With 12 stages down and two to go, Patrick Trahan (52nd on special no. 12, 56th overall) continues to do well on his quest to be the fourth Canadian to finish the Dakar. The long 12th stage was blisteringly hot, starting with a route over stones, rocks, and riverbeds, and difficult navigation, followed as the heat grew by hours in deep, loose sand. Again, several riders had problems with overheating engines and evaporated fuel.
Trahan said, "That (the crowds lining the course) was great, as I did not have any time to watch the road book on this stage. I found the right speed in fourth gear and kept telling myself I should continue and keep my spirits high. At the connection I had a short break in the shade of a tree. Soon people showed up to have a chat. And after today I know for sure that Argentinian women are cute!"
Chilean Francisco Lopez Contardo (Aprilia) gave the Italian constructor a third stage victory on the 32nd Dakar. More importantly, he beat Frenchman David Frétigné (Yamaha) and Norwegian Pal Anders Ullevalseter (KTM) moving him into second place, now a minute ahead of Ullevalseter and nine minutes ahead of Portugal’s Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha).
However, the leader, Frenchman Cyril Despres (KTM) is still way out in front, with a lead that now stands at 1.03:42 over Lopez.
KTM’s Marc Coma, who was fourth on Thursday in Stage 12, was handed an unexpected bonus on Thursday morning when it was announced that race stewards awarded credits to riders who were misled by incorrect markings on Wednesday’s track. The credits vaulted him into first place for stage 11, taking the day’s win away from BMW rider Frans Verhoeven.
Stage 13 is a long one, 725 km, mostly over fast, open country. Crashes will be expensive!