DAKAR 2010 – Grand slam for the Despres team; consecration for Sainz


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Cyril Despres wins his third Dakar in Buenos Aires after a last stage won by his support rider Ruben Faria. In the car category, Carlos Sainz gets his first Dakar victory after resisting the ultimate attack by Al Attiyah, who wins the last stage for just 36’’. The Spaniard keeps a historical lead of 2’12’’ in the final general standings.

At the end of stage 14, during which his position was never really threatened, Cyril Despres gets his third victory in a Dakar after winning the rally raid in 2005 and 2007. For this last stretch, that was literally a straight line, the KTM rider had a 1h04’20’’ lead on his closest contender in the standings, Pal-Anders Ullevalseter. Naturally, this fairly remote threat was easy to control for the Frenchman who just did what it took to get his bike to the finish line… still at an average speed of 133 km/h.

Winning the last stage – which is traditionally particularly coveted because of its prestige – took on a symbolic dimension today with the rise to power of Ruben Faria, who had started tenth this morning. By speeding up both to catch up with his leader and to give victory a try, Cyril Despres’ support rider first achieved best time at CP1. His ultimate stage finishes with fireworks with the best time of the day on a finish line where Despres was waiting for Faria to congratulate him warmly. The joy of the Despres team proved to be total a little later in the day when his protégé Christian Califano finished his second Dakar at the last place in the general standings!

A little further down the standings, the Dakar hierarchy could still have seen some changes. But despite all his efforts, “Chaleco” Lopez did not manage to bother Ullevalseter, ranking second in the standings and also finishing second of the stage… history repeating itself again for the eternally-second Norwegian rider! However the Chilean rider is more than happy to have completed his very first Dakar, to finish on the podium and to win the raid in the 450cc category with an Aprilia that was just starting in the raid as well. Still in the 450cc category, David Frétigné had to defend his fifth position in the standings being tailed by Alain Duclos who was just 3 short minutes behind him. The Yamaha rider only lost about 20” because – amongst other things – of the tire problems experienced by Duclos.

The situation was much more undecided in the car category where both leaders in the general standings, teammates at Volkswagen but not bound by any race orders, started the last stage with a minute gap between them. On a very fast track, where passing can only happen really carefully, Nasser Al Attiyah started with a clear but daring mission : regain 2’48’’ over Carlos Sainz to oust him off the top step of the podium. To make the game even more fascinating, the results of yesterday’s special stage had put the two BMW of Peterhansel and Chicherit right in the way of both contenders for victory at the start this morning.

Calling on the full energy of its Race Touareg on the track, Al Attiyah had gained 18’’ at CP1 (km 121). Carlos Sainz was only 81 km from victory with a virtual advantage of 2’30’’ in the standings! The Spaniard who had been in the lead of the raid since stage 5 did hang on to the shrinking time difference without panicking however. After passing so close to victory in 2007, and even closer in 2009, “El Matador” finally won his first Dakar, four years after starting the adventure with Volkswagen. History will also recall that the two-times WRC champ wins the Dakar with the smallest time difference of 2’12’’ ahead of Al Attiyah. After 4,806 km of special stages and at an average speed of 101.8 km/h, the distance between both Race Touareg is actually only 3.73 km!

In the truck category, we know now that at Kamaz even the third driver is top notch! Ilgizar Mardeev wins the last special stage of the 2010 edition of the Dakar and provides the Russian manufacturer with 100% success rate in the rally raid. He arrived 2’04’’ ahead of Wulfert Van Ginkel and 2’20 ahead of Martin Macik, but – more importantly – he allows Kamaz to hit the grand slam: the brand with the blue horse has indeed won all stages of the Dakar this year. This is unheard of and so is the historical list of 9 special stage victories in the same Dakar that Chagin has reached in this Dakar and whose record number is certainly here to stay. Chagin wins the Dakar by finishing first in general standings he led from start to finish and gets here his 6th Dakar victory hence joining another 6-time winner of the event called Karel Loprais with whom he now shares the record.