2016 Dakar Preview
The 2016 edition of Dakar is rapidly approaching. After the 2015 Dakar race, it didn’t take long for the teams to get started preparing for this year’s race. Peugeot and Toyota are coming in with new redesigned cars. Robby Gordon, Peugeot and Toyota have all added another car and driver this year. Mini has entered 12 vehicles; two more than 2015. This year looks to be one of the most competitive in recent years. Can anyone stop last years winner Al-Attiyah this year? We look at some of the changes for the teams.
The 2016 Dakar route will only go through two countries this year because Peru withdrew from the race after storms destroyed a lot of the race course. The decision was made to spend the money on the infrastructure and rebuilding rather than the race. Most of the Dakar route will be in Argentina, the elevation of the stages in Bolivia (altiplano) will add an element of extreme altitude that the drivers will have to deal with.
We have several Americans in Dakar for 2016: Robby Gordon(Team Speed), Sheldon Creed(Team Speed), Ricky Brabec(Team HRC), Ian Blythe(Rally Pan Am), Alexander Smith(Husqvarna Rally Raid), Carroll Gittere(Husqvarna Rally Raid) and Scott Bright(Rally Pan Am) will all be representing the stars and stripes in both cars and on bikes.
Photo courtesy of Rally Pan Am
Robby Gordon has added a second Gordini this year piloted by 18 year old Sheldon Creed. Sheldon is the youngest competitor to race Dakar but he is no rookie behind the wheel. Creed is the current Stadium Super Truck Champion and the Gordini he’ll pilot just so happens to be based off the SST platform. Robby tested all year to make sure the little bugs that hurt him last race do not repeat this year.
Mini All4 Racing/ X Raid, with reigning Dakar champion Nasser Al- Attiyah, will have 12 Minis racing this year. Krysztof Holowczyc, who finished third in 2015, will not be back this year but Nani Roma and Orlando Terranova both of whom had some great stage finishes in 2015 are ready. Mini looks to have made some minor changes to the overall looks of the vehicle but anything else they did isn’t being talked about. Mini has also added the very talented Mikko Hirvonen to the list of drivers this year. His co-driver is Michel Perin who has won the Dakar four times, last being in 2014 with driver Nani Roma.
Photo Courtesy of Red Bull
Peugeot is coming into 2016 with a completely redesigned car that is wider and longer than the car they debuted in 2015. They have also added a fourth car and driver to the mix. With an impressive list of names like Carlos Sainz “El Matador”, Stephane Peterhansel “Mister Dakar”, Sebastian Loeb and Cyril Despres (who has racked up an impressive five victories in motorcycle in 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013), how can Peugot not be a threat for the overall win. The Peugeot car was built for the dunes and desert style terrain of Peru which has been excluded from the race this year. We will see how it affects their overall finishes.
Photo Courtesy of Red Bull
Toyota Gazoo Racing SA Team has added Yazeed Al Rajhi to their team this year after he campaigned a privately-entered Toyota Hilux during the 2015 Dakar Rally. He was running in third place until a problem forced him to withdraw. Yazeed joins Giniel de Villiers, who finished in second place in 2015 and Leeroy Poulter. It’s possible that Toyota may be the team that can dethrone Al-Attiyah and Mini in 2016. The Toyotas are running a new Lexus RC-F V-8 engine and transmission this year along with suspension and electronic changes. The Hilux also got new bodywork to resemble a new bodystyle set to debut for the 2016 model.
Guerlain Chicherit X-Raid/Jefferies Zebra buggy needs to be mentioned in this article for one reason, the guy has heart. He was considered out of the race a handful of times last year and always made it to the start line the next day with a “never say die” attitude. It was great to watch. This year from some social media posts they appear to have made some changes to the car, but that is not confirmed. The X-Raid team is no longer Monster Energy supported but Guerlain himself is wearing the “M” on his helmet as a Monster Athlete. He is also being supported by Toyo Tires. Hopefully he can avoid the fires and issues that stopped him from having better results in 2015.
2015 Zebra Theme
For the 2016 edition of the Dakar, Toyota has been appointed as the official vehicle supplier to the race. This means that all the supporting staff and crew of the organization will be driving Toyota products.
Race-Dezert.com will be covering the race from the ground in South America once again partnering with Toyo Tires. Stay glued to the front page for the latest stories and press releases, and also keep up with the latest happenings on the message board, we have fans from all over the world contributing to the Dakar threads. Robby Gordon’s guys at Planet Robby will also be posting a lot of great info and updates on Robby and Sheldon’s progress.