Dakar: Final winners' quotes

MOTOBIKES: Richard Sainct (KTM - n.7) 1st overall "Even if it's the third time, it's a very emotional moment. I have as much pleasure as the first time. Today I'm more than satisfied. It'll take some days to realise but it's a great day. These...

MOTOBIKES:

Richard Sainct (KTM - n.7)
1st overall
"Even if it's the third time, it's a very emotional moment. I have as much pleasure as the first time. Today I'm more than satisfied. It'll take some days to realise but it's a great day. These past few days I kept on repeating that it wasn't over until after the finish. And we saw it with Peterhansel. To win the Dakar, I didn't wait until every won was eliminated. The only one that could have worried me was Meoni. He was unlucky due to mechanical problems. That's sport! I wanted to go rather quickly the first week because it's never easy to be behind. When you're in front, it puts pressure on the others and it allows you to see what the others do even if the gaps are little. I stayed focused untl the end. It's my way of being. Now everything finishes well and I'm happy."

Winner Richard Sainct celebrates.
Photo by Gauloises Racing.

Cyril Despres (KTM - n.7)
2nd overall
"It's a great joy today of finishing in second place of the overall and having gone through this fabulous Dakar 2003. I'm delighted for myself and for the people who have helped me. I have a thought for my doctor, my physio and my sport center in Andorra. A lot of work has been done before the start. Being on the podium is a great moment of happiness. It's something that any sportsman awaits. It just shows you have to work and never give up."

Fabrizio Meoni (KTM - n.1)
3rd overall
"It isn't the Dakar in which I've suffered the most. When I was a privateer, I had my fare share of pains and problems. On the other hand, of the last Dakars, it's the most difficult. I believe I rode well and every day did the maximum. I had a fantastic bike but very diffictult to ride. I knew that with such a bike it would be diffcult to give the maximum every day. My overall position isn't very important. The most important thing for me is to have pleasure. And to have maximum emotions, you have to ride at the maximum. Today I went slowly because I had gear problems. Every year I want to do the Dakar even more. I hope to be hear next year. This race counts a lot for me and I can even say that the Dakar is almost all my life. In my life I have my family and racing. I can only consider the Dakar on a bike. If I'm in good health, next year I'll be on the start line."

CARS:

Hiroshi Masuoka (Mitsubishi - n.200)
1st overall
"At the start I had in mind to lose the less possible time on Peterhansel. Despite that, I lost a lot of time with punctures. I had planned not to lose over 3minutes in Siwa. It was ideal to finish the rally. I never gave up the idea of winning the Dakar. I was only 23 minutes behind Peterhansel, not a lot on a Dakar. If he has a problem, the situation changes immediately. Until the last minute, I knew that everything was still possible. I didn't want to go beyond the limits of the car or myself. Team manager Seriyes told us to take it easy without giving orders for the overall. He was scared that both cars would break down. It was a Mitsubishi team race. When I found out what was happening to Peterhansel, I told myself that you always have to keep hope. You prepare for the Dakar in the best way but things can always happen. The experience I had on the 2001 rally helped me a lot and made me stronger psychologically. Today I thank Schlesser. To win the Dakar once is important, to win it twice is fantastic. The Dakar is the most important sporting event of the year and to win is great for the Japanese."

Jean-Pierre Fontenay (Mitsubishi - n.202)
2nd overall
"I always have trouble realising that the race is over. We're satisfied, we've lived a Dakar high on emotions and drastic changes. Nervously it was very tough and I have to thank Gilles Picard (co-driver) because it hasn't been an easy Dakar and I ennoyed him a lot. We're happy to be second and we couldn't have hoped for a better place. We didn't want to get this position like that. But it's the way it happened. I'm sad for Peterhansel and Cottret but they'll have other chances. It must be difficult for them but they have to take it as a slight change of schedule. It's the Dakar. It's part of the good and bad memories of the rally. It was another crazy Dakar. Every day something happened. On a human point of view, we've done a good Dakar. We helped the others, we did our race. It's a satisfaction. We have the feeling that we've accomplished our task. We can now go home with a smile on the face."

Stephane Peterhansel (Mitsubishi - n.206)
3rd overall
"You can not imagine such a nightmare. You know it's possible but think it'll never happen. You tell yourself that unless the finish line is not crossed, it isn't over, but still consider that there are very few chances of it happening. We had enough time to control the race. You also have to cope with the pressure but it has nothing to do with what happened to us. Many bad circumstances have made this day such a catastrophe, for us anyhow. What's very frustrating is that when you finish and haven't managed the goal you had set, you have to wait for a year before trying again. It doesn't matter, we still have managed a great team race. I showed that we were fast on any kind of surface and it's good for the future. When I entered this Mitsubishi team, with one of the best cars, I didn't know if I would be at the level of the other drivers. I have to remain positive: I was at the level...yes, certainly the fastest. I'm confident for the next years."

TRUCKS:

Vladimir Tchaguine (Kamaz - n.407)
1st overall
"Our goal from the start was to win the Dakar, especially this one. From the start and halfway through the rally, everyone was sure that De Rooy would win. After the rest day, things changed and we started having the feeling that we could push them off the podium. Added to that our second truck managed a great finish to the race and took third spot. It certainly is my most difficult victory out of the three because the battle in the truck race has never been so fierce. Daf is an excellent rival and it would be great for the fans if they came back next year."

Andre De Azevedo (Tatra - n.410)
2nd overall
"It's a great result for us. We managed to keep second spot despite the attacks from Kabirov in the last days. A very interesting result for all the Brasilian team. We've managed a podium in each category: cars (3rd diesel Production), bikes (1st Amateur), Trucks (2nd overall). The atmosphere in the team is great when you finish a Dakar. We'll party tonight. We're going to work on the truck to be able to fight it out with the Kamaz and Daf trucks."

-aso-

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