In an event that’s probably more embarrassing than nefarious, Aprilia’s Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez was caught by the camera of a Dakar Rally spectator stealing gas from a parked motorcycle near the race course. Lopez didn’t get too far in the process as several local policeman were nearby and gave the Chilean rider a stern talking to…of course when you speak the language, we imagine it’s a lot easier to talk your way out of a ticket than end up in some South American jail. Check the video after the jump, and let us know if you think Lopez should have been handed a time penalty for his actions.
Because KTM employs some of the best adventure racers in the world, there was little debate that the Austrian manufacturer would win its 10th consecutive Dakar Rally, on this the 33rd running of the race. However which of KTM’s top riders, Coma or Despres, would take the checkered flag this weekend at Buenos Aires was a question of some contention among adventure racing fans, as going into the latter stages of the event, it was either rider’s race to win.
That debate can finally come to a conclusion thought, as after racing over more than 3,000 miles on one of the most grueling Dakars to-date, Spaniard Marc Coma edged out Frenchman Cyril Despres for the overall rally win by a mere 15 minutes, which included a 10 minute penalty that Despres incurred earlier in the racing week. Photos, results, and more after the jump.
To call the Dakar dangerous is probably an understatement, as the rally has been fraught with stories of peril from its very inception. Often alone in some of the most remote terrain in the world, riders rely primarily on themselves for their safety, but the sport is marked with moments where participants put aside competition to help each other.
Stage 5 of the 2011 Dakar Rally had one of those stories yesterday, as KTM rider, and overall race leader Marc Coma found himself as the first person to come across an unconscious Olivier Pain on the race course. Coma, who himself had sustained a fall earlier in the day, stopped at Pain’s crash site and activated the unconscious rider’s emergency beacon. Coma stayed with with the fallen rider until his water carrier, Joan Pedrero, arrived on the scene.
Making its third start from South America, the 33rd Dakar Rally officially kicks off on New Year’s Day tomorrow in Buneos Aires. Making a quick trip to Victoria, Argentina (174 mils as the crow flies), the 2011 Dakar Rally competitors will have to contest with what is being considered a more difficult and technical course than last year’s route. In total there are 445 competitors (180 motorcycles, 140 cars, 67 trucks, & 32 ATVs) entering the race, but history tells us a smaller number will finish the course.
KTM’s Cyril Despres is favored in the motorcycle category, after winning the 2010 rally, but he will have to contend with fellow KTM rider Marc Coma and Francisco Lopez Contardo, whose Aprilia has been extensively improved upon over last year’s debut model, and could be a real contender this year in the Dakar. Of course rally purists will still lament the fact the race isn’t taking place in Africa, but the Dakar is getting back to its roots a bit, and has limited the use of global positioning satellites. Photos and video after the jump.
Leaking ahead of its EICMA debut, Bikes in the Fast Lane brings us the first image of the 2011 KTM Adventure 990 Dakar. An homage to KTM’s dominance in the Dakar Rally, this Adventure 990 is done up in blue livery with orange accents, anti-lock brakes, and gets some modest bolt-on parts (like that orange engine guard) from KTM’s aftermarket kit department.
The organizers of the Dakar Rally have released details on the 2011 edition of the adventure race. Dashing hopes that the race would return to its namesake, the Dakar Rally will again be held in Chile and Argentina. With the route going as far north as the Peruvian border, Dakar riders will see many more sand-filled stages, and will have to contend with a number of rule changes. Stage schedule and more, after the jump.
After a strong showing at this year’s Dakar Rally, Aprilia has seen a growing demand from non-factory backed teams who are interested in running the Aprilia RXV 4.5 Rally bike in the Dakar and other adventure racing series. Bending to this demand, Aprilia, in conjunction with Team Giofil, will be making available ready-to-race RXV 4.5 Rally motorcycles to private riders.
On the heels of a strong Dakar Rally showing, Aprilia is rumored to have a full-tilt adventure bike in the works. Based on the Shiver platform, the Aprilia Tuareg will feature a 750cc v-twin motor, steel tube chassis, and a 21″ front wheel for maximum off-road capability. The Aprilia Toureg is expected to tip the scales under 200kg (441lbs), and a road version with a 19″ front wheel and 1200cc motor could also make the 2011 line-up.
It doesn’t seem to matter where the Dakar Rally is located, or what restrictions race officials place on the motorcycle class, KTM continues its dominance of motorcycling’s most grueling and infamous race. After battling with Marc Coma and Aprilia’s Chilean secret weapon Francisco Lopez for stage wins and overall supremacy, Despres took his third Dakar victory, and continued a KTM tradition.
The Boston Globe is running a series of photos from the Dakar Rally, which we think are some of the best shots we’ve seen of the race to date. A mixture of octane and gorgeous landscape, we think you’ll enjoy these shots as much as we did. You can find the rest of them here at boston.com.
Rally racers are currently on their 12th stage of the race, heading from in San Juan, Argentina to San Rafael. After today, the riders will have to complete two more stages before the rally concludes where it began in Buenos Aires.
Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images