After half-a-day's rest and a no-timed route to Ayoun El Atrous, it was back to racing for the 140 motorcyclists still taking part in the Dakar Rally. And today’s Stage 12 saw several of the top men struggle with navigation, thus allowing the pack to close up with several new faces finishing at the front.
In the end the stage win went to Isidre Esteve, the Gauloises KTM rider winning his second stage of the rally and the eight of his career.
Second today went to Paulo Goncalves, the Portuguese Honda rider ending up just over three minutes behind in his best effort to date. Poland’s Jacek Czachor finished third in the stage, ahead of South African privateer Tom Classen, who was a surprise fourth on the day.
Despite the struggles from the top men, the overall rankings only changed slightly. Cyril Despres, 13th today, gained slightly on the overall leader, Repsol KTM’s Marc Coma, 16th today, but Coma still leads by more than 50 minutes.
Gauloises KTM’s David Casteu, meanwhile, stretched his advantage over Red Bull KTM’s Chris Blais in their battle for the final podium spot. The Frenchman beat the American by almost six minutes today and is now more than 30 minutes ahead of him. Castau was eighth and Blais was 19th in today’s stage.
The three other Americans, Casey McCoy, Steve Laroza and Chris Jones, are 33rd, 95th and 98th overall after the first 12 stages of the Dakar Rally.