KTM's Pals Anders Ullevalseter won the first special stage victory of his career today, the Norwegian taking a giant step toward wrapping up second overall in the Dakar Rally with the event set to come to a close tomorrow.
"A fantastic stage for me," Ullevalseter said in a team release. "I started third and after 40km I was in the lead. Today was a route for big bikes. We could really attack and in the last hours I was riding at more than 160km/h. It's perfect!"
Ullevalseter beat overall leader Cyril Despres to the finish by 43 seconds, the Red Bull KTM-mounted Frenchman set to cruise to victory in tomorrow's stage as he leads the Norwegian by an hour and four minutes.
Despres was two minutes and 46 seconds ahead of Red Bull KTM's Marc Coma, the defending champion now 15th in the overall standings.
"There was only a small section of sandy tracks and about 20 km of sand dunes," Despres said. "It's always a pleasure to ride that. The sand dunes have different colors and different shapes and the there are bushes here and there. It was cool when the liaison section started then it started to heat up. It's much easier to stay focused when you drive a bit fast. I trust my KTM and my tires. I knew I would drive fast and it would be fine."
Ullevalseter's pace today puts him four minutes and 22 seconds ahead of the man he's battling with for second place in the overall standings, Francisco Lopez Contardo. Lopez Contardo and his Aprilia ended up fourth in today's stage.
American Jonah Street, meanwhile, was eighth today and he remains in seventh overall, well behind sixth but well ahead of seventh with just tomorrow's stage 14 remaining.
Today's stage took the field from San Rafael to Santa Rosa in Argentina, which included the 228-mile timed stage.