Red Bull KTM factory rider Cyril Despres on Sunday rode into Lima in triumph to seal his fourth career Dakar title and to present KTM with its eleventh consecutive win in this, the toughest event on the annual motorsports calendar.

His KTM teammate Marc Coma finished second overall in what was one of the most epic two-way battles in the rally’s history.

KTM has now won the motorcycle division of the Dakar rally every year since 2001, with the exception of 2008 when it was canceled because of security threats. In the 2012 edition, eight of the top 10 finishers and 15 of the top 20 rode KTM machines underlining the dominance of the Austrian brand’s sports bikes.

The race was a personal triumph for French-born Despres who first won in 2005 and repeated the victory in 2007, 2010 and again in 2012. His KTM factory teammate Marc Coma, who won the rally in 2006, 2009 and 2011 finished second after one of the Dakar’s most historic and closely fought battles. Both riders set the scene for a two-way competition right from the first stage and remained minutes apart until the penultimate stage on Saturday. Coma won five stages in the 2012 edition and Despres four but it was the turn of the Frenchman to ride in triumph into Lima.

Cyril Despres went into Stage 11 of the Dakar Rally on Thursday with the slimmest of overall margins just 21 seconds ahead of KTM factory teammate Marc Coma. At the end of the 534 km timed split section, Despres was first across the line and had extended his lead to 2 minutes 22 over his rival.

Given that the race is around 9000 km and there are still three stages to the finish, the competition is still wide open.

The two KTM riders, who are more than an hour in front of third-placed Helder Rodrigues of Portugal, are both aware that the slightest mistake can cost them their fourth title in the world’s toughest rally.  They have also now both won four stages each in this edition. Other KTM riders in the forefront of the action in today’s stage were Gerard Farres Guell of Spain who was just 1 minute 39 behind Despres in second place and Johnny Aubert, KTM Enduro factory rider, competing in his first Dakar Rally on a series model KTM 450 Rally Replica bike. Farres led the bikes for much of the day and Aubert had his best ever day so far finishing fourth in the stage.

So with the two lead riders so evenly matched, from the same team and riding the same factory bikes it is now largely a matter of tactics. Coma and Despres finished 2-3 in yesterday’s stage so Coma went out first. Despres shadowed his opponent all day and only went into the lead in the last part of the ride. It was the Frenchman’s thirtieth Dakar stage victory.

Despres said today was all about attacking. ”In the beginning there had been a modification to the road book and the tracks weren’t very visible. I rode 100 meters too far but then I saw Marc was turning round, even though he started two minutes in front of me. The day was a tough one and started with pushing the bike through a stream. It could be an important development to have someone between Marc and me. With Farres at second it’s not good for me. Tomorrow will be complicated, but anything can happen on the Dakar.”

That is exactly what will happen tomorrow on the second of four stages in Peru. Despres will have to open the road as the first out of the start gate, then Farres Guell, a friend and Spanish colleague of Coma’s will go off two minutes later setting up a possibility for the title holder to quickly gain on Despres. Coma will also be assisted by Aubert who moves up to be his support rider after his water carrier Joan Pedrero was forced to withdraw after Stage 10.

KTM factory riders Marc Coma and Cyril Despres continued their dominance of the Dakar 2012 on Wednesday finishing second and third in Stage 10. Spanish rider Joan Barreda took his first career stage victory, breaking the stage victory run by the two KTM rivals who continue to battle it out for the overall lead. They are both vying for their fourth Dakar Rally title.

Despres sprang back from adversity on Tuesday after getting stuck in a mud hole on Monday to take his third stage victory in Stage Nine. He opened the road today as riders tackled more than their fair share of sand in Chile’s coastal deserts on the way from Iquique to Arica right on the Chilean-Peruvian border.

In this increasingly tight two-way battle it was Coma who prevailed on Wednesday and he finished one minute 32 seconds behind the leader. Despres, who expended a great deal of energy on Tuesday in his passionate ride to win Stage Nine, sacrificed some valuable time. He now leads the overall standings for this 9,000 km race from Mar del Plata on the Atlantic coast of Argentina to Peru on the Pacific Coast by just 21 seconds.

Stage 10 sent riders on 317 km of liaison sections and a timed special of 377 km. They started in the sand dunes then would up the day again dealing with the dreaded fesh-fesh, the power-fine dust feared by all.

It was business as usual for the two lead KTM factory riders, Cyril Despres and Marc Coma on Tuesday when riders set out for Stage 9 of the Dakar 2012 on a large arc from Antofagasta to Iquique in Chile. Despres, who had a dramatic day on Monday landing in a mud hole, went out like a man possessed, led throughout to claim the stage and reclaim the overall lead.

It was the French rider’s third stage victory in this edition. Coma has won four stages and with Stage Six scrapped, KTM has claimed seven of eight stages so far. Both riders are chasing their fourth Dakar Rally title and if either of them succeed it will represent KTM’s eleventh successive victory. The Austrian sports motorcycle specialist has shut out all the competition in every Dakar Rally since 2001 (the 2008 edition was cancelled).

Despres ended yesterday with a deficit of around 12 minutes after sacrificing the overall lead to Coma. The mud hole turned out to be a natural hazard that occurred after the final official inspection had been done by organizers and was not marked on the road book. Cyril and six other riders got stuck in the mud and race officials decided a detour was in order rather than deal with the obvious chaos. They later reinstated lost time to the riders disadvantaged and when they left on Tuesday Cyril trailed Marc by just over a minute.

It was with this in mind that he put down the hammer on his KTM 450 Rally bike and rode with a passion to lead throughout the special. His reward for such a doggedly determined ride was his third stage victory in Dakar 2012 to level with Coma’s three stages and a narrow lead in the overall standings.

When riders set out at Mar Del Plata on the Atlantic coast of Argentina on January 1 there were 178 in the start list of Dakar 2012. Now in Copiapo, Chile for the one rest day of the 2012 rally after nearly 4500 km the 33rd edition of the world toughest motor sports event it has again evolved into the tale of two riders: Cyril Despres and Marc Coma of the KTM factory team.

French rider Despres is in the overall lead with a cushion of almost eight minutes on teammate Marc Coma of Spain. But that is only half of the story. Third placed Helder Rodrigues of Portugal is almost 50 minutes behind Despres and that will be very difficult to overcome. Both KTM riders are attempting to win their third Dakar title and KTM, the Austrian sports bike specialist is looking at a potential eleventh consecutive title. KTM’s riders have one every edition since 2001, except in 2008 when the rally was cancelled on the eve of departure from Lisbon following security threats in North Africa. KTM also overcame a surprise change of engine size imposed by the rally organizers that reduced allowable engine size down to 450 cc. This was a move that was largely viewed as an effort to break the company’s stranglehold on the bike category.

KTM on Saturday wrote another chapter in its history when the sports motorcycle market leaders celebrated taking its tenth consecutive Dakar Rally title. The race was won in heroic style by Marc Coma closely followed by Cyril Despres, who between them have taken the past six Dakar titles for the Austrian brand. The victory also heralded an aggressive new era for KTM in rally sport, according to company CEO Stefan Pierer.

The victory was also celebrated by the presence of Hubert Trunkenpolz, Head of Sales and Marketing for KTM who traveled from Sao Paolo Brazil, where the company has just opened its latest international subsidiary, to be in Buenos Aires to greet the two KTM riders. The 2011 Dakar, over 9500 grueling kilometers, was thrilling from the first to the final stage as the two KTM heroes battled it out for the top podium place. Coma and Despres have dominated rally sport in recent years and there has rarely been two riders who share such passion and skill when competing in the world’s toughest rally. The company’s success was further underlined by excellent performances by many other KTM riders who successfully competed in the 33rd edition of the Dakar Rally.