Mechanical troubles sunk the hopes of Honda today, handing a likely 1-2 win to KTM, their 13 consecutive victory in the Dakar Rally.
The spectacular dunes of Copiapo set a dramatic backdrop for a day of high drama.
Honda rider Joan Barreda Bort suffered electrical problems on his Honda from the 265km mark and finished the 350km stage on foot almost two-and-a-half hours adrift.
Marc Coma now has an unassailable lead of almost two hours over his water carrier Jordi Viladoms despite copping a 15-minute penalty for changing his engine yesterday.
However, Yamaha is breathing down his neck with Olivier Pain just 3:45 minutes behind, followed by stage 12 winner and five-time rally champ Cyril Despres. With only the penultimate stage tomorrow to make up ground, it will be an interesting fight for the final two podium spots.
The Aussies continue to strengthen with the finish in sight.
Allan Roberts rode into bivouac in 32nd position with Shane Diener just eight seconds behind and Troy O’Connor just five positions and under three minutes back.
In outright positions, they are close together with Troy in 36th, Roberts 38th and Diener 39th.
The car category drama deepens after Mini team orders seem to have been thrown out the window. Stephane Peterhansel now leads from Nani Roma who got stuck on the dunes today and refused to pass Peterhansel when he caught up to him.
It will be interesting to see if the two former motorcycle competitors choose to ignore team orders to the end.