RIGA - Motorcyclist Janis Vinters (KTM) won the final stage of the prestigious Dakar Rally on Jan. 21, finishing in sixth place overall. Vinters described his sixth-place finish as a "major achievement," and was welcomed home in wild jubilation by his Latvian fans. The final stage win marked Vinters' second scratch-time victory on the Dakar. On Jan. 15, the Latvian motorcyclist finished first in Stage Nine of the rally with a time of six hours, eight minutes and 51 seconds. French rider Cyril Despres won the 29th Dakar motorcycle title for the second time in three years.
Vinters' brother, Einars, also competed in the motorcycle rally. He finished in 14th place, overall.
This year's Dakar Rally - one of the most grueling motor races in the world - was marred by the deaths of two competitors. The first was South African motorcyclist Elmer Symons, who crashed in the fourth stage between Er Rachidia and Ouarzazate.
Symons was competing in the rally for the first time, and was the 47th competitor to die taking part in the Dakar. The second tragedy occurred on the 14th and penultimate stage when French motorcyclist Eric Aubijoux suffered a fatal heart attack 15 kilometers from the finish line.
Dakar is recognized as one of the most esteemed rallies in the world.
Starting in Lisbon, Portugal on Jan. 6, the course traverses 7,915 kilometers through Europe and Africa. A total of 525 teams participated the race this year - the most in Dakar history.