Fabrizio Meoni managed to gain 13 minutes on overall leader Richard Sainct in the motorcycle section of the Dakar Rally after a good victory in stage 13. But can he make up enough time before Sunday?

Fabrizio Meoni managed to gain 13 minutes on overall leader Richard Sainct in the motorcycle section of the Dakar Rally after a good victory in stage 13.

Stage 13 took the competitors south-east across the Egyptian deserts from Siwa to Dakhla. Dakhla is an oasis, situated in the Western Desert, on the road between Cairo and El-Kharga.

Sainct came second, at 13 min 16 sec, with KTM team-mate Cyril Despres in third a few seconds further back. Sainct now leads overall with an 11 min 2 sec advantage over Despres, with Meoni third at 16 min 44 sec.

"It was a real nice day," said Meoni. "I have really risked a lot today. But I just had to do it. The only thing left for me is to attack. Today it worked out perfectly. If it runs as smoothly tomorrow, too, there will still be hope."

Sainct though is not worried about Meoni’s attacking race in the 13th stage. "I did have a mechanical problem today. The connection cables for fuel didn't work. So I had to stop and make repairs on the cables. Therefore, I lost some time, but nothing too serious. The remaining days will not be as fast as today. I don't think Fabrizio can gain this much time every day," said Sainct.

In the car section, Stephane Peterhansel of France came fifth in the stage over 569 km and now has an overall lead of 25 min 50 sec over second-placed Hiroshi Masuoka.

Finland's Ari Vatanen, in a Nissan, won the stage, 1 min 18 sec ahead of Frenchman Luc Alphand, with South African Giniel de Villiers third, 8 min 22 sec behind. Carlos Sousa of Portugal was fourth and Masuoka came in sixth. Vatanen remains in eighth position overall and De Villiers holds on to sixth spot.

“We started off strongly today. We caught Luc Alphand shortly after the start, about 50 km, and just afterwards, we took off while going over a very fast dune. The landing was extremely violent, which totally bent my accelerator pedal, and more importantly gave me a terrible pain in the back and chest. Afterwards, I was rather worried that the bump could have had some consequences. Driving with a pedal in that condition was quite difficult, as it was not moving freely and kept jamming in the accelerating position. My back was also really hurting,” said Vatenen.

De Villiers said he would like to win a stage before the end of the race on Sunday. “We did not have any problems with the car, and no punctures today. I would like to win a stage before the end … why not? Anyway, I am doing my best and trying to get the most out of the car every day,” he said.

Leader Peterhansel said he had not pushed very hard during this stage. “It was a nice, fast stage with big mountains and huge dunes,” Peterhansel said. “But it was not the best of results for us. Yesterday we took a lot of risks, but this morning we decided to take things more slowly. I wanted to control the situation with Hiroshi. The most important thing for me was to stay with him. I don't need to keep pushing to try and win each stage. I saw Hiroshi behind me at one point, running with one of the Nissans, and then he dropped behind again,” Peterhansel said.

The 14th stage sees the racers heading east across the Egyptian deserts to the mythical city of Luxor, world-famous for its ancient archaeological treasures and sites such as the Valley of the Kings and Tombs of the Queens. After 53 km of liaison, the 274 km special stage will be contested, followed by a further 375 km of liaison before reaching the bivouac – a total distance of 702km.

The stage uses camel tracks, which were used in the days of the Pharaohs as a link to Sudan, as well as a variety of winding desert trails, including one, which passes the renowned Temple of Karnack.

Original article from Car