KTM support rider Ruben Faria was the man of the hour. The Frenchman took the Stage 14 victory, his first of the 2010 Dakar Rally.
Out of the original 151 bikes and 25 quads to begin the Dakar quest 15 days ago, only about half remained to start the final special of Stage 14. Despite the exhaustion of racing for more than 5,153 miles, each rider lined up at 9:00 a.m. with a renewed determination.
One such rider was KTM’s Ruben Faria. The Portuguese pilot started down in 10th this morning and by Check Point 1, had posted the best provisional time with fellow countryman Helder Rodrigues 1:53 behind on the smaller Yamaha. Yesterday’s stage winner, Pal Anders Ullevalseter, crossed the check point with a small 45-second gap back to Alain Duclos.
Riding like a man possessed, Faria still had the lead as the riders reached CP2. The KTM pilot had opened a 3:43 gap back to Ullevalseter with Rodrigues three seconds shy of the two big KTMs. As the first competitors reached the end of the timed section, Faria’s window was relatively the same.
Fellow Yamaha rider David Fretigne, whose 450cc machine was outgunned in the flat areas, managed to retain his fifth-place position overall despite finishing fifth behind his main contender, Duclos. Duclos may have taken the top-five spot had he not suffered tire problems which caused him to finish 21 seconds shy of the coveted position.
The overall leader since Stage 3 and the winner of two stages, Cyril Despres grabbed the sixth fastest time. The KTM ace finished 17 seconds ahead of Olivier Pain and 21 seconds in front of Marc Coma.
Despres has reclaimed his Dakar crown after losing it last year to Coma. This is the third time the Frenchman has earned the title and the first since the rally was moved to South America. Ullevalseter takes a career-best runner-up finish despite early concerns that his restricted 690 might suffer against the 450 machines. The Norweigian’s main contender, Francisco Lopez Contardo, decided to play the final stage cautiously on the Aprilia and take the last podium spot.
American Jonah Street was 6:35 off the pace of the front runners. He took 12th in the stage, but remained in seventh-overall. Fellow American Ludovic Boinnard also made a last ditch effort for the finish. The KTM rider grabbed 23rd in the stage, his best of the raid, and finished inside the top-40.
Cyril Despres (FRA – KTM) 6th, 1st OA
“All victories are nice but this one is particularly beautiful. It is the victory of hard work, of expertise and of an incredible team. There are 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. We left Lac Rose three years ago in 2007. Since then we have had three tough years, three years of injuries, training, hard times. We can only be moved by this third victory. I am still human; 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.”
Pal Anders Ullevalseter fought a fierce battle for second and held onto it all the way to the end, earning his ninth second-place finish in the Dakar Rally.
Pal-Anders Ullevalseter (NOR – KTM) 2nd, 2nd OA
“I remembered this stage last year and my mind was focused on the rear wheel and the rear tire. I was careful at the start not passing 150 km/h. Then after 100 km, I started riding at full speed. I wanted to finish. I took my chance and wow it’s great. Chaleco Lopez was four minutes behind in the standings but today he was starting minutes behind me. So I had no idea where he was, no control over him. It was a very long stage for me. 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 problem, no crash. The bike worked well. I may not be the fastest rider but I am experienced. It is my eighth Dakar. I know how to navigate, I know the technique and I am much more relaxed as well. It’s important. With my first stage victory yesterday, I have lived so many things in two days. It’s great times. The party is on for weeks to come now. I’ve been training for this moment for 25 years.”
Francisco Lopez (CHL – Apr) 10th, 3rd OA
“As a rider of course I am very happy about this Dakar edition. I worked all year to get a good result. In this edition, there were a lot of very experienced riders like Marc (Coma) or David (Casteu). But we know the race; it leaves people by the side of the road. Others have mechanical problems: t
he tires or the chain as was the case for me. A Dakar raid is all of that at the same time. It’s the sum of many things. In the end there are three riders on the podium and I am one of them! We fought hard with Pal (Anders Ullevalseter). Then I decided to leave it thinking that third place was not bad at all. Of course, being second is even better but trying to win a place and lose the podium all together, no way! So yesterday night we decided to play it safe with the bike, the tires… The podium is a victory for my family, my friends, all the Chileans who supported me. I would like to thank my family. One day I told them: “I don’t want to study. I want to ride bikes” and they said: “Go for it! It’s your passion!” And here I am on a Dakar podium. I have achievements. I have a career! I will tell you what I think at the bottom of my heart: I took a great decision committing with Aprilia. Everyone was telling me I would never finish a Dakar on a brand new bike. With only three months preparation, I rank third! But it must be said that the team was great. The Chileans and the Italians got along really well. Next year, I am sure we will have an even better bike.”
Ruben Faria (PRT – KTM) 1st, 11th OA
“I am very happy. I did the Dakar to help Cyril Despres, so he would win. Last night, we were laughing and I told him that I was one minute shy of ranking 11th and he told me: “Tomorrow, drive faster; try to get this 11th place”. So I did. And I won the stage. I am thrilled. And I am so happy that Cyril has won the Dakar. This stage is a gift to me from Cyril but the goal was always that he would win the Dakar.”
2010 Dakar Rally Stage 14 Results:
1. FARIA (PRT) KTM 01:26:48
2. ULLEVALSETER (NOR) KTM 01:30:33 00:03:45
3. RODRIGUES (PRT) YAMAHA 01:30:45 00:03:57
4. DUCLOS (FRA) KTM 01:31:22 00:04:34
5. FRETIGNE (FRA) YAMAHA 01:31:43 00:04:55
6. DESPRES (FRA) KTM 01:31:53 00:05:05
7. PAIN (FRA) YAMAHA 01:32:10 00:05:22
8. COMA (ESP) KTM 01:32:14 00:05:22
9. KNUIMAN (NLD) KTM 01:32:58 00:06:10
10. LOPEZ CONTARDO (CHL) APRILIA 01:33:07 00:06:19
2010 Dakar Rally Final Overall Standings:
1. DESPRES (FRA) KTM 51:10:37
2. ULLEVALSETER (NOR) KTM 52:13:29 01:02:52
3. LOPEZ CONTARDO (CHL) APRILIA 52:20:25 01:09:48
4. RODRIGUES (PRT) YAMAHA) 52:30:10 01:19:33
5. FRETIGNE (FRA) YAMAHA 53:06:33 01:55:56
6. DUCLOS (FRA) KTM 53:09:12 01:58:35
7. STREET (USA) KTM 54:00:20 02:49:43
8. PRZYGONSKI (POL) KTM 54:26:36 03:15:59
9. PAIN (FRA) YAMAHA 54:38:57 03:28:20
10. PEDRERO GARCIA (ESP) KTM 54:44:25 03:33:48
Check out the highlight video of the final stage, courtesy of Dakar.com