Morocco Rally: KTM’s Despres Takes Overall Lead

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2012 Morocco Rally Stage 4 Results

KTM was the dominate machine during the fourth stage of the 2012 Morocco Rally.

Taking the win was Poland’s Kuba Przgonski, the KTM rider finishing the 250-kilometer special in three hours, 28 minutes and 44 seconds. This makes for four different winners in as many stages.

Arriving 2 minutes and 47 seconds later was Red Bull KTM’s Cyril Despres, who won stage 2. With his stage-four results, Despres moves into the overall standings with two stages remaining.

The 2012 Dakar Rally winner now has a clear shot at winning the rally. His main competitor, Red Bull MRW KTM’s Marc Coma, was forced to retire due to dislocating his shoulder in a wreck during Wednesday’s stage (3).

And the overall leader heading into stage four – Team HRC Honda CRF 450 Rally rider Helder Rodrigues – had engine problems, forcing him to DNF Thursday.

Speaking of Thursday’s stage, KTM says: “Riders tackled about 250 km of tough desert riding with a mix of rocky piste and sand dunes but it was the notorious sand storms that gave them the most problems with very poor visibility.

“This resulted in a significant reshuffle of the leader board, which saw many of the top ten riders up to now drop down the order. The difficult conditions could also be a problem for the lead riders in tomorrow’s stage. It covers a lot of the same territory and is about the same distance. Przgonski is in charge of opening the track, not an enviable job given the sand storm situation.”

As for Rodrigues, he will continue Team HRC’s “shakedown” of the CRF 450 Rally, participating in the final stages to prep the bike for the 2013 Dakar Rally. This year’s Dakar will be the first time in 24 years factory Honda will field a bike in the event.

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Helder Rodrigues says: “I’m very disappointed but this is racing. We were here to make a shakedown of the machine and we were doing very well. I was opening the track when the machine developed a fuel problem and I had to wait 11 minutes for the first rider to catch me. It’s a pity because today I had already gained a good margin and I could have improved the gap in the overall classification. Tomorrow we will continue the race as the priority is to do the shakedown of the machine in preparation of the Dakar, which remains our priority.”

As for the American Johnny Campbell, Rodrigues’ teammate, he finished 17th in stage four, and is 18th overall.

Johnny Campbell says: “This was the most difficult stage so far. We had to pay a lot of attention to the GPS and the CAP. The terrain was tough too, with many dunes, big and little ones of soft sands so it was almost impossible to have a good rhythm.”

The penultimate stage of the rally takes place Friday, consisting of 427 kilometers, with 246 of those timed.

2012 Morocco Rally Stage 4 Results:
1. Kuba Przgonski, Poland, KTM, 3 hours 28.44
2. Cyril Despres, France, KTM + 2.27
3. Felipe Zanol, Brazil, Honda + 4.19
4. Olivier Pain, France, Yamaha + 6.09
5. Frans Verhoeven, Netherlands, Yamaha, + 6.09
17. Johnny Campbell, USA, Honda, +37.54
Note: Helder Rodrigues of Portugal on the Honda, leaders by 11 minutes after Stage 3 did not finish Stage Four because of engine problems.

2012 Morocco Rally Overall Standings (after stage four of six):
1. Despres, at 13 hours 11.54
2. Barreda + 17.59
3. Verhoeven + 31.51
4. Zanol + 33.21
5. Pain + 33.23
18. Campbell +3:25.14