18 January 2010
Despres celebrates Dakar victory.
Frenchman Cyril Despres has won the 2010 Argentina-Chile Dakar Rally.
After covering 9000 km, Despres rode in triumph into Buenos Aires to claim his third Dakar victory and the tenth consecutive victory for KTM.
Despres, who previously tasted Dakar victory in 2005 and 2007 when the rally was staged across Africa, completed the final stage in a comfortable eighth place to finish one hour 2 minutes and 52 seconds clear of nearest rival Pal Ullevalseter.
"All victories are nice but this one is particularly beautiful," said Despres. "It is the victory of hard work, of expertise and of an incredible team. There are nine of us in the team and not one of us ever let go. We all wanted to win; we all wanted to fight hard and we won. It's just fantastic. Of course there is a lot of emotion.
"I am human," continued an emotional Despres. "I know I have been riding this bike for 15 days and I am exhausted but the little strength I had left just went in tears. KTM played a big part in this victory. They trusted us. We chose everyone. We have been working 24/7 for months.
“One thing is clear; I was not afraid of losing. I just wanted to win. And this will to win was stronger than the fear of losing. It was a tough Dakar, a beautiful Dakar and I am so glad I won."
Norwegian Ullevalseter was happy to claim a career best second place at the end of his eighth Dakar rally. The KTM rider also won his first stage.
"To finish second in the standings is more than I expected. I had dreamed of it and there it is,” he said. “On this Dakar, I only had good times. No problems, no crash. The bike worked well. I may not be the fastest rider but I am experienced. I know how to navigate, I know the technique and I am much more relaxed. With my first stage victory yesterday, I have lived so many things in two days. It's great times. The party is on for weeks to come now. I've been training for this moment for 25 years!"
Third place went to Yamaha rider Helder Rodrigues of Portugal, who finished one hour and eight minutes from Despres.
Meanwhile 2009 winner Marc Coma, Despres' eternal rival in the KTM camp, finally finished in 15th place after penalties and problems put him out of contention.
Nevertheless, Coma had four stage wins to his credit and, penalties aside, his actual riding time was remarkable close to that of Despres.
Both Despres and Coma had to ride with air restrictors on their KTM 690 rally machines, to reduce the performance down to the level of a 450cc bike, the new standard for racing the Dakar.
2010 Dakar Rally - Final Standings after Stage 14:
1. Cyril Despres, Andorra, KTM
2. Pal Ullevalseter, Norway, KTM
3. Francisco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia
4. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha
5. David Fretigne, France, Yamaha
15. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM
Click on relevant pic to enlarge
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