Spaniard Marc Coma won his third Dakar Rally today, the Repsol KTM rider adding this 2011 victory to his 2006 and 2009 wins. Coma was able to cruise to the finish today, ending the stage in fifth place - one spot behind his rival Cyril Despres.
"Staying focused was essential so I did focus on my riding," Coma said. "It was the only way to win. What was really tough was that I could not let my guard down, not even for a second. When a tough stsge was ending, the next one was even tougher. We all know that a Dakar is a difficult race but this year it was particularly difficult. This victory is the reward of all the hard work, the reward of many years and a lot of tensions over the last few days. It is the bonus you get for steering right and for so many sacrifices over the years."
After 13 stages of a race that began on January 1, Coma topped Despres by 15 minutes and four seconds and gave KTM its 10th consecutive victory in the Dakar Rally.
"This special is different if you are in first place as it was the case last year... then you want the race to be shorter," Despres said. "When you are second, you would want the race to be longer. But anyway, the feeling of finishing a Dakar is always nice especially here with all the people welcoming you. I am sad I could not do better than this, though I raced 11 Dakar, won three and ended eight times on the podium. One more would have been great. But I just could not make any better. I made some mistakes; they were two small mistakes, but they held some heavy consequences."
Today's stage was won by BMW Motorrad by Speedbrain's Frans Verhoeven, the Belgian earning the third stage win of his career and his first of this year's rally. Yamaha's Helder Rodrigues finished second today with Brazil's Jean de Azevedo finishing third. Despres and Coma finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Americans Jonah Street and Quinn Cody finished today's stage in 13th and 14th, respectively. Cody ended his first Dakar Rally an impressive ninth overall with Street holding on to finish 12th overall.
With KTM men Coma and Despres miles ahead in the overall standings, third place went to Rodrigues and his Yamaha. Francisco Lopez Contardo ended up fourth overall, despite having to be towed to today's finish line after a myriad of problems ruined his final day of the rally.
KTM's Juan Pedrero Garcia finished fifth overall.