Operation "attack" at full blast For Cyril Despres the days of enforced rest must have been difficult to endure. There was nothing he could do to change anything. These tough rally kilometers where he could have attacked his opponents had been...
Operation "attack" at full blast
For Cyril Despres the days of enforced rest must have been difficult to endure. There was nothing he could do to change anything. These tough rally kilometers where he could have attacked his opponents had been canceled and in the overalls he is still behind the leader by about 45 minutes. And it is the first place in Dakar he is dreaming of.
Now there is only one tactic left for the young Frenchman. "Since the day I made the big mistake I'm attacking. It is the only thing I can do," explains Cyril Despres at the bivouac in Bamako. It was the 8th of January when Cyril went astray on the way from Atar to Tidjikja. He lost one hour that day. He won the longest special on Friday and he was victorious on today's special as well. With that gained 10 minutes back on Nani Roma. His opponent and team-mate Richard Sainct however lost some precious minutes. "Thank goodness we don't have a team order, neither with KTM nor with Gauloises," mentions Cyril Despres. "And I'm glad about that because I get to attack. Every one of us has the chance to win and everyone is allowed to win."
At the finish Richard Sainct wasn't completely satisfied with himself. "I couldn't ride as I wanted to. The holder of my seat was broken and it got loosened. Of course this was a big hindrance for me because after all the stage wasn't all that harmless. We had to endure lots of dust and there were lots of people and animals on the track. One had to be extremely careful."
It was an outstanding race for Larry Roeseler from Team Red Bull KTM USA. He claimed a 9th place today, his best placement so far. The track was made for the Dakar-newcomer. It had a fast and firm surface and lots of zigzags -- much like the tracks that the 46-year-old Californian is used to. "I liked the heat and the dust. That is what reminds me of home. Today everything was working out well." And his team coordinator Joe Barker was happy as well. "Larry knows what he is doing. He is fast and that was what he was able to prove. The terrain was made for him." Larry Roeseler enjoys every day that he can go on in this rally. "I want to climb on that podium in Dakar. That is my biggest goal. I'm collecting lots of experiences here. This Dakar rally is the climax of my racing career. It is just like the Super Bowl."
Carlo de Gavardo reached the bivouac in the same great mood. The 35-year-old Chilean arrived in 10th position today. "I'm glad about every stage that I perform well. The victory isn't within reach this year. As a rally-rider I need to find to myself first. I still a little beside myself. My crashes in spring and in September and the two times I broke my arm are still inside my head. Because of that I'm not all that content with my performance here." Carlo is in 9th place in the overall standings.
Even if the order of the standings has not yet changed there has still been some movement in the overalls. Nani Roma is still leading; he was even able to widen the gap on Richard Sainct. Alfie Cox is in 3rd position and Cyril Despres is gaining time, but still staying on 4th position. But the signal is clear: Nothing is decided yet.
It is what Winfried Kerschhaggle, KTM head of marketing, sees as well. "Even when the rally is half over a decisive part of the rally has just began. Even a change on the leadership is still possible. This week will show just how good the team-work within the teams actually is. Discipline among the team will decide who as individual and which team will finish up top. Every team has its own strategy."
Positive news has reached us from Paris: Jean Brucy has not broken his collarbone, but he has yanked out his shoulder blade. Jean doesn't need to be operated on. That means he will fly to Dakar on Saturday and can celebrate the finish of the rally. Maybe he even gets to celebrate the victory of one of his team-mates.
Tomorrow the fight for the top of the overalls will go on in the next level. The 13th stage leads back to Mauritania, towards Ayoún El Altroús. Time is only taken of 478 km of the 734 km route. The course is new to the rally crews. Again it is important to know how to navigate properly. Who will find its way best -- Nani or Cyril? Or is it for a third party to take advantage.