News 17 Jan 2010

Rally: KTM's Despres secures third Dakar Rally victory

KTM’s Cyril Despres has won his third Dakar Rally in Buenos Aires after a last stage won by his support rider Ruben Faria.

At the end of stage 14, during which his position was never really threatened, Despres got his third victory in a Dakar after winning the rally raid in 2005 and 2007. For this last stretch, that was literally a straight line, the KTM rider had a 1h04’20’’ lead on his closest contender in the standings, Pal-Anders Ullevalseter. Naturally, this fairly remote threat was easy to control for the Frenchman who just did what it took to get his bike to the finish line, still at an average speed of 133 km/h.

Winning the last stage – which is traditionally particularly coveted because of its prestige – took on a symbolic dimension today with the rise to power of Faria, who had started tenth this morning. By speeding up both to catch up with his leader and to give victory a try, Despres’ support rider first achieved best time at CP1. His ultimate stage finishes with fireworks with the best time of the day on a finish line where Despres was waiting for Faria to congratulate him warmly. The joy of the Despres team proved to be total a little later in the day when his protégé Christian Califano finished his second Dakar at the last place in the general standings.

A little further down the standings, the Dakar hierarchy could still have seen some changes. But despite all his efforts, “Chaleco” Lopez did not manage to bother Ullevalseter, ranking second in the standings and also finishing second of the stage… history repeating itself again for the eternally-second Norwegian rider! However the Chilean rider is more than happy to have completed his very first Dakar, to finish on the podium and to win the raid in the 450cc category with an Aprilia that was just starting in the raid as well. Still in the 450cc category, David Frétigné had to defend his fifth position in the standings being tailed by Alain Duclos who was just 3 short minutes behind him. The Yamaha rider only lost about 20” because – amongst other things – of the tire problems experienced by Duclos.