Pensioner for 2008 Dakar

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Tackling the Dakar Rally at 65 and becoming its oldest ever competitor was never going to be easy.

But despite being forced out by freak sandstorms Scotland’s Robbie Allan is already targeting the 2008 Dakar.

The veteran star says next year he will race alongside his brother Vic, four-time British Motocross champ, after finding the race “easier than expected” in his debut.

Allan said: “The day that forced me out saw a lot of cars and trucks abandoned. 

“It was a shortened stage, but after hitting the storms the sand turned to powder and the front wheel just kept sinking right in. When I was still there at 4am, and the doctor found me, they said that was it.

“I was annoyed because aside from the freak storm it wasn’t as bad as I had thought it might be. 

“I am proud to have been running respectably when I went out, not right at the back, and I managed to be top Brit in one stage, so that is nice.

“Back home there has been a lot of interest here, and after 50 years of not seeing much of our sport in the papers in Scotland, every one has carried stuff about the rally, so that is great for everyone.”

Allan also took third in a Eurosport poll to find the Hero of the Dakar.

He added: “I’ll be back out on the bicycle training soon, and then Vic and I plan to work out exactly how to tackle it next year. 

“We will need proper funding this time, and want to make it a team we can all be proud of.”

While Allan contemplated his future Dakar, Marc Coma would have been contemplating the folly of his crash two stages from the end of the rally.

The long-time leader threw away almost certain victory crashing out of the race with two stages to go.

Spanish KTM star Coma, winner of the gruelling desert race last year, hit a tree root on Friday 57km into the stage trying to make up time on a stage after getting lost. 

He took a wrong turning 34km into the stage and rode a line parallel to the perfect route, but was unable to cut across onto the correct bearing, so had to back track.

He crashed heavily some time after, and though not knocked unconscious was “a bit spacey” afterwards, and deemed unfit to continue. There were no lasting effects to the crash.

The shock DNF of the leader and favourite promoted second-placed chasing French star Cyril Despres, who had been nearly an hour adrift at the end of the preceding day.

Despres, 32, also on a KTM 690 and winner of the 2005 Dakar, kept his cool and backed off on the final days to win comfortably from Gauloises KTM team-mate David Casteu and US star Chris Blais third on a Red Bull KTM. 

It was the firm’s seventh Dakar win in a row, with the only top non-KTM a Yamaha in fifth.

Despres said: “I can enjoy this win much more than my first Dakar win, as on 2005 my team-mate Fabrizio Meoni was killed in the race and the result didn’t really matter to me. This one is all mine.”

British interest faded as the rally went on, with all but one of our entrants failing to finish. Honda XR650-mounted Paul Broome agonisingly finished just a spot outside the top 100 – 101st scant reward for the 41-year-old’s mammoth effort on a shoestring budget and sheer guts.

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Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin