The amazing journey that only the Dakar rally provides has come to an end. Thousands of miles and thousands of stories will live in the memories of those who lived the rally. This year the rally was mostly dominated by each manufacturer in their category. KTM got the entire 1-2-3 podium in bikes, Yamaha did the same in quads, Peugeot and Polaris as well in cars and utv’s. However in trucks, Kamaz took the 1-2 while Gerard De Rooy broke the harmony getting the 3rd place.
CHILECITO > SAN JUAN – 751 KM (466 miles)
Coast clear for Peterhansel!
Joan Barreda obtained his third stage victory this year following a time penalty received by Michael Metge, but this change in the situation still leaves Sam Sunderland untroubled and more than ever leader of the bike category. Stéphane Peterhansel also picked up his third stage win since the start and regained the lead in the general standings.
After another stage canceled, the action restarted and this is when experienced drivers like Peterhansel started to push hard to gain precious minutes for the general standings. Peterhansel, after hitting a quad racer and staying with him while waiting for assistances (kudos for that!), won the stage with a lead of 6 minutes before his teammate and WRC legend, Seb Loeb.
Once again on top form, Joan Barreda picked up his 4th stage victory but wasn’t able to prevent Sam Sunderland from winning his first title on the Dakar. The title was also out of reach for Sébastien Loeb who also won his fourth special, but who was unable to shake the supremacy that Stéphane Peterhansel exercises over the rally.
Loeb, after incredibly bad luck, had his first flat tire of the rally. He managed to win the stage but only 18 seconds ahead of Peterhansel who leads the rally with more than 5 minutes.
RÍO CUARTO > BUENOS AIRES – 786 KM (488 miles)
Sam Sunderland took his first Dakar win in Buenos Aires after two failed attempts in previous years, ensuring the trophy stays with the official KTM team. Stéphane Peterhansel defended his crown at the wheel of an awe-inspiring Peugeot and wrote yet another chapter in the history of the Dakar.
Another Dakar rally on the books and Peterhansel is once again the winner with Sebastian Loeb second and Cyril Despres third. Peugeot must be really happy. This is what the champions said at the finish line:
Car category, Peterhansel (Peugeot): “It was still up in the air before the start of the race. The internal competition was fierce and there were, in all, seven or eight drivers with a shot at victory. Halfway through the race there were only four left, and by the final week it was just Sébastien and me. It was a high-stakes duel, we went fast. I’d like to thank Peugeot for providing us with awesome cars and, especially, for not issuing team orders, which is a great show of fair play because it puts us all on an even footing. We were fighting against a super-fast champion who knows how to race from the lead and isn’t easily impressed. Yesterday, it was decided by a flat tyre, and that was probably the turning point in this Dakar. My strategy was to push Sébastien to his limits. This made him more likely to make mistakes, which he eventually did, so it’s not a matter of luck.”
Bike category, Sam Sunderland (KTM): “Unbelievable, unbelievable… When I crossed the line I felt all the emotion hit me. Now I’m ok but it’s a really overwhelming feeling. The weight on my shoulders of the race over the last week, leading the rally has been really heavy. To finish here is incredible. It’s the first Dakar I’ve ever finished and to finish first is an incredible feeling. I’m really lost for words. I’m so grateful to everybody – to the team, to the organisers, to all the people around me because it’s not an individual effort. Everybody that’s here has a part in this victory. I’m so grateful and I’m really happy. It’s been difficult, especially in some of the moments with navigation mistakes or when things get stressful, to stay calm. It’s been really the most difficult thing to do, but we’re here, we did it and I couldn’t be any happier. It’s incredible to be the first Englishman. Hopefully we can create some English interest now, because so far they’ve not been reporting much, but I hope we can change that”.
Truck category, Eduard Nikolaev (Kamaz):”These two weeks were very hard. The Dakar is a marathon and we have no choice but to dose our energy throughout the stages. We managed to get stronger and stronger, whereas other teams started losing time. Our team’s management is outstanding. Vladimir Chagin taught us to be so fast.”
Photo credit: ASO