Peterhansel, Despres close in on Dakar titles
American Robby Gordon won the 13th stage of the Dakar Rally on Friday, while Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel kept his commanding lead in the overall standings with one day to go.
Gordon was 22 seconds ahead of Guerlain Chicherit of France in the cars category, while Peterhansel finished nearly 14 minutes off the pace.
Peterhansel is still nearly certain to win his 11th Dakar title barring any mishap, as he leads the overall car standings by 44 minutes, 38 seconds ahead of Giniel de Villieres of South Africa. Other competitors are more than an hour behind. The rally finishes Saturday in the Chilean capital Santiago.
"We didn't take any risks at all and we only lost a few minutes, but we managed to protect our lead this way," Peterhansel said. "There were some impressive dunes, but rather than risking getting stuck on them, we preferred to go either right or left around them and then get back on track afterwards."
Peterhansel spoke cautiously, knowing he still might face problems.
"It will be simpler tomorrow because it is less long than today," he said. "I think we still have a lead of around 45 minutes, so we're going to carry on taking it easy. But there's no sign of relief yet. We know how it goes: something could still happen right up until you cross the finishing line."
In motorbikes, defending champion Cyril Despres closed in on his fifth Dakar title. Despres leads KTM teammate Francisco Lopez of Chile by 8:15 in the overall, and is 14:14 up on another KTM rider Ruben Faria of Portugal.
"Since I ate quite a bit of dust in the morning, I preferred to make sure and take it easy," Despres said. "As for celebrating, we still have 220 kilometres to the bivouac today (Friday) and with 690 kilometres tomorrow, it's not going to be a walk in the park."
Lopez won Friday's stage, with Despres 5:25 behind.
Cars - Stage
1. Robby Gordon (USA/Hummer) 3hr 40min 53sec
2. Guerlain Chicherit (FRA/SMG) at 22
3. Orlando Terranova (ARG/BMW) 4:41
4. Giniel De Villiers (RSA/Toyota) 8:08
5. Leonid Novitskiy (RUS/Mini) 8:35
6. Lucio Alvarez (ARG/Toyota) 11:01
7. Carlos Sousa (POR/Great Wall) 12:45
8. Ronan Chabot (FRA/SMG) 13:05
9. Stephane Peterhansel (FRA/Mini) 13:51
10. Zhou Yong (CHN/Great Wall) 20:19.
Cars - Overall
1. Stephane Peterhansel (FRA/Mini) 36hr 44min 46sec
2. Giniel De Villiers (RSA/Toyota) at 44:38
3. Leonid Novitskiy (RUS/Mini) 1 h 29:31
4. Nani Roma (ESP/Mini) 1 h 40:26
5. Orlando Terranova (ARG/BMW) 1 h 52:40
6. Carlos Sousa (POR/Great Wall) 2 h 38:40
7. Ronan Chabot (FRA/SMG) 3 h 02:25
8. Guerlain Chicherit (FRA/SMG) 3 h 29:22
9. Pascal Thomasse (FRA/Buggy Md Rallye) 4 h 31:49
10. Boris Garafulic (CHI/Mini) 4 h 45:58.
Bikes - Stage
1. Francisco Lopez (CHI/KTM) 3hr 44min 54sec
2. Cyril Despres (FRA/KTM) at 5:25
3. Paulo Goncalves (POR/Husqvarna) 5:29
4. Juan Pedrero Garcia (ESP/KTM) 7:42
5. Joan Barreda Bort (ESP/Husqvarna) 8:24
6. Helder Rodrigues (POR/Honda) 9:37
7. Ivan Jakes (SVK/KTM) 9:54
8. Olivier Pain (FRA/Yamaha) 10:10
9. Jakub Przygonski (POL/KTM) 11:02
10. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP/Honda) 11:19.
19. Riaan Van Niekerk (RSA) KTM 00:21:57
29. Bret Cummings (RSA) Honda 00:33:27
70. Darryl Curtis (RSA) 01:21:44
Bikes - Overall
1. Cyril Despres (FRA/KTM) 41hr 37min 18sec
2. Francisco Lopez (CHI/KTM) at 8:15
3. Ruben Faria (POR/KTM) 14:41
4. Ivan Jakes (SVK/KTM) 24:45
5. Juan Pedrero Garcia (ESP/KTM) 43:31
6. Olivier Pain (FRA/Yamaha) 1h 08:14
7. Helder Rodrigues (POR/Honda) 1 h 14:56
8. Javier Pizzolito (ARG/Honda) 1 h 26:23
9. Frans Verhoeven (NED/Yamaha) 1 h 27:54
10. Paulo Goncalves (POR/Husqvarna) 1 h 29:46.
13. Riaan Van Niekerk (RSA)KTM 01:58:16
30. Darryl Curtis (RSA) KTM 05:51:12
43. Bret Cummings (RSA) Honda 08:25:24