KTM’s multiple Dakar Rally winner Cyril Despres hung on to the overall lead on the penultimate stage of the Desafio Litoral Rally in Argentina on Friday. He finished fourth in the stage and now has a narrow three minutes 44 seconds lead over KTM rider Jakub Przgonski of Poland going into Saturday’s short final stage of around 75 km.
But his result today was thanks in part to good teamwork in the KTM factory team. Despres destroyed a tire with about 40 km to go in the day’s second timed section and was helped out by KTM’s Taddy Blazusiak who swapped wheels with the Frenchman to allow him to finish the stage and stay within striking distance of the overall victory. Taddy then rode the rest of the timed section and the remaining 100 km back to the bivouac on the damaged wheel, thus preventing his teammate from losing too much time.
“I was pretty sure I could have finished on the wheel but Taddy swapped with me and I was able to get on with the race,” Despres said from the bivouac. “It means he is going to be starting quite far back in the field tomorrow and that will make it hard for him. Now I have a small advantage going into the last stage but in this sport you never know what is going to happen. For sure its never over till its over.”
Taddy, KTM’s Extreme Enduro specialist is in Argentina for his first ever taste of rally sport during the long summer break in the US EnduroCross Championship. He has done well during the rally but failed to finish in in the second stage after a crash that aggravated an old shoulder injury and damaged tire apart, also did well to arrive back at the bivouac today.
“I was happy with my riding today,” he said. “It was very fast and I had a good rhythm. It’s very different to Enduro riding but it was going well for me. Also there was not too much navigating to do today and in this respect I still have a lot to learn. But when I saw Cyril had trouble with his tire, it was natural that I should give him my wheel as he had a good chance to have the chance to take the win. After all, that’s what teammates are for.”
Image courtesy KTM Racing