Dakar: Stage 13 report

Back on the bikes... After a day of mourning in memory of Fabrizio Meoni, time had come to get back on the bikes and carry on the race. With a black scarf on their arms, the 108 took off for the 370kms of the special between Bamako and Kayes.

Back on the bikes...

After a day of mourning in memory of Fabrizio Meoni, time had come to get back on the bikes and carry on the race. With a black scarf on their arms, the 108 took off for the 370kms of the special between Bamako and Kayes. The fastest on the day was Andy Caldecott, the Aussie clinching his second stage success on the rally. In the car race, Peter captured the win and added precious minutes to his overall lead.

After the cars and trucks yesterday, it was the bikers' turn to pay tribute to one of the greatest heroes of the Dakar, Fabrizio Meoni. With a black scarf around their arm, the riders took off in the middle of the Bamako night, on a 205km liaison to head to the start of the day's special. The sun had just set when the first bikers started their race with Marc Coma in the leading position (after winning the last special). It appeared however that the official KTM favourites had decided to start gently with Andy Caldecott clocking the best time at the first check point (km 152), ahead of Chris Blais on a very technical track. David Frétigné reacted at the second CP (km 246) with the best time while overall leader Cyril Despres had to stop and repair exhaust pipe problems after hitting stones on a small fall. The Frenchman indeed lost time but made up for it in the last very fast portion of the special. Meanwhile, Andy Caldecott was flying to his second win on the rally and crossed the finish line with a 2'06 on Frétigné and 3'32 on Chris Blais who manages his best performance so far.

The overall leadership remains in the hands of Cyril Despres who comforts his lead on Marc Coma. The Frenchman now has a 16'06 on Coma who finished ninth on the day (at 9'34) while Despres was 8th at 8'36.

On four wheels, the main difficulty, like yesterday concerned the narrow paths and many trees. It didn't however seem to be too much of a problem for Stephane Peterhansel. The title holder rapidly caught Giniel De Villiers' Nissan Pickup (who had taken off first after his win yesterday) and passed the South African before CP1. He then took advantage of a navigation error from his team mate Luc Alphand to take full command of the stage with the best time at CP2 (km 246). On the finish line, the Red armada managed the double with 'Peter' beating his team mate Alphand by 4'17 while De Villiers had to settle for third spot at 7'59. Peterhansel wins his 15th special on four wheels and his 48th overall. The good news of the day came both from Thierry Magnaldi who grabbed an excellent 4th spot in his Honda buggy while Nani Roma (MIT) finished 5th, his best ever performance on four wheels. It was a whole different story for Jutta Kleinschmidt (VW) and her 'bodyguard' Bruno Saby, who lost an extra 12' on 'Peter' and 8' on Alphand. The German driver is now 1h30 adrift in the overall. The fright of the day came from Josep-Maria Servia who went for a tumble in his Schlesser-Ford buggy, 10km after CP2 (where he had clocked the third best time). No worries for driver and co-driver, but the vehicle appeared to be badly damaged and was slowly heading to the finish.

The truck race saw a DAF 1-2-3... Indeed, in outstanding fashion, Gerard De Rooy took off in first spot after his first win yesterday and flew to his second triumph. The DAF trucker crossed the finish line with a huge 18'50 lead on his father Jan while Belgian Hugo Duisters on another DAF managed an excellent third spot at 31'23. Fourth was four-time Dakar Vladimir Tchaguine (KAM), 33'17 adrift, while his team mate and overall leader Firdaus Kabirov finished with a 51'55 deficit on De Rooy. Not too much of a concern for the Russian who still has a comfortable 2h40 lead on Hans Bekx (DAF).

-dakar.com

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Series Dakar
Drivers Luc Alphand , Jutta Kleinschmidt , Stéphane Peterhansel , Fabrizio Meoni , Cyril Despres , Hugo Duisters , Bruno Saby , Nani Roma , Marc Coma , Josep-Maria Servia , David Fretigne , Chris Blais , Firdaus Kabirov , Andy Caldecott , Thierry Magnaldi , Hans Bekx