There was a new winner in the 12th stage of the Dakar Rally and it was Dutchman Frans Verhoeven, riding a Yamaha.
Verhoeven left the start line 12th and rode hard, quickly catching up to the lead riders and getting by them for the win with a time of 3:49.15. It was his first stage win of the 2013 Dakar and the fourth of his career.
Rally leader Cyril Despres saw his lead whittled away from more than 13 minutes to 5 min. 39 sec. but it seems he did so deliberately. The day’s special stage required a fair amount of navigation and Despres decided to follow rather than lead.
“I didn’t want to open the track today so I let them go,” said Despres in a post-stage interview. He also hung back to help his team mate, Ruben Faria.
“He’s been helping me for the Dakar [in] 2010, 2011, 2012 and also 2013,” he said, “so today I decided to help him try to stay in second place.”
His efforts allowed Faria finish the stage in second position 1 min. 38 sec. behind the leader. Followed by Husky-mounted Spaniard, Joan Barreda Bort. Depres settled for the 14th spot.
The sole Canadian, Patrick Beaulé, took his KTM across the line in 63rd position and he currently holds down the 64th position overall.
Today’s stage will take riders from Copiapó to La Serena. It’s a long stage, totalling 735 km, with a 90 km opening liaison, then a 441 km special stage and then a final 204 km liaison to the end.
Here’s a video wrap up of yesterday’s stage.