News 15 Jan 2011

Coma inching toward Dakar victory, Smith stars on Stage 12

This morning saw the running of the 12th day of the Personal Argentina Chile Dakar 2011, the bike race dominated by Marc Coma in spite of a last hurrah from a Cyril Despres hungry for time to regain.

The Catalan biker won his fifth special of the year and has a lead of more than 16 minutes in the general standings with just one day of action remaining for this year’s race.

For this penultimate stage between San Juan and Cordoba, the organisers 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 318km.

It was with the bit between his teeth and well aware that today would probably be his last chance that 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 Coma even reached more than 2:30 after 240km.

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. 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 eight 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 fifth place just behind ‘Chaleco’ Lopez.

In the general standings, Coma now holds a lead of 16:36 over Despres, nearly one hour over Lopez and 1 hour, 42 minutes over Rodrigues.

Aussie Jacob Smith was an incredible 12th in the stage for his best performance to date, while Simon Pavey was 66th today.

Overall, Smith sits 29th overall while Pavey is 68th.

2011 Dakar Rally
Stage 12 Results

1. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM
2. Cyril Despres, France, KTM
3. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha
4. Chaleco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia
5. Quinn Alexis Cody USA, Honda
12. Jacob Smith, Australia, Honda
66. Simon Pavey, Australia, BMW

Standings after Stage 12
1. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM
2. Cyril Despres, France, KTM
3. Chaleco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia
4. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha
5. Juan Pedrero, Spain, KTM
29. Jacob Smith, Australia, Honda
68. Simon Pavey, Australia, BMW