Dakar Rally : Bikes - Summary
The bike race was – for sure – a bumpy ride as the two favorites put on a great show as announced in the beginning of the race. But the second victory of Cyril Despres on the Dakar follows a series of more or less unforeseeable events. The heavy
blow of Marc Coma on the moral of his adversaries in the first two stages in Morocco was rather logical. Dominating the whole rally season, the title holder was again demonstrating his talents as a pilot and authoritatively asserting his position as the man to beat. The Catalan seemed to be all the more unbeatable that Cyril Despres, twice the victim of a broken gearbox, was almost one hour being the leader.
In the KTM Gauloises team, Isidre Esteve and David Casteu then took over from Despres to chase the world champion. But neither one actually manage to even get close to him, Esteve being also delayed by the defect identified in the gearboxes of the KTM 690 in the Atar – Tichit stage. Against this background, the efforts deployed by Cyril Despres to steel a few minutes a day to Marc Coma might have seemed vain, except if he hoped Coma would actually have to race for a whole special stage in first gear.
It's however not because of a mechanical problem that Coma had to withdraw. Two days from finish, just after entering Senegal, the leader made a mistake: a navigation error on km 35 of the Kayes – Tambacounda stage, a short period of fear or doubt lost in the forest more than 6 km away from the ideal route and the bike of the Spaniard somersaulted when hitting a stump. Coma himself slammed right into a tree. After having been taken care of by the rally doctors, Coma was finally declared out of danger but forced to withdraw from the rally. This withdrawal was profitable to Cyril Despres, whose misfortune in the 2007 edition will remind everyone of the fact that the Dakar is never over before arriving at Lac Rose.
Behind two-times winner (2005 and 2007), David Casteu remained in ambush and confirmed on this Dakar the steadiness he had already demonstrated all year long: vice-world-rally-raid-champion, he is also second in the benchmark event of this category keeping just about enough distance with USA's rising star Chris Blais.
In the top 10 of the overall rankings, the KTM Repsol team, which lost three competitors along the way, was close to absent. However, the long list of breakdowns gave hope to the amateurs as 7 of them aer in the elite and were the fastest in five of the special stages this year: i.e. Faria, then Rodrigues and Vinters twice each). Amongst them is Portuguese Helder Rodrigues, ranking 5th, who wins in the 450cc category in front of Corsican restaurant owner Michel Marchini and triple winner of the Touquet Enduro Thierry Bethys.
The rookie rankings of the Dakar finds France's endurance race champion and winner of the FFM Dakar Enduro Challenge, Fabien Planet in the lead: Fabien finishes 12th in the overall rankings. The women's competition, which remained very animated until Tambacounda for the 6 female bikers who started in Lisbon, was dominated end to end by Ludivine Puy, 44th in the overall rankings.
The specific quad rankings, which lost seven of its 13 competitors initially registered, was dominated by Czech Josef Machacek, 65th in the overall rankings in Dakar.
Press Release ASO