Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah pulled to within three minutes of overall leader Carlos Sainz by finishing second on today’s thirteenth and penultimate stage of the Dakar Rally.
Sainz was the first car to start the 368km stage between San Rafael and Santa Rosa, but was second fastest behind his rival at the first of the day’s control points after 51km. From there on the pair were never more than a few minutes apart, with the Spaniard’s lead extending and contracting throughout the day.
But while the VW pair (or trio if you include third place Mark Miller, who started the day 28 minutes adrift) battled for the overall lead, it was BMW at the head of the stage. Stephane Peterhansel, fourth overall two hours behind, took the stage lead by usurping Al-Attiyah and putting a 41 second gap between them.
Peterhansel kept the stage lead, with Al-Attiyah behind him finishing 1:21 behind the Frenchman. Peterhansel’s BMW stablemate Guerlain Chicherit was third fastest ahead of Sainz and Miller, the American taking the top-five that his countryman Robby Gordon had seemed destined for, before he and his two-wheel drive Hummer fell to eighth fastest on the stage in the final 40km.
Peterhansels’s stage win moved him back level with Vladimir Chagin for the overall record number of career stage victories (56), the Russian truck racer finishing the stage second today 1:50 behind his Kamaz teammate Firdaus Kabirov who won the 33rd stage of his career.
Al-Attiyah’s finish saw him pick up another 2:32 on Sainz, reducing his overall deficit to just 2:48 with only the final, largely flat, fast 202km stage remaining before the rally finishes in the Argentinean capital Buenos Aires on Sunday.
Norwegian Pal Anders Ullevalseter won the bike stage to take his first daily triumph of the year. The KTM rider led at all bar one of the timing points, when Cyril Despres bettered him by 19 seconds after 265km.
The win saw the green-clad veteran finish 5:35 ahead of Francisco Lopez Contardo to retake second overall by a margin of just over four minutes. However, he made no impression of Despres’ commanding overall lead. The Frenchman finishing the stage second fastest only 43 seconds adrift.
Marc Coma finished the stage third fastest while Alain Duclos maintained his form as best amateur by finishing the day fifth fastest and moving back to just three seconds outside the overall top five and David Fretigne who finished the stage eleventh.
In the quad category Christophe Declerck took his second stage win in succession, and his third this year. He was nearly six minutes faster than his nearest rival, Rafal Sonik, who is also chasing Declerck for fourth overall.
The Patronelli brothers, who have doubtless been the class of the quad ranks this year, were an abnormally pedestrian fifth and sixth fastest on stage, overall leader Marcos adding another five minutes to his margin over his elder sibling Alejandro.
Behind them in the overall standings remains Juan Manuel Gonzalez, despite losing nearly an hour on yesterday’s stage alone.
Stage Thirteen Results:
1. Pal Anders Ullevalseter (KTM) 3h27:05
2. Cyril Despres (KTM) +0h00:43
3. Marc Coma (KTM) +0h02:46
4. Francisco Lopez Contardo (Aprilia) +0h05:35
5. Alain Duclos (KTM) +0h06:24
1. Stephane Peterhansel (BMW) 2h58:25
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (VW) +0h01:21
3. Guerlain Chicherit (BMW) +0h03:45
4. Carlos Sainz (VW) +0h03:53
5. Mark Miller (VW) +0h07:29
1. Christophe Declerck (Polaris) 4h11:32
2. Rafal Sonik (Yamaha) +0h05:56
3. Sebastian Halpern (Yamaha) +0h27:14
4. Juan Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha) +0h32:02
5. Marcos Patronelli (Yamaha) +0h36:16
1. Firdaus Kabirov (Kamaz) 3h38:47
2. Vladimir Chagin (Kamaz) +0h01:50
3. Martin Macik (Liaz) +0h23:06
4. Marcel Van Vliet (Ginaf) +0h23:09
5. Teruhito Sugawara (Hino) +0h55:36
Overall Standings After Stage Thirteen:
1. Cyril Despres (KTM) 49h38:44
2. Pal Anders Ullevalseter (KTM) +1h04:12
3. Francisco Lopez Contardo (Aprilia) +1h08:34
4. Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha) +1h20:41
5. David Fretigne (Yamaha) +1h56:06
1. Carlos Sainz (VW) 45h49:42
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (VW) +0h02:48
3. Mark Miller (VW) +0h31:48
4. Stephane Peterhansel (BMW) +2h16:49
5. Guerlain Chicherit (BMW) +4h02:42
1. Marcos Patronelli (Yamaha) 62h13:52
2. Alejandro Patronelli (Yamaha) +2h23:33
3. Juan Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha) +5h08:11
4. Christophe Declerck (Polaris) +6h01:18
5. Rafal Sonik (Yamaha) +6h08:49
1. Vladimir Chagin (Kamaz) 53h20:29
2. Firdaus Kabirov (Kamaz) +1h11:53
3. Marcel Van Vliet (Ginaf) +10h37:19
4. Martin Macik (Liaz) +12h21:43
5. Wulfert Van Ginkel (Ginaf) +15h29:54