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Dakar 2010: Despres wins third Dakar Rally

KTM one-two, third for Aprilia

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jan. 18, 2010
Cyril Despres won the 2010 Dakar Rally, his third time winning the event, and KTM’s ninth in a row.

Despres was the eighth rider across the finish for the 486-mile final stage, arriving in Buenos Aires, Argentina, five minutes behind his support rider Rubin Faria, but it was enough to secure the 2010 Dakar Rally victory. Despres also won the Rally in 2005 and 2007, but the 2010 race was his first win since the Rally moved to South America.

“I am human,” says Despres, who rode a KTM 690 Rally Replica. “I know I have been riding this bike for 15 days and I am exhausted but the little strength I had left just went in tears. KTM played a big part in this victory. They trusted us. We chose everyone. We have been working 24/7 for months. One thing is clear; I was not afraid of losing. I just wanted to win. And this will to win was stronger than the fear of losing. It was a tough Dakar, a beautiful Dakar and I am so glad I won.”

Cyril Despres won his third Dakar Rally by over an hour. Photo by J. van Oers

Second place went to another KTM rider, Pal Anders Ullevalseter, who completed the 5,580-mile Dakar Rally in 1 hour 3 minutes longer than Despres’ run. Ullevalseter finished strong, winning the second-last stage and coming in second in the final stage.

“To finish second in the standings is more than I expected. I had dreamed of it and there it is. On this Dakar, I only had good times. No problems, no crash,” says Ullevalseter, competing in his eighth Dakar. “The bike worked well. I may not be the fastest rider but I am experienced. I know how to navigate, I know the technique and I am much more relaxed. With my first stage victory (Friday), I have lived so many things in two days. It’s great times. The party is on for weeks to come now. I’ve been training for this moment for 25 years!”

Finishing third, and just six minutes back of Ullevalseter was Aprilia-rider Francisco Lopez Contardo. Unlike the two KTM riders ahead of him, Lopez Contardo rode a 450cc Aprilia RXV 4.5 instead of a power-restricted 690cc bike. Despite some earlier difficulties with fuel problems and a broken chain, the RXV 4.5 acquitted itself well in its first Dakar Rally, claiming a victory in the fifth stage.

“It is impossible to pass two weeks without the slightest problem. My Aprilia was exceptional and all the team did a great job to put myself in the best conditions,” says Lopez Contardo. “For a new bike and a team that is just starting, I could not ask for more. The most difficult time of this Dakar was the seventh stage, when I broke the chain, the most beautiful, besides being on the podium, was when I won the stage in Chile, in my country. Now is all about working immediately to continue the development of the bike and be more competitive, in order to go out for a victory in the next Dakar.”