I agree with ya Troy except one minor point...the attrition rate. It seems to me like the bulk of the non finishers are first timers and or the guys at the back of the pack. The top thirty have a significantly lower percentage attrition rate (not fact just an observation).
Why? Better sorted likely (training, bike, team, experience, etc).
Surprising in some regards as they are traveling at faster speeds. But maybe this helps in the end., less dust, less cars passing, etc
This may, and I say may, be the first year in quite some time that people other than factory ktm have bikes that are on an equal playing field. The HRC and Husky bikes, from what we saw and heard from Maroc, might be as quick as the ktm factory bikes. If so this will likely help level the playing field. In recent years very fast and experienced riders (Jonah, Helder, etc) have quoted they just couldn't keep up on the fast pistes. You look at stage times for those specials and they are only a few seconds back. This makes me think that there are other "aliens" out there but don't have the bike to compete.
2013 has potential for an upset
Aliens getting pushed harder than in recent years maybe? Possible that mistakes could be made by the aliens as a result?