Safety concerns unfortunately ruled out any racing for the bike and quad riders on the second marathon stage of the 2018 Dakar Rally.
The cars and trucks got stuck into the route though and a classic duel developed between two race legends in Nasser Al-Attiyah and Stéphane Peterhansel.
Tomorrow (Friday) is the penultimate day of racing with the remaining competitors finally reaching the end destination of Córdoba. Stage 13 is the last major opportunity to win back a major chunk of time, so expect fireworks.
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With the number of stages left decreasing every day time is running out for Stéphane Peterhansel and Nasser Al-Attiyah, and they know it.
The two former winners caught up with Bernhard ten Brinke and then fought it out for the stage victory. The lead changed hands numerous times but it was the Qatari who prevailed despite two flat tyres for a third stage win of 2018.
Race leader Carlos Sainz took the sensible approach of driving cautiously to the finish and letting the battle commence in front of him. The Spaniard got stuck in third gear and lost 18 minutes, but still holds a 44-minute overall lead.
Al-Attiyah said: “We tried to push to at least save third place overall. I am quite happy to finish with another win, it feels good.”
Bike & Quad
Due to weather concerns along the route, Dakar Rally organisers took the decision to cancel the 375km marathon stage for the riders in the bike and quad categories.
Competitors will make their way to San Juan and begin racing again on Friday with Matthias Walkner in the bikes, and Ignacio Casale in the quads protecting comfortable leads.
A statement from ASO read: “Following a study of the safety conditions for the bikes and quads race tomorrow, despite a first modification of the stage announced this afternoon, having consulted the competitors grouped at the marathon bivouac in Fiambala, the Race Direction has taken the decision to cancel the 12th special stage for bikes and quads.”
Walkner said: “My starting position for tomorrow is not so bad. It looks like it will be another really hard day with lots of off-piste. I’ll try to do my best and we’ll see what happens.”
After 47 hours of racing on some of the toughest motorsport terrain in the world, just ONE SECOND separates the top two drivers in the overall standings.
Eduard Nikolaev in the Kamaz Master finished third on the day, 1 minute 8 seconds ahead of Iveco rival Federico Villagra, to retake the overall lead from the Argentine by a single second with two stages remaining. Ton van Genugten won the stage.
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