Spain’s Marc Coma cruised into Buenos Aires a hero as he claimed his fifth Dakar Rally bike title.
Ivan Jakes won the shortened final stage of the race from Rosario to Buenos Aires, but the day belonged to Spanish legend Coma, who clocked an overall time of 46 hours three minutes 49 seconds for the gruelling race.
Portugal’s Paulo Goncalves finished second, 16:53 behind, with Australian rookie Toby Price finishing a magnificent third on his debut.
Coma’s tally of five wins sees him equal the mark of the great Cyril Despres – who took part in the car race this year – and puts him one victory away from matching the overall record of Stephane Peterhansel.
“I’m over the moon, that’s for sure. But even on the last day we weren’t able to take it easy. There was a storm, the ground got muddy and with desert tyres it wasn’t too easy,” said Coma.
“Our arrival in Bolivia heralded a decisive moment. We knew that. I survived and made it through Salar de Uyuni. That was the key moment.
“So I’m very happy. Delighted to be here. It’s been a life’s work with the entire team, the ideal bike… Now, after so much effort, it’s time to relax and have fun.”
Goncalves was left to rue an engine change following the 10th stage on Wednesday night, bringing with it a 16 minute penalty that extended Coma’s lead to 21 minutes at the time – and allowed the Spaniard to drive more conservatively over the final few days.
“There was a time when I was within striking distance of Marc Coma because there were hardly five minutes between us, but then I got a penalty for changing my engine,” he said.
“I was helped by my team-mate Jeremías Israel, who gave me his engine and without whom I’d never made it here to take second place. So this one’s for him. And we’ll try again next year.”
Price had no such misgivings after one of the best Dakar debuts in years.
“Being here in third place is insane! I’m at a loss for words,” he said.
“When I decided to sign up three or four months ago, I was quite nervous, I didn’t know what I was getting into. And now I’m on the finish line… happy.”
1. Marc Coma (ESP/Ktm) 46 h 03:49.
2. Paulo Goncalves (POR/Honda) 16:53. (pénalité: 17:00.)
3. Toby Price (AUS/Ktm) 23:14.
4. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI/Ktm) 38:38.
5. Stefan Svitko (SVK/Ktm) 44:17.
6. Ruben Faria (POR/Ktm) 1 h 57:50. (pénalité: 41:00.)
7. David Casteu (FRA/Ktm) 2 h 00:14.
8. Ivan Jakes (SVK/Ktm) 2 h 18:18.
9. Laia Sanz Pla-Giribert (ESP/Honda) 2 h 24:21.
10. Olivier Pain (FRA/Yamaha) 3 h 09:09.