Cyril Despres won the 2012 Dakar to claim his fourth win of the torturous 9000km race. The Frenchman beat longstanding rival and factory KTM team-mate after what has been one of the closest and hard fought Dakar’s in history.
Despite being separated by as little as 21s on stage ten of the race, Despres ended up taking victory by 53m 20s after Coma incurred a 45m penalty for making a second engine change at the end of the 13 stage on Saturday.
Despres said: “All victories are beautiful, but this one is special because it came down to the wire and was decided at the last minute. This was an unimaginable scenario, with the leaders separated by mere seconds. I've done 90 or 85 rallies throughout my life, and this one was the one where I had to fight the hardest.”
Coma saw his chances of beating Despres and adding to his tally of three Dakar wins end after a costly navigational error on stage 13 and was ruled out completely after the penalty for his second engine change.
“I finished second in what was a difficult rally. I gave it my all every single day. I wish to congratulate Cyril. He's the champion. But I'm going to work hard to try and win again next year. If we keep alternating... it should be my turn! But first I have to work.”
Factory Yamaha man Helder Rodrigues backed up his position of the best of the rest after finishing third to Despres and Coma for the second year running. The 32 year old Portuguese star claimed two stage wins during the event finishing 1h 11m 17s behind Despres after 14 days of racing.
“A stage win is always great, and finishing on the overall podium is also cool. I might have been able to perform better in certain stages, but I had a few little problems and it was impossible for me to win. But today I gained some time on Cyril and Marc, I rode very fast. That is good. I may be able to do better next year. We can do it, if we work hard with our team all year round. I may take the new motorcycle. First, I will have to test it, and then we will see.”
Crescent KTM rider Stan Watt rode brilliantly to claim an impressive 34th overall after spending the entire race battling with other top privateers and factory backed riders.
Brit Tobias Younger won the hearts of the British and South American fans after finishing the arduous event on his first attempt. During the last two week, Younger has spent two nights in the desert sleeping with his bike, ridden without lights, crashed, incurred time penalties and spent hours towing his team-mate and fellow Desert Rose Racing KTM rider Jago Pickering.
He said: “It’s an amazing feeling and to actually finish it is beyond my expectations. It’s hard to take in at the moment. You go into it thinking you can finish but in a race like the Dakar there are so many variables that it really is out of your hands.”
For full insight in to the epic race see MCN out Wednesday 18th January.
Results Stage 14
1, Pal Anders Ullevalseter, Norway, KTM 22 minutes 26
2, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM 23:34
3, Stefan Svitko, Slovakia, KTM 24:09
4, Gerard Farres Guell, Spain, KTM 24:27
5, Alessandro Botturi, Italy, KTM 24:37
Overall Results after final Stage 14
1, Cyril Despres, France, KTM, 43 hours 28 minutes and 11 seconds
*Fourth Dakar Title for Despres
2, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM at 53:20
3, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha at 1:11:17
4, Jordi Viladoms, Spain, KTM at 1:40:56
5, Stefan Svitko, Slovakia, KTM 1:47:28