News 19 Jan 2010

Rally: Despres wins KTM's 10th consecutive Dakar Rally


KTM supported rider, French born Cyril Despres on Saturday sealed victory in the 2010 Dakar Rally after more than 9000km across Argentina and Chile. He rode in triumph into Buenos Aires to complete his third Dakar victory, and the tenth consecutive victory for KTM, the Austrian-made sports motorcycles. With this ninth consecutive success, KTM remains unbeaten in the most highly regarded rally in the world.

Despres, completed the final stage, a total ride of 707km with a timed special of 206km of fast track riding, finishing the stage in a comfortable sixth place. He was five minutes 05 seconds behind the winner of the day, rather fittingly, his KTM support rider Rubin Faria of Portugal. Despres, who also won in 2005 and 2007 when the rally was staged across Africa, was one hour 02’ 52” minutes in front after completing the immense distance and endless challenging terrain, including four stages in Chile’s Atacama Desert.

An emotional Despres commented, “All victories are nice, but this one is particularly beautiful,” he said. “It is the victory of hard work, of expertise and of an incredible team.

“There were 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.”

Despres whose racing career has had its setbacks, injuries and a constant battle with his arch rival, fellow KTM rider Marc Coma of Spain, said he was genuinely moved by the victory. “I am human,” he said “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.”

Second place at Dakar went to KTM rider Pal Ullevalseter of Norway, who completed his eighth Dakar rally, and finally succeeded in winning his first stage on Friday. “To finish second in the standings is more than I expected. I had dreamed of it and there it is. On this Dakar, I only had good times. No problems, no crashes. 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. 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 Aprilia rider, Francisco Lopez. Six of the top ten finishers were KTM riders.

Marc Coma, who is Cyril Despres’ eternal rival in the KTM camp, finally finished in 15th place after penalties put him out of contention. But he still had four stage wins to his credit and, penalties aside, his actual riding time was remarkablly close to that of Despres, proof enough that the two KTM riders are in a class of their own in international rally competition. The result was all the more remarkable, because 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 2010 Dakar was yet another triumph for KTM, the Austrian manufacturer whose sports machines play such a dominant role in international off-road competition, with winning world champion Cyril Despres, the great second place of top-privateer Pal Ullevalseter, an addition 44 KTM riders who reached the finish line, and last but not least the successful service of the official KTM support truck.

KTM first won the Dakar Rally in 2001, and has been undefeated ever since. Six of those victories have come with either Cyril Despres or Marc Coma at the handlebars, and each has now won three Dakar titles.