Having reviewed the courses over the past couple of stages, I'm noticing there are fewer opportunities for shortcuts compared to previous years. Though I haven't done a 100% thorough job of it, I have yet to see a single shortcut that would be of much value. ASO seems to be using more WPMs and WPSs than in the past, forcing competitors to stick to the designated course. And now with the possible stricter enforcement of the "no unauthorized notes" rule, I think the top teams have much less mapman enabled advantage than they used to have. The mapman is still allowed (no rule against it), and virtual review of the course with Google Earth is still possible, so there is still an advantage, but I like the direction things are going now! It's a much more level playing field, if everyone follows the rules.
Here is the Stage 3 course, with all the course control points shown. That's a lot of points!
Loeb/Elena will not be back next year according to Elena FB page
A mistake in the road book make them lost about 20 minutes, they have complain at dakar, but they didn't ajust de time, so Elena have said on FB if they go back in raid it will be in the Africa Eco Race
I don't know if RG himself would race them again, especially in the car class. It would not surprise me though if he brought some SXS and drivers to race them in the SXS Class/s and supported them as a team. I really hope he is able to develop a real car which is able to compete again eventually. I think they can develop it in the states, but I think it will require racing it for a full season in either BITD/SCORE along with a lot of $$$ Time will tell