French rider Cyril Despres claimed his second career Dakar win, with a 34-minute lead over his nearest competitor, teammate David Casteu.
Frenchman Cyril Despres claimed victory in the 2007 Dakar Rally. The KTM Gauloises rider finished the 15th and final stage of the mammoth endurance race 34 minutes ahead of his fellow countryman David Casteu and 52 minutes ahead of third-place rider, American Chris Blais.
There has been much adversity for the competitors during this year’s rally. The one-time overall leader, Marc Coma, was forced to withdraw from competition in the latter stages due to a head injury. Nothing, however, matches the tragic deaths of racers Elmer Symons and Eric Aubijoux. The final stage began with a minute of silence out of respect for the fallen riders.
For Despres this year’s Dakar victory is the second of his career, complimenting his first win in 2005. The KTM rider’s greatest competition in the closing stages came from teammate Casteau, whose second-place finish now has him chomping at the bit for the overall win.
Chris Blais improved on last year’s effort by finding the final podium spot. Although 52 minutes behind the leader, Blais’ podium finish is a confidence booster for the American, who now has the top rostrum spot on the radar in the years to come.
Janis Vinters was the fastest rider during the final stage, which was so short that there were no changes in the top overall rankings. The Latvian rider finished sixth overall.
Cyril Despres (KTM Gauloises) – 1st OA
I had hoped for so long that this last day would have such a great flavor. I might have been the only one to believe in it after the trouble I had had in the beginning of the rally and this is probably what I am most proud of. If I had a book to write everything that happened during the rally, I think I could write 100 pages or more. I had misfortunes; I had luck too. it was a crazy Dakar. The toughest moments in the rally were the last 30 km of the Tambacounda stage: I knew Marc had fallen but I didn’t know how he was. There is respect between us. I think that 8 months ago, when I had the ski accident and I got out of the avalanche, I would never have thought I would be able to focus sitting on a bike for more than 5 minutes. When I see what I managed to do, i.e. being able to pilot the bike at such high level for so long, it’s a real victory for me.
David Casteu (KTM Gauloises) – 2nd OA
I had a bit of scare yesterday. I could repair my gas pipe and refuel thanks to the privateers. Fortunately as well the start of the special stage was delayed by 30 minutes. So I ended up having to attack not to loose too much ground on Blais. Attacking in this stage was not at all on my agenda! But this is what the Dakar is all about; there is always something going on and you can never take things for granted. I came here to fight and I’m second, it’s fantastic! In my life as a pro pilot, it’s a great day. Now I’ll analyze it all and think about what next. Winning the Dakar is obviously one of my aims now.
American Chris Blais earned the final spot on the 2007 podium and is setting his sights on the top position in the Dakars to come.
Chris Blais (Red Bull KTM) – 3rd OA
It all seems surreal. I think it will actually hit me when I’m back home in the US. I had to keep going, there had to be an American on the podium. What matters the most in the Dakar is to remain steady. It paid off for me. I felt much better than in my previous Dakars. Cyril Despres has again proven that he is the best because he is clever in the race. My aim now is to win the Dakar one day and today I know I can.
Pal Anders Ullevalseter (KTM) – 4th OA
I’m great! This Dakar was hard for me. I had a big crash in Morocco which made me loose a lot of time. That’s why I’m so happy to be in the top 5 at Lac Rose. It was my goal when I started but it got quickly tricky. Cyril (Despres) is really the best but I’m still sad for Marc Coma.
Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha) – 5th OA
My aim was to be in the top 5 and to win at least one stage. I am 5th in the overall rankings and I won two stages. I am very happy. We worked well together. The team was better and so was the bike. I was unable to give priority to preparing the Dakar because of my endurance season. But next year, I’ll change priorities and dedicate more time to preparing the Dakar.
Final Dakar Standings:
1. Despres (FRA) KTM 51:36:53 00:00:00
2. Casteau (FRA) KTM 52:11:12 00:34:19
3. Blais (USA) KTM 52:28:59 00:52:06
4. Ullevalseter (NOR) KTM 53:14:50 01:37:57
5. Rodrigues (POR) Yamaha 54:07:34 02:30:41
6. Vinters (LAT) KTM 54:21:14 02:44:21 03:00
7. Marchini (FRA) Yamaha 54:37:20 03:00:27
8. Bethys (FRA) Honda 55:03:26 03:26:33 03:00
9. Katrinak (SLQ) KTM 55:17:03 03:40:10 10:00
10. Czachor (POL) KTM 56:00:57 04:24:04
For more information and live tracking, visit www.dakar.com.
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