Dakar 2012: Starting off the New Year right

For some people bringing in the New Year consists of popping a bottle of Dom Perignon and watching the ball drop. For others it means raging at a downtown night club and not remembering a thing about it the next day. Others hit the sack early and watch the recaps in the morning. But no matter how you spend it, there is nothing more thrilling and riveting about hoping on your bike on the first day of the new year to start a race across the deserts of Argentina, Chile and Peru along side some of the most intense and famous riders in the world.


Francisco Lopez started off the race strong

Now in stage three of fourteen, the 443 contestants will travel a total of 8,300 km (5,160 miles) and many won't make it to the finish line. In the motorcycle category, Francisco Lopez started off the race strong by finishing the first stage in first on his Aprilia. However, the second stage didn't go as well and the Chilian rider dropped down to fourth place allowing Marc Coma to take over first. After taking second in the first leg, Coma is now in the lead and, having won the Dakar series in 2006, 2009 and 2011 on his KTM, the Spaniard is the favorite to win the motorcycle category this year as well.

Three time winner of the Dakar series, Coma is the favorite to win.

As of the second stage, Cyril Despres, another KTM rider hailing from France is now giving Coma a ride for his money. Having competed since 2001 in the Dakar series, Despres had a rough start this year and finished thirteen in the first stage. In the second stage, however, he was able to overtake Lopez to come in second and is hoping that this will be his year to take the Dakar championship.

Cyril Despres is gaining on Coma.

Currently in third after stage two is another Spaniard, Barreda Bort, trailing behind by 2 minutes and 33 seconds on his Husqvarna. After finishing sixth on the first day, he managed to make up enough time to also overtake Lopez and is surely hoping to continue to close the gap to first.

California native, Cody is the American to watch out for.

As for the Americans, we've got our eyes on Quinn Cody. A three time Baja 1000 winner, the California native first took on Dakar last year and finished ninth overall. Cody started strong with a fourth place finish in the first stage but dropped down to 24th in the second leg of the rally leaving him in 20th place overall. But with so much more desert to take on, the rider feels he could land himself a top five finish.

With a total of 161 motorcycle racers currently taking on the 2012 Dakar challenge, the race has just begun. Already, bikes are breaking down, riders are feeling the pain of three days of serious desert riding and anything could happen. Stay tuned for more updates as the most intense ride of 2012 rages on. For information on the other categories visit www.dakar.com. And from everyone at BikeBandit.com, good luck to all of those competing!

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