Cyril Despres Stage 13 Dakar 2012 Cyril on Stage 13 of the 2012 Dakar ©Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Cyril Despres looks to have secured his fourth Dakar Rally title after opening up an 11-minute lead over Marc Coma with one stage of the race remaining.

I’m not the kind of person who derives pleasure from the problems of my team-mates and even less when it’s Marc (Coma) who is in trouble. I was surprised when I realised that I had clawed back five minutes on Marc when I saw him at the refuelling point on the stage. Marc opened the road today but when I saw him at the refuelling station I saw he had dust on his face so I knew some other biker had managed to pass him already.

It was a tough stage today and I got lost a couple of times but it never became a big problem. I was able to get back on the right track every time I lost my way a little bit.

'I will stay calm tonight and then enjoy the victory if it comes tomorrow'

I was making sure I took no risks on the stage and managed to stay focused on just riding at my own rhythm and racing my own race. Because of the small margin in the times at the top of the leaderboard plus these tough stages in Peru it was obvious today was going to be tough. I was prepared for a real psychological test today.

Whenever I find myself needing a little something extra out on a stage I always remember a good friend of mine. He unfortunately died in an avalanche when we were together in the mountains and whenever I win a race now I feel like I do it for the both of us. When I need to really focus I remember some great advice he gave me for staying mentally tough. I visit his kids when I go to Paris and they always cheer for me at the Dakar.

Tomorrow’s stage is very short but I’ll not be taking any chances on the way into Lima. I always wait until the official end of the race before taking the chance to enjoy the results. I have been at this race so many times and seen so much happen that I know things aren’t over until they are really over. I will stay calm tonight and then enjoy the victory if it comes tomorrow.

Keep tabs on Cyril’s race on Red Bull’s dedicated desert classic website.

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