PH2: Despres takes Dakar (just)

French off-road legend and all-round hard man, Cyril Despres, took his fourth Dakar Rally title at the weekend after a race-long battle with KTM team mate Marc Coma.

Having covered a total of over 5,000 miles split into 14 stages containing a mixture of road, tracks and sand dunes, Despres was just 53 minutes and 20 seconds ahead of Coma after the Spaniard suffered a gearbox failure on the eve of the last round, robbing him of 45 minutes and the spectators of an epic final stage.

"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," said Despres.

"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."

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  • konrad565 16 Jan 2012

    I wonder if Coma's gearbox would have held up better if he hadn't been pushing so hard after Despres was given 15mins back after the 'mudgate' incident. At the end of the day it's the Dakar things happen which the riders/drivers can't control, just a thought.

  • loomx 16 Jan 2012

    Any reason there is no news article on who won the car section of the Dakar rally, other than the fact that MINI came 1st, 2nd and 4th.

  • Numeric 16 Jan 2012

    All I know is that I look at a lot of things and think - oh I could have done that (if I was a bit younger of course). I look at this and think not, no, never - I'd be found sobbing at the end of the first mile. These guys and the lads who do TTs etc. make me realise I'm as soppy as a poodle!! Hats off to them!

  • marshall100 16 Jan 2012

    I consider myself to be quite fit and it doesn't take me that long to recover from doing an enduro on my quad (3 hours) but this is something else. 5000 miles in the saddle, or even in a car, or god forbid a quad and I'd be a quivering wreck after ten minutes.

    There should be extreme challenges like this, I'd just prefer it if they could hold the event a bit closer to home. Not sure there's enough open land left in the uk though....

  • _Neal_ 16 Jan 2012

    I'll try again - here's "mudgate"

    It's not winning if you win like that.

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