position, more than 8 minutes behind the day’s winner.
The other notable performance of the day came from American Quinn Cody on his Honda 450. The leading “rookie” on the Dakar picked up a fine 5th place just behind “Chaleco” Lopez. In the general standings, Marc Coma now holds a lead of 16’36 over Despres, nearly 1 hour over Lopez and 1 hour 42 minutes over Rodrigues.
For more race info, check out Dakar.com.