Despres beats Coma to win fourth Dakar title
Norway's Pal Anders Ullevalseter won the final stage from Pisco to Lima, with Coma in second place, but Despres' lead was such that he could afford to come home in 10th place and still seal victory.
Despres said: "Today we won and it's simply fantastic. This is without a shadow of a doubt the toughest Dakar I've ever raced in. It was difficult physically, but even more psychologically. Challenging yourself every morning and fighting on the course takes its toll on your mind. It's not like a 42-kilometre marathon; here, you have to earn your place every morning.
"All victories are beautiful, but this one is special because it came down to the wire and was decided at the last minute. This was an unimaginable scenario, with the leaders separated by mere seconds.
"I've done 90 or 85 rallies throughout my life, and this one was the one where I had to fight the hardest. Today will leave its mark on me."
Overall Results after final Stage 14
1, Cyril Despres, France, KTM, 43 hours 28 minutes and 11 seconds
2, Marc Coma, Spain, KTM at 53:20
3, Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha at 1:11:17
4, Jordi Viladoms, Spain, KTM at 1:40:56
5, Stefan Svitko, Slovakia, KTM 1:47:28
images by KTM