Dakar: KTM stage 13 report

Spanish tranquility and French attacks It was an unexpected tough stage. During the months of fall it has rained a lot in the Sahel-region. Now the tracks in this part of West Africa are littered with deep holes and ruts. The route demanded a...

Spanish tranquility and French attacks

It was an unexpected tough stage. During the months of fall it has rained a lot in the Sahel-region. Now the tracks in this part of West Africa are littered with deep holes and ruts. The route demanded a lot of power and concentration.

If there was someone who lost today, it was definetely Cyril Despres. For about 400 km his attack was very successful. "It was afterwards," explained the Frenchman, "when my hands started hurting. My motorbike's hand protectors had fallen off and the thorns on the bushes along the way scratched my hands. I couldn't turn the acceleration handle as far as I had wanted to. Afterwards my concentration slipped and some small navigation mistakes happened." He wasted precious minutes on that. The leadership in the overall standings has moved in a far distance. However, the 29-year-old does not surrender yet. "I'm going to attack again tomorrow."

Nani Roma doesn't pay much attention to such talk. The leader of the overalls was able to watch his competitor today. "I believe Cyril has enormous problems navigating properly. He was going right, he was going left. Obviously he just couldn't find the right way."

Roma had more luck today, although there were several moments of fright along the way. "At first I was stopped by a cow and crashed. And 40 kilometers before the finish line my temperature display started to blink. From that moment on I had to go on slowly to reach the finish line safely." In spite of today's dramatic fight concerning the leadership of the overalls the Spaniard keeps surprisingly calm. "I ride my own race and only think about one stage at the time. I don't care just who is going to attack me. I won't let them put pressure on me. It would really be great if I should be able to defend my leading position until Dakar. It would be a fabulous success for Spain."

Richard Sainct will definitely be trying to prevent this wish. "I'm going to attack farther. Today it wasn't exactly what I had wanted to accomplish. For a long time I was riding in the dust of Lundmark and Ullevalseter. Tomorrow I'll only have one rider in front of me. There is only one goal I'm aiming for: celebrating my victory at Dakar."

Alfie Cox had to bury his dream today. "In spite of my experience I made many mistakes. I don't exactly know why. The navigation was just too difficult for me." At the beginning of the stage Alfie had stopped at Marc Coma's side. "Marc has had a brutal crash. I witnessed it. For a moment he has lost consciousness. When his consciousness returned he didn't know where he was. I helped him to stand up again. Marc climbed back on his bike again and rode on. For a moment I wasn't so sure if he knew what he was doing." At the finish line Coma was still a little wobbly. First test however showed that he is doing okay.

Paul Krause, too, had a lot on his agenda as well. The rider of the Team Red Bull KTM USA wasn't really content with his 21st place. "The track had lots of zigzags and I had a hard time changing directions again and again," explains the 39-year-old. Today his thoughts were with his daughter who turned 8 years. For her he already has accomplished one little mission. Breanne handed him a lucky charm for the journey. It is a paper doll called "flat stanley". "I'm taking pictures of the little guy from everywhere," tells Paul. "It is kind of like a competition in my daughter's grade at school. When Breanne's teacher came to know that I'm leaving for the Dakar rally she was thrilled." Breanne will certainly think alike because she will surely have the most pictures in her grade. Isn't it just great that daddy is racing in Africa? By the way, he is doing so for the 2nd time. Paul Krause has already participated in 1998 and arrived at Dakar in 14th place.

Let's look at the momentary overall standings. Richard Sainct is barely 7'25 minutes behind Nani Roma. Cyril Despres moves from place 4 to place 3, but the gap has widened to 45'39 minutes. Alfie Cox is right behind him.

Tomorrow the riders are going to tackle the 2nd marathon stage. The first part includes crossing 551 km towards Tidjikja. Sand and dunes await the competitors. Since the rest day, Fabrizio Meoni was been looking forward to this stage. There is no chance for him to win the rally this year. Tomorrow he wants to show what he can really do. A farewell performance? At the bivouac there will only be the support of the fast assistance which is driving along the race. The service trucks have already started on their way towards the bivouac at Nouakchott.


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Series Dakar
Drivers Fabrizio Meoni , Cyril Despres , Alfie Cox , Richard Sainct , Nani Roma , Paul Krause