KTM Gauloises’ Cyril Despres rode his KTM to an important victory in stage 10 of the Telefonica Dakar rally today, a stage win that propelled him into the overall lead of the grueling race.
Despres started seventh in the 300-mile loop that took riders north to Atar and back again. The Frenchman clocked the best times at both checkpoints and led to the finish, winning the eighth Dakar stage of his career and his first in this year’s race.
Today's stage was marred by the announcement that Jose Manuel Perez had died after his crash during stage seven of the event.
Despres led Fabrizio Meoni by over 10 minutes to take a nine-minute and 13-second lead on the Italian in the overall standings. Meoni had been penalized 10 minutes during stage nine for going off-course otherwise the Italian would still be leading the Dakar.
Today was a tough day for Pal-Anders Ullevalseter as the Norwegian rider was forced out of the rally after injuring his shoulder. Ullevalseter was running third overall after nine stages of the race.
Third place overall is held by Marc Coma, the Spaniard riding his KTM to fifth in the 10th stage of the event.
Yamaha’s David Fretigne continued to battle in this year’s Dakar, the Frenchman riding his WR450 to fourth in stage 10 to hold on move to sixth in the overall standings. Fretigne is the lone non-KTM rider in the top 10.
The Americans continue to shine in the Dakar with Kellon Walch one-upping his teammate Chris Blais today with the pair finishing 10th and 11th, respectively. In the overall standings, however, Blais is one spot better than his Red Bull KTM teammate as the rookie pairing hold down 10th and 11th in the overall standings. Red Bull KTM team manager and rider Scot Harden ended stage 10 in 20th place and he is 18th overall.