Coma wins first Dakar in South America in 2009. Organizers re-launched the Dakar Rally in 2009 starting in Buenos Aires Argentina. Competitors completed a big loop across Argentina, over the Andes into Chile then back to Buenos Aires. It was a learning experience for all riders but overall two stood out. The rally was eventually won by Marc Coma and the Spaniard also took line honors in the first, third and fourth stages. Despres had a string of bad luck in the beginning and although did not make the final podium he fought back valiantly winning a total of four stages.
What happened in the 2009 Dakar?
Despite shock rule change in July 2009, Despres wins in 2010. Mid year in 2009, when team contracts had been secured and the 690 Rally factory bikes constructed, organizers made a rule change limiting the engine size for the pro class to no more than 450 cc. As a consequence KTM withdrew its official factory team but Coma and Despres went to the event at factory-supported riders. They competed in the 2010 with restrictors on their KTM 690 Rally bikes to conform to the new regulations. Despite the organizer’s attempt to break the KTM stranglehold on the Dakar, Cyril Despres still was first across the line at the end of the grueling encounter with the South American terrain. Marc Coma won a number of stages but his chances of a podium disappeared after he incurred a six-hour penalty.
What happened in the 2010 Dakar?
KTM develops the 450 Rally bike. Following the rule change governing engine capacity that affected the 2010 edition of the Dakar Rally, KTM’s Research and Development team immediately started work on the development of the new KTM 450 Rally bike. It was first seen in October 2010 when Marc Coma by then the 2010 World Champion, and Cyril Despres competed in the Morocco Rally. Cyril won on the new 450 Rally in its first official outing; Marc Coma was third.
Victory for Marc Coma and the new KTM 450 Rally bike in 2011
After 9600 km of competitive riding it was KTM’s Marc Coma who took line honors in 2011 on the new KTM 450 Rally bike, proving that even if the organizers changed the rile to try to break KTM’s stranglehold on the title, they did not succeed. It was KTM’s 10th consecutive Dakar victory. Cyril Despres, the title-holder going into the race, fought the good fight right up until the finish and was second overall. He trailed Coma by just over 15 minutes after 9600 km of competitive riding over the most challenging terrain possible. Despite a 10-minute penalty in the early part of the race for Despres he and Coma rode on equal terms throughout the 13 stages and frequently finished only minutes apart. Indeed in the penultimate stage there was only 37 second separating the two riders at the end of the day. Coma and Despres took victory in eight of the 13 stages – Coma won five stages and Despres won three.
What happened in the 2012 Dakar?
Even in its early stages the 2012 edition quickly developed into a two-rider race that was pure combat between the KTM factory rivals. Cyril Despres emerged as the winner taking his fourth Dakar trophy but he admitted that the rally had left its mark. Despres at the end of the 2012 edition: “All victories are beautiful, but this one is special because it came down to the wire and was decided at the last minute. This was an unimaginable scenario, with the leaders separated by mere seconds. I've done 90 or 85 rallies throughout my life, and this one was the one where I had to fight the hardest. Today will leave its mark on me.”
Although both riders incurred time penalties (an hour for Coma and 15 minutes for Despres), there was a mere eight minutes in actual riding time separating the two KTM heroes at the conclusion of the 2012 edition and the smallest of margins in the final stage.