Peterhansel, Despres win Dakar Rally

Peterhansel, Despres win Dakar Rally

Frenchmen Stephane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres won the Dakar Rally on Sunday, completing the final stage two weeks after the race began in Argentina. Peterhansel won Dakar for a record-10th time and Despres added his fourth title.

"This is without a shadow of a doubt the toughest Dakar I've ever raced in," Despres said.

"It was difficult physically, but even more psychologically. Challenging yourself every morning and fighting on the course takes its toll on your mind."

The final special stage was only 29 kilometres long and both leaders took it easy on the last day.

Peterhansel in the cars category and Despres in the motorbikes almost wrapped up the title on Saturday, needing only to avoid a major catastrophe to climb the podium.

Despres saluted fellow Frenchman Peterhansel.

"There's only one Stephane Peterhansel in the world," Despres said.

The 46-year-old Peterhansel has won Dakar six times on motorbikes, and now four times in the car category. His last victory was in 2007 in cars and he has been racing Dakar since 1988.

Despres was unsure about making his own switch.

"I don't know if I'm good at driving cars - I've never tried," Despres said.

This is the fourth straight year the Dakar has been run in South America.

The past three years, it was run in a loop course from Buenos Aires to Chile, and back to the Argentine capital.

This time, the rally began in Mar del Plata in Argentina, skipped Buenos Aires, and worked it way across Argentina, crossed the Andes to Chile, and then headed north through the Atacama desert into Peru.

American Robby Gordon in a Hummer won the final stage with Peterhansel in a Mini finishing off the pace - three minutes, 12 seconds behind.

In the overall standings, Peterhansel wrapped up the rally by finishing 41:56 ahead of Mini team-mate Joan Roma of Spain, and 1:13:45 in front of Giniel Devilliers of South Africa in a Toyota.

In motorbikes, Pal Anders Ullevalseter of Norway won the final stage. Despres was 3:51 behind and, like Peterhansel, needed only to play it safe to guarantee victory.

Despres finished 53:20 ahead of KTM team-mate Marc Coma of Spain in the overall. Helder Rodrigues of Portugal, riding a Yamaha, was third - 1:11:17 behind the Frenchman.

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