Red Bull KTM factory rider Kurt Caselli (USA), drafted into the Orange factory team to ride the KTM 450 Rally bike of injured teammate Marc Coma on Wednesday picked up his second stage win in his first ever Dakar. Teammates Cyril Despres and Ruben Faria consolidated their 1-2 overall positions after Stage Eleven of the Dakar 2013
The American, who also won Stage Seven and has earned himself the nickname of ‘Special K’ took advantage of the Baja-like terrain on Wednesday to attack on his KTM 450 Rally bike after rain in the area had firmed up some of the loose sand. Classified at He is now working on getting back into the top 20 after picking up more than three hours of penalties for missing checkpoints and waypoints in Stage Eight.
Despres, who is going for his fifth Dakar title had a good day in a stage that was both technical and physically challenging to finish in third, six minutes 24 behind Caselli. He now has a 13 minutes 16 seconds lead in the overall standings from Faria, his support rider or ‘water carrier’. Factory teammate Joan Pedrero was fourth in Wednesday and is sixth overall while KTM rider Chaleco Lopez was fifth in the stage and stays at third overall.
It was an unlucky day however for South African Darryl Curtis of the KTM Factory B Team who crashed with about 70 km of the timed special to go. He managed to finish the stage but had pain in his shoulder and back and was receiving medical treatment at the Bivouac, Team Manager Alex Doringer reported. All other six riders in the main factory team and the B team are in good shape.
KTM riders currently occupy the first four places in the overall standings but there are many potential traps ahead as the Dakar caravan back towards Chile and the Atacama Desert on its way to Santiago and the finish line on Saturday, January 19. By the time they reach the Chilean capital riders would have competed more than 8000 km since the start of the race in Lima on January 5, 2013. In past days they have been battling with extreme heat, which adds another layer of difficulty to the challenge.
Alex Doringer: “Caselli did an amazing job today and we were all impressed, including Cyril. Cyril was able to use Caselli’s speed to ride with him for his third place in today’s stage and to consolidate his overall lead. Now we head for the Atacama Desert and this is an area we know from earlier Dakar Rallies. Cyril is feeling good and looking forward to getting into the dunes again,” he said.
Despres, one of the most experienced riders in the field is taking everything in his stride. “The challenge is always to find the right balance between concentration and preserving yourself and your bike,” he said. “If I ride too slowly I lose concentration… But if you ride too hard on a race of this length and inevitably you risk wearing out both man and machine.”
On Thursday riders leave Fiambala in Argentina to head back across the Andres and down into the notorious Atacama desert, the driest place in the world. The stage takes them to Copiapo in Chile and they will travel for 715 km, 319 km of which are timed special.
Image courtesy KTM