Red Bull-sponsored teams have claimed victory in the truck and bike categories during this year’s Dakar Rally.

Cyril Despres battled his way through the early stages of the 2013 event, in which buggy, bike, quad and lorry drivers took on 8,500 kilometres of harsh terrain in South America, and managed to claim his fifth Dakar victory.

Riding a KTM, the Frenchman gained his second consecutive win in the rally, despite suffering a penalty after he was forced to change engines mid-way through the race.

“Of course every win at the Dakar is special but this one stands out for me because it is the first time I have been able to defend my title. Winning the Dakar two years in a row is rare and nobody has done it since Fabrizio Meoni ten years ago,” he said of the win.

The final fourteenth stage of the thirty-fifth edition of the Dakar wound up today in Santiago. Frenchman Cyril Despres became overall winner for the fifth time in a race that had been wide open right up until the end of the last  special test. Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain was once again a main protagonist in this incredible rally with a third place in today’s stage, for Spaniard Joan Barreda taking the team’s tally to twelve podium places. Barreda himself has scored  four partial stage wins, showing just how competitive the Husqvarna TE449RR by Speedbrain is.

The final standings don’t really do justice to Husqvarna Rallye Team by Speedbrain or its riders, who were excessively punished for insignificant but costly technical setbacks which had previously not occurred all season. Joan Barreda, in particular, should have finished higher after he dominated the early stages; likewise Alessandro Botturi, who until three days ago was in fifth place.

Red Bull KTM factory rider Cyril Despres of France on Saturday picked up his fifth Dakar trophy when he crossed the line of the 2013 edition of the world’s most famous rally as the winner after more than 8000 km. It was KTM’s twelfth consecutive title and KTM riders took all five top overall paces.

Despres’ long time ‘water carrier’ or factory support rider Ruben Faria of Portugal won the final stage and finished second overall, ten minutes 43 behind the leader. Chilean Chaleco Lopez (KTM) was third overall while Slovak KTM rider Ivan Jakes was fourth and KTM factory rider Joan Pedrero of Spain was fifth.

The French rider, a veteran of this amazing race said it all after securing his fifth title: “I went for it, with all the surprises a Dakar can throw at you,” he said. “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.” Despres won Stage three and led the overall standings from Stage 10.

Faria too was thrilled to finish second. “Yesterday I lost second place and I thought that just being on the podium would be great for me; to be Cyril Despres’ lieutenant. I didn’t believe it could happen that I could finish second. It’s inconceivable.”

Alex Doringer KTM’s Factory Team Manager praised Despres’ riding, his tactics and strategy and said after the race that he was very proud of his entire team. “The result is amazing. The whole team did an exceptional job and we have to thank them all. We believed in our bikes and we believed in our riders. All seven of our factory riders finished and to have five KTM riders on the top of the list was a fantastic result.”

The Dakar 2013 had more than its share of dramatic moments for the KTM Factory team, including the last minute withdrawal just before the race by Despres’ long time teammate and rival Marc Coma. Coma’s injured shoulder, banged up in a crash in the Morocco Rally late last year was still giving him problems and doctors declared he was not fit enough to compete.

Despres also suffered a major setback in the marathon Stages 7-8 during which riders were unable to call upon outside mechanical help from their team. He was put back on track after being offered the engine from KTM supported rider Marek Dabrowski of the Orlen Team and by the collective effort of his fellow KTM riders who banded together to work at night and change out the engine themselves in the riders’ bivouac.

Jakub Przygonski of Poland and Riaan Van Niekerk of South Africa of KTM’s Factory B team finished eleventh and thirteenth. Kurt Caselli, KTM’s American rider drafted in to ride for injured Coma and Darryl Curtis of South Africa both recovered well from crashes and technical setbacks to put adversity behind them and finished a creditable 31st and 32nd.

Yesterday, the Fiambalá stage was neutralized at CP1 after the flood in the Rio Grande, which made it impossible to cross this part traced in the special stage.

“We were part of the group that crossed the three flooded rivers, explains Eric. At CP1 we were in the 8th place, and we were at the special´s rhythm. Unfortunately, we drove to the bivouac to take care of our Trophy Truck.”

The race direction inserted trucks into the cars category classification. Eric and Jean took the 17th position at the start this morning.

“Our main mission was to leave trucks behind as fast as we could. With all the dust, it is impossible to drive behind them, visibility is null. We made it at km 20, they were behind us.

Teamwork was on the agenda for the Red Bull KTM Factory team in Stage 12 of the Dakar 2013 when overall leader Cyril Despres worked with teammate and support rider Ruben Faria of Portugal to help him gain some overall time on KTM rival Chaleco Lopez, now racing on his home territory of Chile.

The tactics worked well and at the end of the stage Despres and Faria had secured 1-2 in the overall standings with just two stages to go to Saturday’s finish line in Santiago, Chile. Faria trailed Despres by 5 minutes 39 in the overall standings when riders arrived at the finish in Copiapo but more importantly, the Portuguese rider had gained around three minutes advantage on Lopez.

Dakar gets tough now with three tricky stages ahead of 13th January’s rest day at San Miguel de Tucuman. Today saw 454 km (284 miles) of special test split into two sections. Alessandro Botturi really pushed his Husqvarna TE449RR by Speedbrain hard finishing just behind the leaders in fifth place. Botturi, however slips down to tenth position in the overall standings, due to a fifteen minute penalty imposed after he had his engine changed for precaution ahead of tomorrow’s marathon stage.

Paulo Goncalves pushed hard too but was unlucky. Paulo won the first part of the special a minute ahead of Lopez, but an electrical problem at the start of the second stage caused him to slow down considerably, and he finished some way behind. Jordi Viladoms, who set a tremendous pace in the initial special part amongst the top ten, likewise had difficulties with the TE449RR’s electrics.

NAZCA, PERU – Toyo Tires equipped vehicles are scoring immediate victories in the world’s toughest endurance race, the 2013 Dakar rally.  As of today’s Stage 3, Toyo Open Country M/T-R tires have won Stages 1 – 3 thanks to Team Qatar Red Bull, while also finishing third in Stage 1 and second in Stage 3 for a total of five podiums.  This year’s Dakar rally runs January 5 – 20 and is nearly 5,000 miles in length.  The route runs southward from Lima, Peru to Santiago, Chile.

During the short 13km Stage 1 from Lima to Pisco in Peru, Carlos Sainz of Spain won the stage with his #303 Team Qatar Red Bull buggy.  Team owner, Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar, piloted his #300 Team Qatar Red Bull buggy to a third place finish.  Both cars were built in California and feature American V8 horsepower driving 37×13.50R17 Open Country M/T-R tires.

KTM, the brand whose factory teams and bikes have sealed eleven consecutive Dakar Rally victories announced in a press conference in Barcelona on Friday that one of its key riders, Spaniard Marc Coma will be unable to ride in the 2013 edition of the world’s most famous rally.

Coma, who injured his shoulder in an accident in the Morocco Rally in October is not completely fit. The team has therefore decided he should not tackle the event that involves more than 8000 km of perilous riding over the world’s toughest offroad terrain through Peru, Argentina and Chile.

“Marc is one of our key riders and together with his teammate Cyril Despres has giving KTM the last seven Dakar titles. While we are disappointed that he is unable to ride, the health and welfare of our factory riders is the most important consideration. If he is not 100 percent fit, it is better for him to sit out the 2013 rally,” said KTM factory team manager Alex Doringer. Coma, winner of three Dakar titles and the reigning World Cross Country World Championship is, together with his teammate Despres, recognized as one of the world’s finest exponents of rally sport.