David Casteu rode his KTM 690 Rally to overall victory in the seven-stage Pharaons Rally, a welcome return to the sand and the African continent after the last minute cancellation of the Dakar in January 2008 following terrorist threats.
A large crowd assembled to see the French KTM factory rider take victory against the majestic backdrop of the Giza Pyramids in Egypt with a slim margin ahead of teammate Frans Verhoeven (KTM 690 Rally) of the Netherlands. Italian Alessandro Zanotti was third.
Casteu and Verhoeven share line honours
Casteu was joined at the 45 km mark of what was a long 342 km final stage by Verhoeven who then rode together for the remainder of the race. The stage victory went to Verhoeven while Casteu, who dominated the 2008 edition of the Pharaons, finished with overall honours, his fist victory in a race that is valid for the World Championship. The Frenchman will now be a serious contender for the next Dakar Rally, to be held in South America in January 2009.
Perfect Dakar preparation, Casteu says
“It took me a week to fine tune my physical condition and my riding style but it was especially my navigation over very difficult terrain that has provided the perfect preparation for my next Dakar,” Casteu said after the race. Winning the trophy was simply the icing on the cake.”
Verhoeven satisfied with close second finish
Teammate Verhoeven was quick to congratulate Casteu saying he really deserved the victory. “I am also quite satisfied with my performance because it has been a long time since I rode in the desert. This rally has shown that my skill level is very satisfactory even if I still need more experience in navigation. It was very satisfying finishing just a minute and a half behind David after 3000 kilometres of desert race.”
Seven of the top 10 riders in this year’s rally rode KTM 690 Rally machines, underlining the dominance of the KTM “Made in Austria” brand.
1. David Casteu, France, KTM 29:17.31
2. Frans Verhoeven, Netherlands, KTM, 29:18.58
3. Alessandro Zanotti, Italy, Aprilia, 30:33:29
4. Luca Manca, Italy, TM, 30:41.16
5. Oscar Polli, Italy, KTM, 30:54.28