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.”



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

  • paulus – Thailand

    Awesome… respect to all the riders in this event.

  • Phil Deetlefs

    Unbelievable debut Kurt! Great to watch you ride in any discipline!

  • He only won the stage because everybody else got lost and went the wrong way. It’s amazing that in the age of GPS location and satellite navigation, how many times these guys get lost. Seems like if one guy goes the wrong way then the other guys just follow his tracks. Shouldn’t there be some kind of flashing arrow or alert to tell you that you’re going in the wrong direction, built into their systems?

  • He only won because everyone else got lost and went the wrong way? If everyone else got lost and went the wrong way, then clearly staying on course must have been pretty damn difficult.

  • Tiago

    Aaron, they only use the GPS to see a few waypoints, they don’t follow a track with the GPS, they have to use a roadbook, that makes things much more dificult… That’s why sometimes they get lost…

  • Bruce

    Great job Kurt.

    Aaron’s comments are remarkably ignorant.

  • Aaron, take a read through the Dakar rulebook someday. There are many restrictions on GPS usage; navigation is nearly as much of a challenge as riding. This isn’t using google maps to navigate through Atlanta interstate spaghetti, it’s following a barely marked ‘course’ through South America.

    Congrats to Caselii, 2 stage wins out of 11 is a huge debut for any Dakar rookie.

  • “He only won the ” …

    And how many arguments over world championships have started with those 4 words? It never ceases to amaze me that some dismiss the accomplishments of one due to the apparent failings of others. He WON the stage. ‘Nuff said.

  • Waypoints? The last time I heard that word was playing an 80s video game. So the organizers of this “race” force riders and drivers to rely on decades-old rules and technology, why? This is not a real rally race with a marked course, this is a Baja race over open terrain under some of the harshest conditions on earth. These South American courses are far more severe than those in Africa. That’s not hard enough? Let’s throw in a scavenger hunt for waypoints to shake things up.

    It’s not challenging enough to just let the drivers and motorcycle riders deal with the terrain, they are forced to play navigation games while they’re trying to survive. The four-wheel vehicle drivers have co-drivers at least, but the cyclists and four-wheel riders, have to what, stop and make calculations about where they are, because you sure as hell can’t read some screen going 40 mph over rough terrain.

    And for the record, the DAKAR rally doesn’t exist anymore, the name has been appropriated for marketing reasons in order to keep the sponsors and fans interested. It’s on another continent for God sakes, and why is that? Everyone who pays attention to world politics knows the answer to that. If Robbie Gordon tried to run this race in Africa in that big red Hummer, he’d need several squads of Marines in ArVs following him, to make sure he didn’t get killed or kidnapped.

    North Africa is totally out of control, much of it now under the sway of Al Qaeda, who kill US ambassadors and seize gas refineries at will. I suppose that’s what you get when you wage pointless wars in Islamic countries around the world. Hundreds of thousands slaughtered in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraqi tends to generate a lot of bad feeling, We also have a significant military presence throughout Africa. So the DAKAR won’t be returning to that continent anytime soon.

    Also for the record, Al Qaeda was a marginal organization, almost entirely funded by Saudi money, with maybe 20 million supporters worldwide when George W. Bush took office. Now it has over 300 million supporters, money comes in from all over the world, huge amounts secretly funneled from the richest places on earth, like Malaysia, their influence and actual physical control of territory has grown exponentially in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. That’s what America and the West gets for putting a corporate owned imbecile in the White House in 2000.

    No country on earth is more adept at manufacturing her own enemies than the United States – Iran, Iraqi, Afghanistan and now Pakistan (one of the most populous countries on earth) all of the entrenched US opposition and popular hatred in these nations came about as a direct result of our own actions. One might conclude that America was in the business of creating enemies to fight, if one had the ability to read history and think for oneself.

    But hey, the race must go on right. But to be fair and accurate, I think they should change the name to the Patagonian off the road Rally, to better reflect the nature of the race, the continent it now calls home, and the native inhabitants who agree to host it. And modern GPS navigation should be standard for everyone, so that it really is a race, and not just a test of riders navigation abilities, or lack thereof. Perhaps it would also cut down on the number of needless deaths that no doubt have a direct correlation to competitors getting lost and the general disorganization that ensues as a result.

    A race is about who’s faster over a given stretch of ground, when the team that wins is not about the best rider, mechanics and support people, but the person who’s best at memorizing maps, well I’d say you’ve lost sight of what racing is really all about.

    Let’s just hope the US military doesn’t start slaughtering people in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia, otherwise where will we move the DAKAR then? Canada Maybe? :-)

    PS, you guys are so damn easy. LOL