The Dakar resumed on Monday after a single day’s rest at San Miguel de Tucumán – and that day off must have seemed like nothing when faced with the epic 593km Special Stage ahead. The route took the drivers to Cordoba, and was split into two competitive sections separated by a non-timed link.
After a fast start to the stage Toyota’s Giniel De Villiers lost time with first a brake issue and then a puncture, and it was Nani Roma who put in the quickest time in his X-Raid Mini with team-mate Stéphane Peterhansel four minutes in arrears. Their team-mate Orlando Terranova posted the third fastest time in his older BMW and Robbie Gordon put in another stellar effort in his big Hummer, making his problems earlier in the rally even more frustrating.
Second-place driver Nasser Al-Attiyah stopped his Red Bull Buggy several times on the route – he’d already lost time during the first half of the stage, and then suffered repeated engine trouble that led to the team retiring his car overnight. He joins his team-mate Carlos Sainz as a spectator from now on. This removed Peterhansel’s primary opposition, and gave him a 50 minute cushion over the new second-place man, De Villiers. And what a comfortable cushion.
Stage 10 continued the Dakar’s progress through Argentina, winding its way out of Cordoba for 353km before a long link that took the competitors to La Rioja. Terranova was again strong in his X-Raid BMW, taking the stage win by two minutes from Roma, with Peterhansel just 10 seconds behind in third. De Villiers was another couple of minutes back, further increasing Peterhansel’s lead. The cushion just had feathers added.
Stage 11’s 219km of competitive running was shortened by 30km because of more flooding, but then the organisers were forced to stop the stage at the first checkpoint because of another impassable river swollen with rainwater. Some cars did get stuck – and quite dramatically, as you can see at 30 seconds in on the above summary video.
Positions for the stage were set by the times taken at the 67km control point, meaning that Robbie Gordon was awarded the shortened stage win in his Hummer as he’d set the fastest time to that point – this gave him an eighth Dakar stage victory.
Next the surviving competitors return to the mountains: the Andes chain awaits them, followed by the Atacama desert in Chile. Mountains, dunes and stones – lots of stones. Just 96 cars are still running of the 153 that started a week and a half ago. Things aren’t going to get any easier for them in the final three days of the 2013 Dakar. Can anyone stop Peterhansel taking his 11th Dakar win?
Dakar 2013: Positions after Stage 11
1: Stephane Peterhansel (X-Raid Mini) 29h07m25s
2: Giniel de Villiers (Imperial Toyota Hilux) +51m59s
3: Leonid Novitskiy (X-Raid Mini) +1h26m40s
4: Nani Roma (X-Raid Mini) +1h37m09s
5: Orlando Terranova (X-Raid BMW) +2h01m27s