Monday January 21, 2013
French delight Peterhansel and Despres retain Dakar Rally titles
SANTIAGO: Stephane Peterhansel claimed a record fifth Dakar Rally driversí title on Saturday, and 11th overall of his career, while French compatriot Cyril Despres captured a fifth motorcycling crown.
Peterhansel, the champion on four wheels in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2012, as well as being a motorcycle winner on six other occasions, beat Ari Vatanenís 25-year-old record of four auto titles on the gruelling endurance event.
ďItís a special moment Ė 15 days of racing full of emotions and ten-sion and, now, the pressure vanishes all of a sudden,Ē said Peterhansel, who was the favourite once former winners Carlos Sainz and Nasser al-Attiyah were forced to retire.
ďThis is the first time since I started racing in cars that weíve finished a race without a single mechanical problem. This is the best car Iíve ever driven.
ďIt wasnít an easy victory, because we knew the buggies (of Sainz and Al-Attiyah) would be fast. But this situation enabled me to focus from the start of the race. I attacked to open up a gap between me and my rivals.Ē
Spainís Nani Roma claimed the eventís last stage, and his fourth in 2013, as the 8,000km race ended with a 150km timed run into Santiago.
Peterhansel, taking part in his 25th Dakar, eased through the final stage to take overall victory by 42:22 over South Africaís Giniel de Villiers in a Toyota.
Russian Leonid Novitskiy was third, 1í28:22 behind his Mini teammate Peterhansel.
Despres, riding a KTM, added the 2013 title to his wins in 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2012.
Portugalís Ruben Faria claimed second place, 10:43 off his teammateís pace, with Chilean rider Francisco Lopez, on another KTM, in third, 18:48 behind the leader.
ďItís true that I needed to cross the line and see all these pictures and people here to know that no-one can take this win from me,Ē said Despres, who was 17th on the concluding stage.
ďThe day when winning the Dakar becomes easy, it wonít be interesting any more. And this day is still far off.
ďItís too long, itís too tough, itís too hot, itís too cold, youíve got to rise early in the morning, youíve got to find your way out of the dune mazes in Peru and Chile, youíve got to tackle the stones and cactuses on the courses near Cordoba.
ďItís just too tricky for it to be easy to win. And itís even better when you win a difficult race.Ē Ė AFP