Get to know the offroad racers preparing to do battle with the 2019 Dakar Rally
Tuesday, November 27
The assembled Red Bull Desert Wings squad for the 2019 Dakar Rally boast over 30 previous wins at the prestigious offroad marathon. These desert racers are aiming to chase down even more success when the next edition of the Dakar sets off from Lima, Peru on January 6.
With race organisers Amaury Sport Organisation unleashing the official route today, nobody is in any doubt that we’re in for a classic. For the first time since its inception in 1978, the rally will be hosted by a single country. That honour has fallen to Peru, which in turn has been able to provide a route which will see more dunes than ever before featured in a South American edition of the Dakar.
The Dakar route in 2019 will take the convoy of competitors on a 5,000-kilometre loop around Peru, starting and finishing in Lima. There will be a total of 3,000 kilometres of racing against the clock, divided between 10 special stages. 70 percent of the terrain to be tackled will be sand. The all important marathon stage will take place on days four and five in the Arequipa region of Peru.
Eager to start racing on the sands of Peru are the all new X-raid MINI JCW Team. Despite being a new entry, this team contains the driving talents of all-star trio Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA), Carlos Sainz (ESP) and Cyril Despres (FRA). This threesome have 20 Dakar wins between them and will be pushing their MINI John Cooper Works Buggies for more glory in January.
“We’re preparing ourselves for tough days at the rally. Always at the Dakar you need to be ready for everything at all times and I think this will be especially true in Peru.”– Carlos Sainz
Looking to get in front at the Dakar will be a pair of experienced desert racers who also know what it feels like to win the top prize in their sport. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT), a two-time winner, and Giniel de Villiers (RSA), victor at the first Dakar in South America, will both be driving a Toyota Hilux in Peru. These two have 14 Dakar car race podium finishes between them – they know how to get the job done.
There’s a palpable ripple of excitement in the Dakar bivouac over the return of nine-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb (FRA). The recent Rally Catalunya winner will return to the Dakar behind the wheel of a Peugeot 3008DKR as part of a privateer project.
After a solid career on two-wheels, Kuba Przygoński (POL) is making his mark on four wheels. As the recently crowned FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup winner, expectation is building around the ORLEN X-raid Team driver and the MINI John Cooper Works Rally he will be steering in Peru.
“Personally, I have my sights set on a podium finish but I’m also aware that one mistake at the Dakar can undo all your plans.”– Kuba Przygoński
Our focus in the truck race will centre on the Blue Armada of Team Kamaz Master. The Russians have won eight Dakar truck races since the rally moved to South America 10 years ago. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) has driven his way to three of those victories and will be looking to lead his team-mates Ayrat Mardeev (RUS), Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) and Andrey Karginov (RUS) into battle in Peru once again.
“We’ve been working hard all year to make our truck powerful, fast, lightweight and perfectly reliable.”– Vladimir Chagin, Team Kamaz Master captain
“We always know that the rally organisers are going to push us to the limit at the Dakar. I’m just happy to have a great team in my corner, doing everything they can to help us bring home the result we want.”– Toby Price
Elsewhere we’ll be keeping our eyes on Ignacio Casale (CHI). A win on his Yamaha Raptor 700 in 2018 gave Casale his second quad title. Now the Chilean has taken up a new challenge and will compete in the UTV category at the upcoming Dakar. Casale’s countryman Chaleco Lopez (CHI) will also compete in the UTV category in 2019, racing a Can Am Brand SSV.
“After winning the quad race twice, in 2014 and 2018, I received the offer from Yamaha to compete in the UTV category. This has given me lots of new motivation for the next edition of the Dakar.”– Ignacio Casale
So now we know who will be racing and the route they will be racing on. It’s just a few short weeks until the offroad action roars into life in Peru. We’ll be bringing you all the drama from the world’s toughest test of motorsports endurance as it happens.
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Carlos Sainz: “It looks like we’re going to have quite a lot of sand. Every Dakar stage I have raced in Peru has been extremely demanding. We’re preparing ourselves for tough days at the rally. Always at the Dakar you need to be ready for everything at all times and I think this will be especially true in Peru. We’re going to a country that has all the ingredients you need to make an exciting edition of the Dakar”
Nasser Al-Attiyah: “We’re ready to race on this challenging course in Peru. To me, the new version of the Toyota Hilux is probably the best race car I have ever driven. It can handle the tough stuff we’ll find in Peru without any problems, and it just keeps getting better with each evolution.”
Kuba Przygoński: “It seems like the Dakar will be as unpredictable as ever with the route we have in front of us. Personally, I have my sights set on a podium finish but I’m also aware that one mistake at the Dakar can undo all your plans.”
Vladimir Chagin, Team Kamaz Master captain: “There are strong rivals for us now in the truck category. The race can be decided by just a few minutes, or even just seconds. We’ve been working hard all year to make our truck powerful, fast, lightweight and perfectly reliable.”
Toby Price: “To win the World Championship last month has given us great momentum going into this next Dakar. We always know that the rally organisers are going to push us to the limit at the Dakar. I’m just happy to have a great team in my corner, doing everything they can to help us bring home the result we want.”
CS Santosh: “Earlier this year I raced the Inca Rally in Peru and it was a good experience for me. I had a good run through the stages and got a flavour of how the terrain will be at the Dakar. The Dakar is going to be a couple of intense weeks and I’m looking forward to it.”
Ignacio Casale: “This is my 10th participation in the Dakar Rally so I wanted to do something special. Something a bit different. After winning the quad race twice, in 2014 and 2018, I received the offer from Yamaha to compete in the UTV category. This has given me lots of new motivation for the next edition of the Dakar.”