Cyril Despres has officially been crowned the King of Dakar for the fourth time after upsetting his rival, Marc Coma, in the final stages.
The 34th edition of the Dakar Rally came to a close Sunday with KTM’s Cyril Despres winning his fourth title ahead of his rival, Marc Coma. The final stage from Pisco to Lima was won by Norway’s Pal Anders Ullevalseter, who set the fastest time a minute ahead of Coma during the last 29 kilometer special. Meanwhile Yamaha’s Helder Rodrigues wrapped up the 2012 rally with the final podium spot after finishing the raid with a cumulative effort of 44:39:28 ahead of Spaniard Jordi Viladoms.
“Today we won and it’s simply fantastic,” said Despres. “This is without a shadow of a doubt the toughest Dakar I’ve ever raced in. It was difficult physically, but even more psychologically.”
During the short jaunt to the finish line Despres led during the start ahead of Coma and Rodrigues. While the rest of the field was allowed to set off in pairs, the top-10 riders were forced to go it alone through the final tracks and dunes outside of Lima, Peru. The final section proved uneventful for Coma and Despres, who finished close to two and a half minutes from each other at the end of the day. The overall timesheets recorded Despres finishing more than 53 minutes ahead of Coma, who was actually leading the rally up until the penultimate stage.
“I finished second in what was a difficult rally,” Coma said. “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.”
Out of the 14 stages of racing, Rodrigues finished all but three inside the top-10 to claim third overall. The Portuguese rider was in a tense standoff with fellow countryman Paulo Goncalves, but a 15-minute penalty in Stage 9 wrecked Goncalves’ chance to take the fight to the finish. The rally also ended on a strong note for Viladoms, who led a late surge in the contest to finish less than half an hour behind Rodrigues. Despite lacking official team support and only in his second Dakar ever, 29-year-old Slovakian Stefan Svitko came in fifth overall less than two hours from Despres and only seven minutes behind Viladoms. Other close finishes inside the top-10 included Ullevalseter and KTM’s Gerard Farres Guell, with Ullevalseter nabbing sixth less than
Marc Coma: “The objective was to win, but if you analyze the results, you can see that finishing second, with five stage victories and, above all, the race we did as a whole, I think we can be very happy.”
three minutes ahead.
Since losing premier rider Francisco Lopez after the seventh stage, Aprilia’s Alain Duclos had to overcome major electric problems and logistical issues with just one engine to cross the finish line for his team. Though the Frenchman was more than 17 hours off the pace of the leader, his perseverance enabled him to finish a rally which ended with 97 motorcycle competitors.
“Another Dakar is over,” said Duclos. “I am glad I crossed the finish line and of course, I expected a better result. The Dakar is always a great life experience and a passionate adventure. And I am also glad to have discovered another country that gives us a warm welcome. Tomorrow I will start thinking about the Dakar 2013.”
Cyril Despres (FRA – KTM) 10th, 1st OA
“I always pay attention to detail. I like doing my homework and, in my job, when things go OK you end up winning! Today we won and it’s simply fantastic. This is without a shadow of a doubt the toughest Dakar I’ve ever raced in. It was difficult physically, but even more psychologically. Challenging yourself every morning and fighting on the course takes its toll on your mind. It’s not like a 42-kilometre marathon; here, you have to earn your place every morning. 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. Today will leave its mark on me. There’s only one Stéphane Peterhansel in the world. I don’t know if I’m good at driving cars, I’ve never tried. What I do know is that he’s got a good co-pilot, Jean-Paul Cotteret, and I’ve got a good teammate, Ruben Faria.”
Marc Coma (ESP – KTM) 2nd, 2nd OA
“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.”
Helder Rodrigues (PRT – Yamaha) 8th, 3rd OA
“Making it to the end of a Dakar is always terrific. So finishing on the podium is simply incredible. There are two great riders, Marc and Cyril, and they’re tough nuts to crack. I lost 20 minutes in stage 4 and 20 more two days later. I was 40 minutes back, so I knew catching up with them would be hard. Winning the Dakar requires perfect preparation all year round and making sure everything goes well during the race. I’ll try and find the solution to be as good as they are. I need a bit more of everything, especially money to build a strong structure.”
2012 Dakar Rally Stage 14 Results:
1. Pal Anders Ullevalseter, NOR (KTM) 00:22:26
2. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 00:23:34
3. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 00:24:09
4. Gerard Farres Guell, SPA (KTM) 00:24:27
5. Alessandro Botturi, ITA (KTM) 00:24:37
6. Olivier Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 00:25:21
7. Jordi Viladoms, ESP (KTM) 00:26:01
8. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Yamaha) 00:26:07
9. Joan Barreda Bort, ESP (Husqvarna) 00:26:10
10. Cyril Despres, FRA (KTM) 00:26:17
2012 Dakar Rally Overall Standings:
1. Cyril Despres, FRA (KTM) 43:01:54
2. Marc Coma, ESP (KTM) 44:21:31
3. Helder Rodrigues, PRT (Yamaha) 44:39:28
4. Jordi Viladoms, ESP (KTM) 45:09:07
5. Stefan Svitko, SVK (KTM) 45:15:39
6. Pal Anders Ullevalseter, NOR (KTM) 45:40:07
7. Gerard Farres Guell, SPA (KTM) 45:42:33
8. Alessandro Botturi, ITA (KTM) 46:27:15
9. Olivier Pain, FRA (Yamaha) 46:46:01
10. Felipe Zanol, BRA (KTM) 46:54:07