KTM’s Despres Wins 2012 Morocco Rally

2012 Morocco Rally Final Results

Although he had the overall lead when the fifth of six stages in the 2012 Morocco Rally wrapped up Friday, Red Bull KTM’s Cyril Despres was receiving much pressure from Team Speedbrain Husqvarna’s Joan Barreda.

The Spaniard Barreda dominated stage five, and trailed Despres in the overall standings by 5 minutes and 33 seconds as the rally entered Saturday, the final day of racing.

But Despres – a Frenchman with four Dakar Rally wins – overcame the pressure to take the Morocco Rally win. Joining Despres on the overall podium was Barreda and KTM’s Chaleco Lopez, respectively.

Taking the stage-six win was Team HRC Honda’s Helder Rodrigues, the man who also won the first stage but had technical issues on his CRF 450 Rally in stage four. Joining Rodrigues on the podium was KTM’s Pedrero Garcia and Despres.

KTM reports that speaking that the end of the final stage, Despres said he went out feeling confident despite knowing there was only a narrow five-minute gap between him and Barreda and the final stage was a short 171 kilometers. It had rained overnight and organizers were concerned that there may be water in the dry riverbeds that were included in the final stage but riders encountered no such problems, he said "I knew I had to go out and make a good ride."

Although he started back in ninth, Despres felt confident: “I like that kind of pressure. You have to concentrate 100-percent because you know you can lose the race. Now its great to leave Morocco with the win and to have such a good feeling, also about the bike (KTM 450 Rally) and the team.”

Barreda also commented on the outcome.

Joan Barreda (Speedbrain Husqvarna TE449R) says: “All of us have done an excellent job and I’m really pleased with the second place. We’ve got a really strong bike and a team that’s well prepared for the Dakar. Our mission to come out here and test the team and bike ahead of the Dakar has been achieved. This is a very intense and dangerous race with such a lot of navigation. Besides, all the top riders in the world have turned out for this rally, which is why the result is all the more significant.”

Despres then reflected that it had been a hectic week of mixed fortunes on the track during which his teammate Marc Coma crashed and had to exit with a dislocated shoulder. “This is our last ride for 2012 and the next time we meet will be at the Dakar 2013 in January. I hope Marc will come back soon and we can do a good job at the Dakar.”

Coma, who returned immediately to Spain for treatment after his crash, has now confirmed on social media that his injury only involves the dislocation and nothing more complicated and he said he is starting rehabilitation on Monday, KTM reports.

As for the American Johnny Campbell, the Team HRC rider finished 18th overall.

Johnny Campbell (Team HRC Honda CRF 450 Rally) says: "With the last night’s rain, the terrain was wet. We had  good traction and it was easy to follow the piste. I enjoyed  today’s stage through the mountains a lot. The piste was similar to what we have in Nevada and California, where I usually train. The rally was a good test for me. Our team is very experienced in many different areas but we are young as a rally team, so it was very good to be all here to unify the crew and find a good dynamic. The data we collected are invaluable for the Dakar."

This was the final rally before the 2013 Dakar Rally, which starts in Lima, Peru, Jan. 5, 2013.

2012 Morocco Rally Stage Six Results (final stage):
1. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Honda, 1 hour 50.50
2. Juan Pedrero, Spain, KTM + 0.19
3. Cyril Despres, France, KTM + 0.27
4. Sam Sunderland, Britain, Honda, + 1.12
5. Paolo Goncalves, Portugal Husqvarna, + 1.20

2012 Morocco Rally Final Standings:
1. Despres, KTM 17 hours 58.36
2. Joan Barreda, Spain, Husqvarna, + 6.52
3. Chaleco Lopez, Chile, KTM + 34.28
4. Frans Verhoeven, Netherlands, Yamaha + 40.42
5. Paolo Goncalves, Portugal, Husqvarna + 43.52