In Sardegna Rally 2009
Red Bull KTM Rally Team factory rider Cyril Despres of Andorra wrapped up a week of tough navigation and challenging rally riding the 2009 Sardegna Rally on Monday to emerge victorious for the second consecutive time.
Despres won four of the
ten stages to triumph on the final day over fellow KTM riders David Casteu and Jordi Viladoms who came home in the minor places in the Open Super Pro category. Eight of the top ten in the category were riding KTM 530 rally bikes. Lionel Laine of France, winner on a KTM quad in the Tunisia Rally earlier this year, also won the quad division of the rally on a KTM 525 machine.
Coma out after accident Sunday
But rally fans were denied the characteristic two man battle to the finish line when Despres' arch rival and fellow Dakar winner Marc Coma of the Repsol KTM Factory Team had to withdraw injured on Sunday. Coma crashed and was flown off the island with first reports saying he had a broken collarbone and a possible fractured arm. Doctors discounted internal injuries and he was flown back home to Spain for appropriate treatment. Coma had a four minute overall lead over Despres after Saturday's two stages and the two were all set to deliver yet another gripping race to the finish line. The Spaniard's accident thus deprived dedicated fans from seeing another closely fought battle between the world's two top rally riders.
Hard last days
Despres described Sunday as a hard day, saying navigation was difficult and there were many rocks hidden in the grass and it is possible that such a hazard may have caught Coma off guard. Sunday was a long ride after which competitors spent the night in the bivouac at about 1300 meters on the island's Mount Limbara, where they were in for a cold and wet night. Many had to set off on the final two stages on Monday with wet clothes.
Despres satisfied with second consecutive victory
Despres said he was satisfied with his victory even though he had made mistakes during the stages that required absolute concentration and fine navigation skills. "I made some mistakes but in the end I am satisfied to have won this rally. The Sardegna Rally Race is unlike any other rallies we do.
It is only for bikes and the terrain is much more technical. This is very different from competing in Africa. We came here with Enduro bikes and the navigation was very challenging," he said. Despres said he enjoyed variation in the rallies and was now looking forward to competing at the Erzberg Rodeo in Austria and the Red Bull Romaniacs. He will also compete in the Pharaohs Rally and in Morocco later in the year.
Lighter Enduro KTMs perfect for Sardegna terrain
KTM Rally team manager Alex Doringer said the leading KTM riders were all on the KTM EXC 530 in Sardegna instead of the KTM 690 machines that dominate the top rankings in the Dakar and other rallies. "The Sardegna Rally is a typical rally where the smaller Enduro bike is better placed than the rally bike," he said. "The special stages are shorter and more technical so there's no problem with fuel capacity. In addition the smaller, lighter bike is much better suited to the track profile."
Overall Results All Classes
1 Cyril Despres, Andorra, KTM, 14:02.25.2
2 Andrea Macini, Italy, Husqvarna at 7.00.2
3 Olivier Pain, France, Yamaha, at 16:09.8
4 David Casteu, France, KTM at 21:29.6
5 Paolo Peci, Italy, Aprilia, at 23.10.0