The Bike competition resumed and the Dakar Rally returned to normal on Thursday as the tough route through a difficult and very dusty Mali stage.

The Bike competition resumed and the Dakar Rally returned to normal on Thursday as the tough route through a difficult and very dusty Mali stage.

Andy Caldecott scored his second Dakar special stage victory on the thirteenth stage, ahead of the solitary Yamaha of David Fretigne, on what he described as a hard and dusty stage.

Chris Blais completed his best stage in the race thus far in third position. Overall Bike leader, Cyril Depres finished seventh and his team-mate and second overall, Marc Coma, finished ninth after both riders developed problems with their bikes.

South African Alfie Cox finished the stage in fourth, at the same time overtaking Isidre Esteve Pujol for third place in the overall standings.

"To race in Mali isn't very nice. There are too many people," Cox quietly said. "It wasn't a nice day, because you couldn't overtake on the very small and dusty paths. It also wasn't a good day because it was too stressful for me as for all other the riders I believe. With what happened to Fabrizio (Meoni), we hadn't any motivation for racing and even for riding.

"I wasn't good on the bike, and I think it'll take time before we attack again. With all the thoughts that came to mind during the stage, it was impossible to ride properly, and stay focused. Everybody has a strange taste in the mouth and the most important is to get to Dakar and see what should be changed for the future."

Stephane Peterhansel for Mitsubishi extended his overall Car lead on Thursday when he flew to his fourth special victory of the event. Team-mate Luc Alphand came in close second while South Africa's Giniel de Villiers, finished third in the Nissan Hardbody.

"It was a really fast stage today, especially at the beginning," commented Peterhansel. "We had to drive at 140 km/h on a laterit track. Then the road was much narrower and tricky with a lot of big rocks, before getting fast again. Still three days before the podium but the race isn't over yet. Tomorrow the stage should be difficult."

Jutta Kleinschmidt, though finishing the stage in sixth place, maintained her third position overall behind Alphand.

In the Truck race, Gerard de Rooy took his second consecutive special stage victory, leading DAF to a one-two-three finish.

"It was a good day, just a bit dusty," commented Gerard de Rooy. "However, because we started in first position this morning, we had less dust than the others. I'm first of the stage and that's the most important thing."

De Rooy finished ahead of his father, Jan de Rooy, and Belgian driver Hugo Duisters.

Defending champion, Vladimir Tchaguine finished fourth followed by Hans Bekx. Overall leader, Firdaus Kabriov was twelfth, but with a massive lead remained almost three hours ahead of overall second, Bekx.

Friday's stage of the gruelling cross-country event will take the competitors from Kayes to Tambacounda, and includes crossing the Faleme River into Senegal on the final stretch to Dakar.

Original article from Car