Meet Stage 12 winner and new overall leader Stephane Peterhansel!
Author: Craig Perronne Photos: Courtesy of ASO
Okay just when the Dakar had seemed to become boring and predictable with team orders being handed down in the MINI camp yesterday, things were turned completely upside down today when Stephane Peterhansel claimed a stage win and put himself in the overall lead! Many in the bivouac are wondering just what the heck is going on and all kinds of rumors and theories are flying around.
This was the bizarre scene as Nani Roma opted to follow Peterhansel through the dunes instead of passing him for the lead.
Some think that Stephane has decided to go rogue and disobey team orders. After all, the rumor is that this is his last year with the team so he wouldn’t have much to lose. However, adding even more of a twist to the tale (and taking away from that theory) is that Stephane stopped to help a stuck Nani Roma today in the dunes and Roma waved him on. When Roma eventually caught up to Stephane, he moved aside for Roma to pass but Roma declined! Instead he followed him through most of the dunes only passing Peterhansel 500 meters before the finish. The overtake was not enough though giving Peterhansel the stage win, Nasser Al-Attiyah second and Nani coming in third five minutes and fifty-eight seconds behind Peterhansel. With the stage win, Peterhansel now has a 26 second overall lead.
Nani and Stephane are actually good friends and even share the same motorhome in the massive Monster Energy X-raid MINI pit. Perhaps the two had a long discussion last night and came to some sort of “gentleman’s agreement” outside of the team orders. More than likely though it is merely racing and hard to time everything perfectly without radios and knowing split times of the other racers.
Peterhansel shared his take on the day. “We started in fourth position. I don't know what happened, but the speed was not very good for the guys in front. Nasser started behind me and after one hundred kilometers he was close to me, so I stopped and he passed and just afterwards we overtook Nani. I think he had a puncture because he was going really slow. At the end I stopped on the dunes to show him that if he wanted to he could go past, but he didn't want to open the way on the dunes. So I opened on the dunes and finished very calmly.”
Nani seemed fairly content at the end of the stage stating, “My day was not a special one. I had a puncture after 20 km and after I tried to stay calm. Nasser passed me, I followed him but then he made a mistake with the direction so I followed my direction. Stéphane passed me on one dune so I followed him to the end. The gap is small, but I'm still here and I'm happy.”
In the last blow to Team America, Robby Gordon was not able to make the start of today’s special. Initial reports of some sort of fueling issue turned out to be false and the culprit seemed to be some kind of air filtration problem. The crew worked through the night eventually fixing the problem, but Gordon would have to run the majority of Stage 11 and then showed up for the start of today’s stage. In the end he simply ran out of time in what has been one of the worst Dakar’s for Gordon.
The truck battle for the overall is also tight with Gerard De Rooy only seven minutes and thirty seconds behind the big Kamaz. With only 97 miles of special tomorrow, De Rooy will have to go flat out to beat the Kamaz.
So basically nobody knows what will happen tomorrow. Will Stephane go flat out and try to take the win? Will he try to follow orders like he did today, but have Nani follow him instead? With only 26 seconds between them, the Dakar can easily go to either Nani or Stephane, but the question is which one will it be? Nobody seems to know and we can’t wait to find out. Only 97 miles of special stage remain in the 2014 Dakar!
Kamaz occupy first and third overall with the Iveco of De Rooy sandwiched between them.
Joan Barreda had an absolutely disastrous stage aboard his Honda, allowing Jordi Viladoms to slip into second overall. With Marc Coma firmly in the lead, KTM should pick up the top two spots on the podium.
Stage 12 Results 1 300 PETERHANSEL (FRA) MINI 03:38:19 - 2 301 AL-ATTIYAH (QAT) MINI 03:41:57 00:03:38 3 304 ROMA (ESP) MINI 03:44:17 00:05:58 4 302 DE VILLIERS (ZAF)TOYOTA 03:49:07 00:10:48 5 309 HOLOWCZYC (POL) MINI 03:56:25 00:18:06 6.312 CHABOT (FRA) SMG 03:56:43 00:18:24 - 7.317 GARAFULIC (CHL) MINI 04:03:45 00:25:26 - 8.308 ALVAREZ (ARG) FORD 04:04:34 00:26:15 - 10. 307 TERRANOVA (ARG) MINI 04:08:09 00:29:50 -