Falls by both leading contenders was the highlight of the 11th stage of the Dakar Rally today.
Three-time titleholder Marc Coma (KTM) fell early, but did no damage or injury and won the gruelling 605km dunes stage to strengthen his overall lead. Joan Barreda Bort (Honda) was not so lucky, falling heavily and damaging his navigation system so he had to continue by sight. He is still seconds, but more than 50 minutes behind.
Five-time winner Cyril Despres (Yamaha) stormed home in second to be just 43 seconds behind fifth-placed Helder Rodrigues (Honda) and just 24 minutes off a podium. That’s astonishing given his one-hour penalty and bad luck early in the rally.
Aussie Shane Diener continues to improve in the latter stages of the rally with his best finish yet. The Yamaha rider arrived at the bivouac in 20th position to jump eight places to 38th.
KTM riders Troy O’Connor and Allan Roberts came in just two seconds in 37th and 38th. They are now in 35th and 37th place.
Despite the car category looking like an exciting duel to the finish, it has been controversially marred by Mini team orders to freeze the current positions with Nani Roma first, followed by 11-time winner Stephane Peterhansel and Nasser Al-Attiyah.