Bikes: Despres bounces back
Cyril Despres finished 3:54 ahead of rival Marc Coma in stage nine of the Dakar Rally bikes section to return to the top of the general standings.
Despres, in the process of his stage nine triumph, has now assumed a general lead of 2:28 over the Spaniard.
Coma won his 20th career stage on Monday to wrestle control away from Despres, but the Frenchman responded with a determined and unerring ride.
Despres said: “It's feeling good. After a difficult day yesterday when you start to doubt, I had to get back to winning ways. It wasn't easy to psyche myself up for it, but I'm very happy with my day's work.
“We came into this looking at a battle for seconds or minutes. It's very competitive. Like any top level sportsman, if you don't like confrontation or squeezing the last ounces of strength out of yourself, then you're not ready for a fight. But, as for me, I'm up for it.”
Coma said: “We knew that this would be a difficult race. It was long and there was plenty of navigation to deal with. We're coming to the crunch part of the rally. Cyril is a major rival and we do battle over every single kilometre.
“But I think it's interesting, it's sport. Yesterday, the KTM technicians decided it was time to change our engines because we'd reached the half-way point. It's a very good idea.”
Joan Barreda Bort rounded off the day's podium as he finished third behind the official KTM bikes and 8:28 behind Despres.
In fourth place, Portugese rider Helder Rodrigues displayed his consistency once more along with compatriot Paulo Goncalves - the pair finished 11:44 and 15:12 behind Despres, respectively.
Sixth place went to Norwegian Pal Anders Ullevalseter, who ended up 15:43 behind the Frenchman.
Meanwhile, David Casteu endured a prolonged standstill after 516km of the special after the French rider encountered an unspecified technical problem.