3rd January 2011
The third stage of the Dakar is composed by an endless heat and Chaleco Lopez and his Aprilia are 8th of the day and 4th overall. Duclos was 5th and waits for a time penalty due to a navigation mistake.
SAN JUAN - A true burning Dakar: two continued days with over 40° Celsius and this time at the motor racing track of San Juan with hellish temperatures. Today's stage was hard, mountain tracks that reached 3000 meters in the Andes Mountains. Many stones, river crossing and Trial driving style was required in order to complete it. It was a very harsh special, with some difficult navigation points.
Francisco Lopez arrived to the bivouac exhausted. Chaleco managed to conclude this massacre stage without big problems. Just a fall in which he damaged the cowl against a rock and some difficulties in the "Trial" part.
At the end of the 270 km of special stage, the Aprilia rider obtained the 8th best time, 18 minutes behind stage winner Cyril Despres, who also profited from Marc Coma's navigation mistake to take the overall lead.
Chaleco is now 4th overall, 17 minutes from Despres and 7 from Marc Coma, while he has only some seconds of difference with David Casteu.
But what matters in a Dakar announced to be very demanding, is that the duo Chaleco/Aprilia must keep a good pace to arrive to Chile, where Lopez will improve his performance. Until now, the Team Giofil Aprilia Racing's rider is showing his character and strength only eight month from the accident in Tunisia.
Meanwhile, the situation for Alain Duclos is uncertain. The French-Malian rider obtained the 5th time of the stage and takes the 6th position overall, but it seems he would be a missing a WPM (Way Point Masque, hidden way point), so he is waiting tonight for the eventual time penalty that might be applied.
Tomorrow's stage, the fourth stage of Dakar 2012, is also announced as a terrible day, mostly because the heat will not go down. There will be 388 km of road connection and a timed section of 326 km, a total of 714 km and another altitude passage at 3200 meters.
Francisco Lopez: "Today's stage was very hard not only because of the heat but also because of the stones. We made 20 kilometers in a river with enormous rocks; it was "trial only". But what counts is to have completed a stage like this. Day after day, we look forward to arrive to Chile in a good position."
Alain Duclos: "I'm mad. The stage was fine but I missed a way point that was impossible to find! It was tricky. Now we will see what happens..."