The duel has been declared
Francisco Lopez obtained the forth position of the stage and takes the second place in the standings. Alain Duclos made it ninth.
SAN RAFAEL - Today the Dakar 2012 started to become serious. Yesterday stage was just a brief warm-up, kind of a long prime, but today it was a true special stage, with a 285 kilometers of special stage. The first part of it was fast, before arriving to the gray dunes of Nihuil, product of the high volcanic activity of the past in this region.
And Chaleco Lopez was the rider in charge of opening the road of this first real stage of the Dakar after yesterday's victory. The Chilean was not intimidated by the fact of not having a guide in front and completed the timed section with the fourth best time, behind Marc Coma, Cyril Despres and Joan Barreda. It seems that Lopez decided to take part of the duel that animated the last two editions of the South American Dakar. The difference with the previous years is that Team Giofil Aprilia Racing has taken off strong from the beginning, with the motivation of not losing too much time before the race arrives to Chile, his home country.
Chaleco takes the fourth position 2'44" after Coma, but he keeps his second position overall, while the third place is for the French Cyril Despres, 22" behind the Chilean.
The stage was also optimal for Alain Duclos. The French-Malian rider found a great feeling riding his new Aprilia RXV 4.5, which he had been riding since the last days only. During the 285 km of the special, he took over many experienced riders such us Goncalves, Viladoms, Pain, Svitko and even Enduro's World Champion Johnny Aubert. The rider made it ninth to San Rafael. With this result, Duclos take the 11th position overall.
On his side, Arnaud Besnier already closed his Dakar adventure after a luxation of the shoulder. The French rider was carried to the bivouac by the medical staff, while Edouard Boulanger finished the stage 56th.
Tomorrow, the Dakar will go north, towards San Juan. The program of the day includes a total of 561 kilometers, of which 270 compose the special stage.
Francisco Lopez: "A stage with no problem, very fast in the first part. I felt well, my Aprilia is really fast, and the team has made a great work on the engine. Only at the dunes Marc got me and I took some risks. Then I decided to let go. I know I'm at 85% of my top physical condition, and I prefer to go stage by stage, with no particular goal. For now, things are running great."
Alain Duclos: "I had so much fun today: I was fast in the sinuous part of the track. My Aprilia worked fantastically and also I went full gas on the dunes. For me, this is a new bike so I am learning its secrets day after day, but I can feel it has a very powerful engine. Today I overtook many riders, and that gives me an enormous satisfaction. I am among the first fifteen, and that was my goal for these first stages."