The RaceThe first part of the race is on. A monetary prize (1500 euros) is awarded to the first motorcycle that enters in the first turn after the straight.As he did last year, Frenchman Cyril Despres (dorsal #1, runner-up in this year's Dakar race) turned the holeshot! He had a specially prepared KTM 950 SE and his sole objective was to win the holeshot. Despres donated the money to the Fabrizio Meoni School in Dakar! Despres retired after two laps, since his motorcycle was too heavy to run in the loose sand of the circuit itself, and he was still suffering from the injuries he obtained during the '06 Dakar race.His lead in the first corner was enormous. He had been timed at 190 kph (118 mph) in the straight, something the smaller motorcycles could never achieve.He was followed by a large contingent of professional riders on a variety of motorcycles. They themselves were followed by the "rest," a big group of some 800 riders with different degrees of experience and dedication.The first corner led into the first hill, and became a major bottleneck, with hundreds of motorcycles trying to get into a good position. Motorcycles were strewn all over the place. Many had fallen, others had already broken down. The first half lap saw 23 motorcycles withdraw. Several had not even passed the quarter-lap marker.In the meantime, the professional riders were progressing. At the end of the first lap, Frenchman Timotei Potisek (#2) on a Honda was leading by a small margin. Potisek had twice already come in as runner-up, and he really wanted to win this time. The favorite, Arnaud Desmeesters (#6), was following on his Yamaha. Desmeesters was on a hunt to beat the record of the most number of wins. He was tied with Dutchman Kees van der Ven at five wins, and Desmeesters desperately wanted his sixth win.Official KTM rider, Frenchman Jean-Claude Mouss (#10), was hoping to give the Austrian motorcycle manufacturer a foot on the podium after 20 year's absence from the highest ranks.Once the professional riders reached the far end of the track, their riding style changed. No longer could they race full-out, trying to outmaneuver each other. Now they had to take into account all the lappers! With immobilized motorcycles, fallen riders, riders who had stopped to take a breather or just to take in the sights had become major moving or stationary obstacles. Dodging them at high speeds is an art form!Watching these pros dart through the field is amazing, a spectacle to be seen. Few other races in the world allows such a close contact between the top riders and the weekend riders.Each lap takes about 10 minutes for the top riders, while some private entries needed one hour to complete a lap.A quarter into the race, Potisek had installed himself in the lead. Desmeesters continued to fight for every inch, moving closer and closer. Not an easy task on a normal track, but here, with hundreds of riders between him and his target, it was an almost impossible objective.At the refueling, Potisek left the pit lane like a bat out of hell. He clipped another rider who had fallen at the base of a hill, avoiding him in the air by inches. It looked like he pulled the bike higher into the air in order to avoid the downed rider.Demeesters was not that lucky. His Yamaha ran into mechanical problems and he was forced to let Mouss pass him.Approximately three minutes away from the finish, Potisek had a choice. Since the race was to last three hours, he could slow down and pass the finish line at around the three-hour mark or continue at the high pace he had set. He chose the latter. In the meantime, hundreds of motorcycles had halted before the finish line; no one wanted to do another lap.So after three hours and 10 minutes, a jubilant Potisek crossed the finish line with his first-ever Touquet win. Mouss took second place just 1 minute 15 seconds behind the leader, while Pierrick Paget (#38) rolled into third place on his Yamaha one lap behind the leader.The new Enduropale was an enormous success, both with the riders and the public (though due to the cold weather, there were only 200,000 spectators).Riders from France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Columbia, Switzerland, Australia, Austria, Luxembourg, Ireland, Sweden, the UK and Finland attended this race. Funny, there were no American riders in this top competition! Maybe next year...Contributor Mike Werner runs an interesting Europeon-based blog, www.motorbiker.org.