Lack of visibility caused by thick dust and plenty of people and animals ensured a less-than-pleasurable trip for competitors as the twelfth stage of the Dakar Rally got under way after three days of rest.

Lack of visibility caused by thick dust and plenty of people and animals ensured a less-than-pleasurable trip for competitors as the twelfth stage of the Dakar Rally got under way after three days of rest.

On Tuesday, the competition started with a liaison of 85km on tarmac, a 213km Special and a final 368km liaison which led them from Bobo-Dioulasso to Bamako.

The Special followed a new path and was filled with obstacles, valleys and very fast tracks. One rider, Vaseleios Orfanos, (KTM) was injured yesterday when he fell and broke his collarbone.

In other news, Cyril Depres repeated his stage nine win with another Special victory. He held the stage victory over Marc Coma, Joan Roma and Alfie Cox.

Cox retained his third place overall and even managed to gain some time on second placed Richard Sainct.

“I am very happy with my performance today,” Cox said at the stage finish. “With quite technical navigation and high-speed racing involved, I did very well to gain on Richard Sainct,” he said. This is a good start to the second half, …a lot can still happen, but I feel strong and ready for the challenge.”

Roma remains in the overall Bike top spot, while Stephane Peterhansel held onto the overall Car lead with a somewhat comfortable gap in this year’s “much harder” race.

"The race is back and continues seriously with the two marathon stages of Thursday and Friday. We have to stay calm to make it to Dakar in the leading spot," said Peterhansel about the lead.

A disappointed Giniel de Villiers, who started 15th yesterday, described the stage as “useless” and “a day to be forgotten”. He achieved 12th place on the overall standings where the field remained dominated by the Mitsubishi’s of Peterhansel and teammate Hiroshi Masuoka.

Jean-Louis Schlesser held on to third, followed by Luc Alphand and Gregoire de Mevius fifth.

The 13th stage of the 2004 Telefónica Dakar leaves Mali for Mauritania racing between Bamako and Ayoun El Atrous. The stage starts with quite a long liaison of 230 km before a 478km special and a short, 25km liaison to the overnight bivouac; a total distance of 733km.

Original article from Car