KTM factory rider and multiple Dakar Rally winner Cyril Despres of France put his head down and found the necessary power to take overall victory in the Morocco Rally on Saturday in the final of the six stages.
Despres took the victory by almost seven minutes ahead of Spain’s Joan Barreda while KTM rider Chaleco Lopez of Chile was overall third.
The six-stage rally in the desert of Morocco was the final rally of the year and the next time Despres and his teammates compete with me in the 2013 Dakar Rally that starts on January 5 in Lima, Peru.
Speaking that the end of the final stage, Despres said he went out feeling confident despite knowing there was only a narrow five-minute gap between him and Barreda and the final stage was a short 171 km. It had rained overnight and organizers were concerned that there may be water in the dry riverbeds that were included in the final stage but riders encountered no such problems, he said. “I knew I had to go out and make a good ride.”
Barreda opened the track and Despres was back at ninth but he said he felt very confident. “I like that kind of pressure,” Cyril commented. “You have to concentrate 100% because you know you can lose the race. Now its great to leave Morocco with the win and to have such a good feeling, also about the bike (KTM 450 Rally) and the team.”
He reflected that it had been a hectic week of mixed fortunes on the track during which his teammate Marc Coma crashed and had to exit with a dislocated shoulder. “This is our last ride for 2012 and the next time we meet will be at the Dakar 2013 in January. I hope Marc will come back soon and we can do a good job at the Dakar.”
Coma, who returned immediately to Spain for treatment after his crash, has now confirmed on social media that his injury only involves the dislocation and nothing more complicated and he said he is starting rehabilitation on Monday.
Morocco Rally – Stage Six (final stage)
1, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Honda, 1 hour 50.50
2, Juan Pedrero, Spain, KTM at 0.19
3, Cyril Despres, France, KTM at 0.27
4, Sam Sunderland, Britain, Honda, at 1.12
5, Paolo Goncalves, Portugal Husqvarna, at 1.20
7, Chaleco Lopez, Chile, KTM at 2.59
9, Alessandro Botturi, Italy at 4.43
15, Riaan Van Niekerk, South Africa at 12.11
16, Darryl Curtis, South Africa at 12.27
17, Kuba Przgonski, Poland at 13.08
Final standings Morocco Rally after Stage Six
1, Despres, KTM 17 hours 58.36
2, Joan Barreda, Spain, Husqvarna, at 6.52
3, Lopez, Chile at 34.28
4, Frans Verhoeven, Netherlands, Yamaha at 40.42
5, Goncalves at 43.52
9, Przgonski at 1 hour 2.15
11. Pedrero at 1:19.44
12, Botturi at 1:28.17
14, Van Niekerk at 2:14.05
15, Curtis at 2:28.34
16. Jacek Czachor, Poland, KTM 2:44.38