Cyril Despres took his fourth Dakar rally championship yesterday, while teammate Marc Coma finished second.
Both KTM riders were neck-and-neck through the whole race, but Despres had built up a respectable 11-minute lead going into Day 14, partly due to transmission problems with Coma’s 450 Rally. Coma changed engines before the start of the final day, getting a 45-minute penalty that ended his chances of taking the lead from Despres.
Despite Coma’s problems, the race is another testament to KTM’s domination at Dakar; of the top 10 riders, eight rode KTMs through this year’s 5,500 mile circuit through Argentina, Chile, and Peru. This is the 11th Dakar rally in a row that KTM motorcycles have won, and the seventh rally in a row that either Coma or Despres has won.
For now, Yamaha is KTM’s closest competition at Dakar; third-place finisher Helder Rodrigues and ninth-place Olivier Pain rode Yamahas.
Husqvarna teamed up with the Speedbrain rally team in an attempt to unseat KTM, but didn’t quite have the results they hoped for; the team’s highest-placed rider was 11th-place Joan Barreda, after Paulo Goncalves received a massive penalty for supposedly receiving unauthorized outside assistance. Some look at Barreda as the man of the future at Dakar; they figure he’s the only guy who can take down Coma and Despres, and he certainly had some success this year, despite his finish out of the top 10.
CANUCKS IN CARS
Canadian participation in this year’s Dakar rally was scarce, but there was a pair of Montrealers who not only took part in the race, they finished a remarkable 40th place of the 173 competitors entered in the car class.
Vice president of Aldo Group, David Bensadoun, drove a BMW-powered Desert Warrior 4×4, accompanied by enduro racer and KTM Canada after-sales coordinator Patrick Beaulé, who performed navigation duties.
With a goal of simply being the first Canadians to finish the Dakar in a car (“If we’re last I’ll drink a whole bottle of champagne”—Bensadoun), the pair must be stunned by their final result. Bottoms up!
See below for the Stage 14 video summary, as well as a video showing the best of the motorcycle series.
Dakar 2012 top five finalists
1. Cyril Despres (KTM)
2. Marc Coma (KTM)
3. Hélder Rodrigues (Yamaha)
4. Jordi Viladoms (KTM)
5. Stefan Svitko (KTM)