That didn't take long: Just seven stages into his Dakar Rally career, Red Bull KTM's Kurt Caselli won his first stage today, the Californian winning the high-speed stage seven that took the field from Calama to Salta in Argentina. Caselli's stage win in his his debut Dakar also moved him into the top 10 in the overall standings in eighth.
Caselli beat fellow KTM man Francisco Lopez, the Chilean who has won three stages in this year's rally ending up one minute and 23 seconds behind Caselli. Yamaha's Olivier Pain, the overall leader after seven stages, finished third on the same time as Lopez. That means the Frenchman leads Lopez by six minutes and six seconds in the overall standings.
Red Bull KTM's Cyril Despres, the defending race champion and four-time winner of the Dakar Rally, lost some 13 minutes in today's stage and drops to fifth in the overall standings - 27 minutes and 46 seconds behind Pain.
Fourth in the overalls standings is now held by Despres' Red Bull KTM teammate Ruben Faria, the Portuguese rider ending up fifth in today's stage seven.
Caselli's win today bumped him up four spots in the overall standings from 12th to eighth. He now trails fifth-placed Despres by some 13 minutes, but is only seven minutes from sixth placed Jakub Przygonski.