Teamwork was on the agenda for the Red Bull KTM Factory team in Stage 12 of the Dakar 2013 when overall leader Cyril Despres worked with teammate and support rider Ruben Faria of Portugal to help him gain some overall time on KTM rival Chaleco Lopez, now racing on his home territory of Chile.
The tactics worked well and at the end of the stage Despres and Faria had secured 1-2 in the overall standings with just two stages to go to Saturday’s finish line in Santiago, Chile. Faria trailed Despres by 5 minutes 39 in the overall standings when riders arrived at the finish in Copiapo but more importantly, the Portuguese rider had gained around three minutes advantage on Lopez.
Despres said the first part of the stage was very fast and then riders entered the big dunes of the Atacama Desert where good navigation was decisive. “I didn’t want to open the track today so I let the others go,” Despres said. “It was also important for me today to try and help Ruben. He’s been helping me now as support rider in all the Dakar Rallies since 2012 so today I decided to help him to try and stay in second place overall. I think he did well and I’m happy for us.”
Stage 12 went to Dutch rider Frans Verhoeven with Faria n second just one minute 38 behind. Next fastest KTM factory rider was Jakub Przgonski of the Factory B Team in sixth place just over four minute behind. He too held off Lopez who finished seventh. KTM factory rider Joan Pedrero finished twelfth and Despres coasted in in fourteenth place. The team’s American rider Kurt Caselli put in another strong ride to finish 13.26 behind the leader and despite a heavy penalty of 3 hours 20 for missed checkpoints and waypoint in Stage 8 is still in a creditable twenty-fifth place in his first ever Dakar.
Friday is the penultimate stage of the 2013 edition as riders head for Santiago and travel from Copiapo south along the Pacific Coast to La Serena in a 735 km ride of which there is another long timed special of 441 km.
Image courtesy KTM