BACK-STAGE WITH CYRIL DESPRES!
Five days after Cyril Despres won his fifth Dakar Rally title and the twelfth for the KTM brand, the French rider extraordinaire made a visit to Austria, KTM’s country of origin. He had quite a lot to talk about and also an important surprise in the luggage!
Cyril Despres started on the KTM 450 Rally in the 2013 Dakar as the titleholder but without his rival and brand teammate, the injured Marc Coma. He was able to take the overall lead in the third of 14 workdays but it was still a long way to go to securing his fifth title.
“It was a strange feeling to start the rally without Marc. There were enough riders who could go at a good tempo but it was never sure if they were right in their navigation. This was something I never had to consider with Marc in the previous years. It was the stages before and after the rest day that were the deciding factors,” Despres commented when he arrived at Hangar 7.
As a small gesture of thanks he brought with him a duplicate of the original trophy, which he handed over to KTM CEO Stefan Pierer. Pierer was impressed with both Despres’ riding and tactical skill during the Dakar and was very pleased to be given the rather heavy gift. “I follow the race on the Internet via live timing. The stages up to the rest day were full of suspense. But after the rest day Cyril put in a very impressive performance and took over as overall leader. This is yet another great success for KTM and a perfect start to the new season. My congratulations to all the riders and a big vote of thanks to the team and our sponsors who have all contributed to us achieving a dozen victories!”
Pit Beirer (KTM Head of Motorsports) and Heinz Kinigadner (KTM Motorsport Manager) both agreed. “The competition this year was much stronger than in past years. But it again showed that the experience of the rider and above all, that of the team is just as important as having a reliable and fast bike,” said Beirer. “Winning various stages are highlights but the art is in being able to master all the tests and the long preparation time. The results this year once again proved this and that is the reward for all of our hard work,” added Kinigadner.
Just as it has in the previous years, KTM again had the best finisher quota when compared to other brands – ten KTM riders in the top 20 finishers while the first five places in the general standings were safe in Orange hands.