Truck racer Vladimir Chagin took his 56th career Dakar stage win on today’s 12th stage.
The win was the Russian’s ninth win of this year’s event as he extended his lead over Kamaz teammate Firdaus Kabirov to one hour and 13 minutes.
It was another one-two-three result for the manufacturer, with Ilgizar Mardeev finishing third ahead of the pair of drivers who have consistently been amongst the best non-Kamaz drivers this year: Matric Macik in a Liaz and Marcel Van Vliet in a Ginaf.
Chagin’s stage victory moved him one ahead of Stephane Peterhansel, driving a BMW in this year’s car category, who finished fourth on today’s 476 kilometer stage (which was shortened to 470 kilometers by the time the cars finished due to the sheer number of spectators at the intended finish, and even then included a 130 kilometer "neutralisation" period when cars were not timed).
Instead, it was Carlos Sainz who took the stage win, as the Spaniard sought to repair some of the damage done to his overall lead by his problems yesterday. Unfortunately, while the double World Rally champion took the stage win, it only added 52 seconds to his overall lead. His nearest challenger, VW teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah bounced back up to second-fastest at the end of the stage, despite being over four minutes adrift at 204 kilometer, before the neutralised section.
There were more problems for Guerlain Chicherit who, after winning yesterday’s stage, suffered another set back, damaging his BMW’s right-front suspension and losing over 90 minutes to Sainz. The Frenchman, however, held onto his fifth position overall, though he is now more than four hours behind, and a relatively slender nine minutes ahead of Carlos Sousa, sixth overall in the best of the JMB Stradale Mitsubishi Racing Lancers.
The bikes saw the order change even before the first riders had begun today’s stage, with several riders having their times altered for the better by stewards after incorrect route markers sent them the wrong way. That saw Frans Verhoeven’s stage win erased and instead handed to Marc Coma who started the stage ahead of David Fretigne.
On stage it was another day, when the battle for second, third, and fourth took centre stage. KTM rider Pal Anders Ullevalseter, who was pegged back to equal second with Lopez Contardo by the overnight changes, led much of the stage, with the Chilean, and his other rival, Helder Rodrigues, in close attendance.
However, in the closing kilometres the Norwegian fell behind, finishing third behind Lopez Contardo’s Aprilia and Fretigne, while Marc Coma finished fourth-fastest.
Cyril Despres was missing from timing screens for much of the day. Rumours of troubles for the Frenchman circulated in the vacuum of information. In reality, he had only fallen to eighth-fastest today, some 17 minutes adrift of the lead pace, though still over an hour in front of the Aprilia, newly ensconced in second overall.
The quad class, now sadly heading for an anti-climatic end, after seeming to promise a close race early on, was won by Christophe Declerck, who re-passed Rafal Sonik in the overall standings.
The Polaris rider finished ahead of the Patronelli brothers, Alejandro leading Marcos home today, while opposite is true in the overall standings. Marcos’ lead still holds at over two hours with Declerck now in third, Juan Manuel Gonzalez not having officially finished the stage yet.
Stage Twelve Results
1. Francisco Lopez Contardo (Aprilia) 3h48:34
2. David Fretigne (Yamaha) +0h00:40
3. Pal Anders Ullevalseter (KTM) +0h01:13
4. Marc Coma (KTM) +0h03:08
5. Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha) +0h06:59
1. Carlos Sainz (VW) 3h30:29
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (VW) +0h00:52
3. Mark Miller (VW) +0h04:22
4. Stephane Peterhansel (BMW) +0h10:49
5. Robby Gordon (Hummer) +0h10:56
1. Christophe Declerck (Polaris) 4h52:22
2. Alejandro Patronelli (Yamaha) +0h01:29
3. Marcos Patronelli (Yamaha) +0h06:00
4. Rafal Sonik (Yamaha) +0h09:20
5. Sebastian Halpern (Yamaha) +0h20:32
1. Vladimir Chagin (Kamaz) 4h27:14
2. Firdaus Kabirov (Kamaz) +0h01:20
3. Ilgizar Mardeev (Kamaz) +0h19:40
4. Martin Macik (Liaz) +0h52:04
5. Marcel Van Vliet (Ginaf) +0h54:58
Overall Standings After Stage Twelve
1. Cyril Despres (KTM) 46h10:56
2. Francisco Lopez Contardo (Aprilia) +1h03:42
3. Pal Anders Ullevalseter (KTM) +1h04:55
4. Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha) +1h13:16
5. David Fretigne (Yamaha) +1h40:12
1. Carlos Sainz (VW) 42h47:24
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (VW) +0h05:20
3. Mark Miller (VW) +0h28:12
4. Stephane Peterhansel (BMW) +2h20:42
5. Guerlain Chicherit (BMW) +4h02:50
1. Marcos Patronelli (Yamaha) 57h26:04
2. Alejandro Patronelli (Yamaha) +2h18:34
3. Christophe Declerck (Polaris) +6h37:34
4. Rafal Sonik (Yamaha) +6h39:09
5. Sebastian Halpern (Yamaha) +9h27:12
1. Vladimir Chagin (Kamaz) 49h39:52
2. Firdaus Kabirov (Kamaz) +1h13:43
3. Marcel Van Vliet (Ginaf) +10h16:00
4. Martin Macik (Liaz) +12h00:27
5. Wulfert Van Ginkel (Ginaf) +14h18:30