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It is a special thing to win a stage at the Dakar Rally, and multiple stage victories are a true accomplishment in a racer’s career. We could leave the accolades there for Kurt Caselli, but taking two stage wins, during his rookie debut at the famous rally race, now that is something truly noteworthy. Filling the very big shoes left behind by the injured Marc Coma, Caselli has proven to be a diamond in the rough for the factory KTM team, which can only bode well for the California natives return to The Dakar in the coming years.

Winning the Baja-like terrain of Stage 11 with a 4:45 margin, Caselli helped lead the way for fellow bannerman Cyril Despres to regain the outright lead of The Dakar, while Despres’ teammate Ruben Faria also consolidated KTM’s 1-2 standings in the overall time slots, 13:16 behind Despres.

Still ranked well below the other factory KTM riders, Caselli’s position moves to 29th, a figure weighed heavily by his navigational errors in Stage 8, which saw him miss several waypoint and checkpoints.

With eleven stages now completed, the 2013 Dakar Rally will head back into Chile tomorrow with the 12th stage, meaning only three stages of racing remain. A Top 10 finish may be a large challenge for Caselli, but it is undeniable that the American has made a strong first impression at his debut Dakar.

“Caselli did an amazing job today and we were all impressed, including Cyril,” said KTM Team Manager Alex Doringer. “Cyril was able to use Caselli’s speed to ride with him for his third place in today’s stage and to consolidate his overall lead. Now we head for the Atacama Desert and this is an area we know from earlier Dakar Rallies. Cyril is feeling good and looking forward to getting into the dunes again.”

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Top 10 Motorcycle Standings from Stage 11 of the 2013 Dakar Rally:

Pos. Name Country Bike Time Diff. Penalty
1 CASELLI USA KTM 02:55:01
2 GONÇALVES PRT HUSQVARNA 02:59:46 00:04:45
3 DESPRES FRA KTM 03:01:25 00:06:24
4 PEDRERO ESP KTM 03:05:19 00:10:18
5 LOPEZ CHL KTM 03:05:52 00:10:51
6 BARREDA BORT ESP HUSQVARNA 03:06:10 00:11:09
7 BOTTURI ITA HUSQVARNA 03:06:32 00:11:31
8 JAKES SVK KTM 03:06:37 00:11:36
9 DUCLOS FRA SHERCO 03:07:22 00:12:21
10 FARIA PRT KTM 03:13:04 00:18:03

Source: KTM & Dakar; Photos: © 2013 Maragni M. / KTM Images – All Rights Reserved