The only guy in the bivouac who seemed shocked to see Cyril Despres rise to the top of the leaderboard on day three was the Frenchman himself.
Cyril explains the pleasant surprise that was awaiting him at the end of the third stage.
It was a crazy end to a day that started pretty badly for me. I damaged my finger when putting on my heavy boots this morning and it was irritating me every time I hit the clutch.
Also causing plenty of headaches were the supposedly dry riverbeds we were driving through. In the roadbook these rivers were supposed to be dried out but there was actually quite a lot of water, running through the stage in little streams. This made navigation tough, plus my compass bearing broke halfway through the stage.
If all that wasn’t enough I ended up hitting a rock and breaking my rear disc brake. Two bolts snapped completely and left me riding the last third of the stage with no back brake. When you’re riding at 3,500m above sea level and all this is happening, it definitely helps you concentrate. That’s all I did today – concentrate on riding at my own rhythm.
“When you’re riding at 3,500m above sea level and all this is happening, it definitely helps you concentrate. That’s all I did today – concentrate on riding at my own rhythm”
I was certain I was following the tracks of Marc [Coma] in front of me and at no point did I think I’d made it past him. Only over the last 5km did I notice there were no tracks in front – not the sort of tracks that a KTM 450cc bike makes, anyway.
As I arrived at the final corner I looked behind me to see the track I was leaving behind and that was when I knew I was having a good day. My eventful day proves to me how important it is to just do your own race and not worry about what anybody else is doing.
I now have a ten-minute lead over Marc but there is still such a long way to go. A lot can change but I’m also very happy to have any lead at any stage of the Dakar.
Cyril now leads the 2012 Dakar Rally by ten minutes, with Marc Coma resting in second place.