|SA-Dakar Rally: Cyril Despres - "I broke my rear brake on the big climb".|
On Tuesday riders headed due north in Argentina following the spine of the Andes Cordillera and opened their account with a liaison section of 291 km before they attacked the times special of 270 km.
The acute nature of the terrain where they tracked through river beds and dodged rocks and potholes in a climb that took them to a breath robbing 3000 m up in the mountains required absolute concentration and physical effort. Wednesday they continue north to the Argentinean town of Chilecito.
KTM factory rider and three-times Dakar Rally winner Cyril Despres of France turned up the heat on Tuesday to take the Stage Three victory in the world’s toughest rally and assume overall lead. In a change of fortune in the KTM factory team, Despres crossed the line 13 minutes ahead of rival and teammate Marc Coma who ran into difficulties in the final stages of the race.
The two rode neck and neck during the stage with Despres having a slight 20 seconds lead at the first way point. Coma fought back to return to the front of the pack at way point two edging ahead by 14 seconds.
Only two seconds separated the two KTM riders at the third way point after 162 km of the 270 km timed special but then four minutes later Coma, opening the road, took a wrong turn and left the the way open for Despres to go on and win the stage and dropped down the order to finish in seventh place on the day.
Even at this early stage of the 33rd edition, Despres and Coma have started to put their special stamp on the results and third placed Frenchman David Casteu sits back at 17 minutes 16 seconds behind the leader.
Despite ending the day with a handy cushion in both the stage and the overall standings, Despres said it had still been a complicated stage and he was not happy about the setback of his teammate Coma.
"It didn't start well this morning, because when I hit a hole, I ripped off a fingernail on the clutch. 60 km later, my compass repeater stopped. We reached the mountains and I wanted to keep the same pace, because I knew that Marc was riding very fast in front of me, but when we got to a stream, I must have slowed the pace when I had to check my GPS" the French told.
"To cap it all, I broke my rear brake on the big climb, so the descent was very tricky, but I made sure I was careful. I couldn't see many tire tracks over the last 50 kilometers so I wasn't sure that Marc was up ahead. In the end, I finished first and I've been told that he chose the wrong track so that's going to be to my advantage. It's good for my position, even if I'm never happy about other people's setbacks" he added.
Tuesday saw the KTM factory team’s two support riders, Joan Pedrero for Marc Coma and Rubin Faria for Cyril Despres finish 15th and 17th on a day that shook up the standing order and vaulted some new riders into the front of the field.
They are currently 11th and 15th in the overall rankings. KTM’s Dakar rookies Johnny Aubert from the KTM Enduro Factory team and Chris Birch of New Zealand who rides in Extreme Enduro events for KTM finish in 24th and 38th position. They are currently 21st and 34th in the overall standings.
2012/01/04 | 12:22 CET | ARTICLE: MR/SY/KTM