The bikes were the first to leave the Fiambala bivouac this morning at 04:15 am, opening the road that climbs up to 4,700 metres crossing the Andes Mountains from east to west. Passing the San Francisco Pass, the Dakar marathon returns to the Atacama Desert in Chile where the 12th stage of the 2013 Dakar took place.
It was another technical and demanding stage with the major section of big dunes right in the middle of the special, with some difficult rocky and stony tracks at the beginning and at the end of the stage. Helder Rodrigues finished in the top 5, only 3’35” behind stage winner Frans Verhoeven, Pizzolito worked as a good team mate throughout the stage gaining the 9th position, while Johnny Campbell gave another brave performance, getting to the finish in 45th place, despite the pain and the altitude sickness.
Helder Rodrigues, SS12 5th +3’35”, 8th overall: “When we passed the San Francisco Pass this morning it was freezing, I think the temperatures were below zero. What a difference from the heat of the Atacama desert! I enjoyed today's stage as navigation was important as well as being fast. At the beginning there were many rocks with a lot of dust and fech fech and then the challenging dunes of the Atacama desert. Today everything went well, the bike worked well and I finished 5th but, unfortunately yesterday I lost the possibility of fighting for a place on the podium. It’s a pity, now I’m 8th overall but I will continue to push and try to get the best possible result for Team HRC”.
Javier Pizzolito, SS12 9th +5’22”, 9th overall: “Navigation was important in this stage and I particularly enjoyed the big dunes of the Atacama desert, famous because they're very difficult to climb. Today it was a very demanding stage for the body and the machine due to the altitude when we crossed the Pass but also because it was very tiring to face the special after 392 km of liaison. Today our team work was excellent, once I caught Helder, I followed him and we did the special together. I'm now sitting in the top 10 overall and I intend to continue to push and try to improve my final result”.
Johnny Campbell 45th +50’53”, 44th overall: “It was freezing this morning. When I stopped to change gloves I felt dizzy then when we started the descent I felt kind of sleepy because of the altitude sickness. I started the stage feeling weak. Fortunately the pain was less intense, but I rode conservatively as there was no reason to push. I stopped to help Marc Guasch, who had crashed hitting a rock and then I continued at a nice pace to have fun with the bike and the terrain. It’s a pity that I’m not fit to push but I prefer to ride more conservatively aiming to bring the bike to Santiago”.
SS12 Unofficial results: 1. Verhoeven (Yamaha), 2. Faria (KTM) +1’38”, 3.Barreda (Husqvarna) +3’01, 4. Duclos (sherco) +3’17, 5. Rodrigues Team HRC (Honda) +03’35”..9. Javier Pizzolito Team HRC (Honda) +5’22”, 45. Johnny Campbell Team HRC (Honda) +50’53”
Overall Standing 1.Despres (KTM), 2.Faria (KTM) +5’39”, 3.Lopez (KTM) +13’40, 4 Jakes (KTM) +20’15”, 5. Pedrero (KTM) +41'14”…8. Rodrigues Team HRC (Honda) +1h10’44”, 9. Javier Pizzolito Team HRC (Honda) +1h19’20, 44. Johnny Campbell Team HRC (Honda) +7h37’21”.