Stephane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres have defended their Dakar Rally titles

Last Updated: 19/01/13 9:59pm

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Frenchmen Stephane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres have successfully defended their car and motorbike titles in the Dakar Rally.

Peterhansel, leading the race since the second stage on January 6, has become the most successful driver in the world's toughest rally with his fifth victory to go along with a record six on a motorbike.

He is the first person to win the car category twice since the rally moved from Africa to South America in 2009 for security reasons.

With a commanding overall lead, Peterhansel cruised to eighth behind Mini team-mate Nani Roma, the winner of the 14th stage into Santiago on Saturday.

"It's a special moment - 15 days of racing full of emotions and tension and, now, the pressure vanishes all of a sudden," said Peterhansel.

"This is the first time since I started racing in cars that we've finished a race without a single mechanical problem. This is the best car I've ever driven."

Overall, Peterhansel beat 2009 winner Giniel de Villiers of South Africa by 42 minutes, and by nearly 90 over another Mini team-mate, third-placed Leonid Novitskiy of Russia.

Despres' fifth title on a KTM tied him in rally history with the inaugural Dakar winner, countryman Cyril Neveu. The pair are second only to Peterhansel in bike titles.

Despres was 14th, four minutes behind stage winner Ruben Faria of Portugal. In the overall, Despres was 10:43 ahead of Faria and 18:48 ahead of Chile's Francisco Lopez.

"It's true that I needed to cross the line and see all these pictures and people here to know that no-one can take this win from me," said Despres.

"The day when winning the Dakar becomes easy, it won't be interesting any more. And this day is still far off."

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