The title holder cemented his place at the top of the general standings with a second consecutive victory on the Personal Dakar Argentina Chile 2011. He leads Marc Coma by 2’35’’.
Already delighted with the performance of Ruben Faria during the afternoon, Cyril Despres learned yesterday evening that in fact he had picked up victory on stage 1, after a one minute penalty was handed out to his team-mate for breaking the speed limit. As a result, the title holder tackled the second day of the race as leader, with the responsibility of opening the road. Even the day’s task was not the most demanding in terms of navigation, Despres succeeded in achieving the hardest trick in rally-raid racing: staying out in front from start to finish, as well as opening up the gap a little on his closest rivals. On completion of the 300-km special, the Frenchman boasted the best time, winning the 25th stage in his career on the Dakar. It is only the third time that he has triumphed when opening the road.Whilst it is premature to make predictions, a traditional duel is starting to be outlined with Marc Coma, who finished 1’49 behind on the stage, trailing 2’35” in the general standings. Ruben Faria, in 3rd place, is already 6’13” behind. Furthermore, the day held revelations about the capacity of David Casteu. The Sherco rider, after a discrete first stage, was the quickest pursuer of the KTM bikes on the route to Tucuman. Trailing the leading duo by 3’46”, he climbed up to 6th position in the general standings, but remains behind Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez and Paulo Gonçalves. The battle between Aprilia, BMW and Sherco is underway and might not just be a battle for the crumbs left by KTM. However, Pal-Anders Ullevalseter, runner-up last year, will have difficulty getting involved, in light of the trouble he is having adapting to his new machine: “I miss my 690cc,” joked the Norwegian, 29th in the general standings after only two stages!
Tuesday, 4th January > Leg 3: San Miguel de Tucuman – San Salvador de Jujuy
Red and green
Bikes – Quads / Road section, 231 km Special, 521 km – Cars / Road section, 231 km Special, 500 km
Trucks / Road section, 408 km Special, 226 km
To reach Jujuy, the special stage has been split into two parts, separated by a neutralised section. On the first part, the bikers will again be racing on their own track, plunging into the desert canyons where the red of the sand and cliffs is the dominant colour. There is a striking contrast with the second timed portion: the race moves to earthen tracks and the vehicles will disappear into thick green forest. The trucks have been excused from this challenge, deemed too dangerous for the windscreens which are at the same level as tree branches.