After battling with KTM teammate Marc Coma for the entire duration of the 2012 Dakar Rally, Cyril Despres bested the Catalan rider on the final stage, and claimed his fourth Dakar title. Despres won only four stages of the Rally (compared to Coma’s five stages), but the Frenchman was able to cling to his overall lead, despite finishing behind Coma on the last stage. With The Dakar concluding in Lima for the first time in history, Despres’ triumph brought KTM its eleventh consecutive Dakar win. After a critical time penalty was levied against Marc Coma, Cyril Despres won the rally with a 53 minute margin, though the racing was decidedly closer than that number implies.
Sunday’s final stage was only 23km long (14.29 miles) and largely ceremonial, with Saturday’s penultimate round truly deciding who would win the 2012 Dakar Rally. With only several minutes of time separating the two riders as they entered the last true round of racing, Coma unfortunately damaged his gearbox after a big jump. Getting lost in the process, Coma was able to nurse his KTM back through the stage, though he had a 45 minute time penalty levied upon him for swapping-in his third motor, which cost the Catalan his chance of a fourth Dakar win, and allowed Despres to coast to victory during Sunday’s final round.
“Today we won and it’s simply fantastic. This is without a shadow of a doubt the toughest Dakar I’ve ever raced in,” exclaimed Despres. “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-kilometer 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,” the Frenchman continued. “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.”
Photos of Cyril Despres 2012 Dakar Rally Win:
Source: KTM; Photos: © 2012 Maragni M. / KTM Images – All Rights Reserved