Wrapping up two weeks of racing, the 2013 Dakar Rally concluded this weekend in Santiago, Chile. His fifth Dakar win, Cyril Despres once again claimed victory in the iconic rally race, and though he was tipped heavily to win after Marc Coma announced that he would be sidelined due to injury, Despres’s win was anything but a sure-thing as the stages progressed. Seeing strong rides from factory-backed Yamaha and Husqvarna teams, Despres even got pressure from his fellow KTM riders over the 14 racing stages.
Despite finishing the Dakar Rally with a 10 minute 43 second overall lead, Despres found himself on the wrong-side of the time sheets during several stages, and even had to replace his motor during the “marathon” weekend, where riders are not allowed any mechanical help from their support crew (Despres got more than a little help from his fellow KTM teammates though). His second Dakar Rally win in a row, and his fifth career-win, Despres now sports two-more Dakar victories than rival Coma — deficit that surely will be contested next year.
“I went for it, with all the surprises a Dakar can throw at you,” said Despres. “Little navigational mistakes, perhaps fewer than the others, taking care of my motorcycle and being in a good team. In the end, I’ve got a good reason to be very happy. The day when winning the Dakar becomes easy, it won’t be interesting any more. And this day is still far!”
“It’s too long, it’s too tough, it’s too hot. It’s too cold. You’ve got to get up early in the morning. You’ve got to find your way out of the maze of dunes in Peru and Chile. You’ve got to tackle the stones and cactuses on the courses near Córdoba. It’s just too tricky for it to be easy to win. And it’s even better when you win a difficult race. I’m always focused on what I have to do. We’re up against a grueling element, the desert. Then there are the stones, the Andes… and we experience them. It’s as real as it gets.”
For KTM, the 2013 Dakar Rally continued a tradition of dominance, with the Austrian company fielding all five of the Top 5 motorcycles in the overall standings. However, Yamaha, Honda, and Husqvarna all showed increasingly strong Dakar programs, which could spice things up in the coming years. A new entry to the Dakar Rally this year, HRC’s presence has been a welcomed site in the rally race, and though the team showed growing pains, the Japanese manufacturer cannot be underrated for future events.
Top 25 Overall Motorcycles from the 2013 Dakar Rally:
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Source: KTM & Dakar; Photos: © 2013 Maragni M. / KTM Images – All Rights Reserved