The Dakar: Faster, higher, stronger22 january 2013, 01:15
The most prestigious transcontinental cross-country rally Dakar-2013 kicked off on January 5 and finished on January 20. The route crossed three countries: Peru, Argentina and Chile.
Kazakhstan started with 4 crew. Its greatest hopes were bestoled on Artur Ardavichus who won the third place in the last year's Dakar. But in the end only one of the four crews got to the finish line.
Kazakhstan's Bauyrzhan Issabayev - Dmitriy Yugai crew on Toyota Bowler finished 63rd in the overall. This was their first Dakar and even the fact that they broke through were western Dakar veterans failed and made it to the finish line makes Kazakhstan proud of them.
The crew of Bauyrzhan Issabayev and Dmitriy Yugai. Photo courtesy of RaceFace Sports Media Syndicate
Stage 10: Cordoba – La Rioja
The masters of the handlebars and the steering wheel were most at ease when faced with the challenge of the day. Although the cars and trucks were separated from the motorcycles, their respective programs had similar features. Winding tracks were interspersed with fast ones, as the competitors passed through a succession of landscapes from wooded areas to barren plateaux. The whole setting reminded the most open-minded participants of Ireland in some places!
On completion of a superb battle with the title holder, Joan Barreda picked up his 4th stage victory on the 2013 edition, 1'15 ahead of Cyril Despres. In the general standings, the Frenchman took regained command ahead of his team-mate Ruben Faria, who finished the day in 8th place. In the car category, Argentinean Orlando Terranova won his 1st stage victory, while Stephane Peterhansel, who came in 3rd, again increased his lead at the top of the general standings.
Stage 10 Rankings:
Quote of the stage: “It's good, but it's never finished in the Dakar. One day you stay on the top, the next day you are in the shit, you know? We need to continue like we are doing now. The team is very happy and me too. Now I'm starting again in my position. Tomorrow is a complete change from today. It's Fiambala. But the road is long, it's far to Santiago and we need to continue to push. It's very good. I'm continuing pushing and the guys in front of me, Novitskiy and De Villiers, need to continue pushing too.” – Joan (Nani) Roma (Car)
Dakar 2013 – Stage 10 – Car/Bike Summary
Stage 11: La Rioja – Fiambala
It is very rare for nothing to happen in Fiambalа! And in 2012 rain ensured that this lethal white sand remained firm, allowing the vehicles of the Dakar to pass through this prime spot for getting blocked and for engines to overheat, without recoiling or stalling. These dunes with their very welcoming contours typically have a very unpleasant surprise in store for competitors.
Although the 11th special was again affected by the weather, American Kurt Caselli obtained a 2nd stage victory on the Dakar, whilst general standings leader Cyril Despres further increased his lead. In the car race, the special was stopped after only 53 km, following flash flooding that prevented the competitors from crossing a river on the route of the stage. This was a Godsend for Robby Gordon who picks up his 1st win on the Dakar 2013 as a result, whilst in the truck race De Rooy should be granted the victory. The situation has not led to any changes in the general standings, with Peterhansel and Nikolaev still leading their respective categories.
Stage 11 Rankings:
Quote of the stage: “We went through plenty of dry river beds, so by the end, my goggles were dirty. There was a point where it was a little bit deeper and I fell. It was 50 kilometres from the end of the special, around the 180-km point. I banged my shoulder. I'll have a look at it at the bivouac this evening but it's really painful. We'll have to see if I can carry on. I fell because of the mud and my dirty goggles. I don't know what's wrong with my shoulder but it's really painful.” – Joan Barreda Bort (Bike)
Dakar 2013 – Stage 11 – Car/Bike Summary
Dakar 2013 – Stage 10/11 – Truck/Quad Summary
Stage 12: Fiambala – Copiapo
This time the competitors crossed the Andes Cordillera from east to west, by the Paso San Francisco, and returned to the Atacama Desert to experience every kind of difficulty that existed in a long-distance rally. The major sections of dunes were situated right in the center of the special stage: the participants had to climb the “cathedral” dunes and avoid entering the basins which were just as big. It wasn’t any easier on the tracks, where rocks and stones, despite being scattered around, could immediately bring the fastest of them to a halt.
On a 12th special stage marked by the joint strategy of general standings leader Cyril Despres and his provisional runner-up and team-mate, Ruben Faria, Dutchman Frans Verhoeven picked up his 4th stage victory on the Dakar and his first since 2011. In the general standings, Despres and Faria are solidly installed in the first two places ahead of “Chaleco” Lopez. The situation is almost identical in the car category, where Stéphane Peterhansel is focused on protecting his lead. Despite a small scare after grinding to a halt in the dunes, the Frenchman has a comfortable lead in the general on completion of the special won by Nani Roma.
Stage 12 Rankings:
Quote of the stage: “It was supposed to be a good day, but after about 15 or 20 minutes we already got a puncture. We went down a hill and we couldn't avoid a big rock. Yeah, it was stupid, but the rest went great. We didn't have any problems in the dunes. On the last part at one point we were on two wheels, so I think some people are going to have beautiful pictures. But for the rest, well that's the way it was for the rest. We're going to have to push full on and wait for the others to have problems. Today you could get a lot of punctures. We had one and we only lost six minutes, I think, on Loprais, so we'll have to wait and see. But for sure, we have to push for the next few days. For the first place the gap is one hour so that's going to be difficult, but anything can happen – they can have the same problems as I did. Second place and third place are half an hour in front, so two tyre changes is half an hour. Realistically, second or third is possible, but first is difficult, though we never give up trying.” – Gerard de Rooy (Truck)
Dakar 2013 – Stage 12 – Car/Bike Summary
Dakar 2013 – Stage 12 – Truck/Quad Summary
Stage 13: Copiapo – La Serena
The schedule has taken the meteorological characteristics of the area into account. The “Camanchaca” was very dense during the first part of the morning. The sandy part, where an attack was still feasible, represents a third of the special stage. To discover the end of the stage, the competitors had to head south, on wide tracks which could nevertheless conceal stones which could shatter dreams.
The 13th stage was the day before the finish in Santiago. "Chaleco" Lopez put in a first-class performance between Copiapo and La Serena to pick up his 4th stage victory in 2013 and more importantly to move into the 2nd place in the general standings at the expense of Ruben Faria. It was also show-time in the car category thanks to Robby Gordon, who won his 2nd stage in 2013, just in front of Guerlain Chicherit. This was not enough to worry Peterhansel, who still remained an unmovable leader of the general standings, 44'38” ahead of De Villiers.
Stage 13 Rankings:
Quote of the stage: “At the end the stage was really, really good. We started 29th this morning and finished 2nd so it's really not too bad… We had so much dust at the beginning, so that's where we lost a lot of time. This morning when we started we didn't expect to finish in the top 5, so to be 2nd tonight just 22 seconds behind Robby is really good, especially because we will have a really good start for tomorrow morning for the last stage. So, with Robby and I, I think it's going to be really good show tomorrow.” – Guerlain Chicherit (Car)
Dakar 2013 – Stage 13 – Car/Bike Summary
Stage 14: La Serena – Santiago
To reach the Chilean capital, the heroes of the 2013 Dakar still had to remain focused on the amazing fast tracks, where the pleasure of driving went hand in hand with their sense of accomplishment. After the journey on the road, the drivers were expected on a show course a few kilometers long, where they wwere be able to delight spectators by performing skids and jumps. This was a foretaste of the highly emotional ceremony which was organized the next day facing the Palacio de La Moneda, on the Plaza
de la Constitucion.
Frenchman Cyril Despres took his fifth Dakar after finishing 17th in the 14th stage and last stage of the 2013 edition, won by Chilean Francisco "Chaleco" López, which puts him on par with Cyril Neveu in the race's palmarès and just one win away from Stéphane Peterhansel's record. He can also pride himself on the fact that he helped his Portuguese lieutenant Ruben Faria onto the second step of the podium, rounding off a historic double for the KTM Red Bull Rally Factory Team. The car race saw another Frenchman celebrate his fifth win... on four wheels. Stéphane Peterhansel was crowned in Santiago, broke Ari Vatanen's record for most wins in the car category and raised to 11 the bar for most Dakar victories overall.
Stage 14 Rankings:
Quote of the stage: “It hasn't sunk in yet! I'm full of emotions because, after fighting minute by minute, second by second, throughout fifteen days of racing, I've finally made it, I've won the Dakar. It's simply incredible! I'm on cloud nine. For me, it's a dream come true, a dream which began five years ago when I got into a racing Kamaz for the first time as a mere mechanic. I dreamed of winning this rally someday and I did it! I still can't believe it happened!” – Eduard Nikolaev (Truck)
Dakar 2013 – Stage 14 – Car/Bike Summary
Winner Interview Peterhansel/Despres – Car/Bike
With 52 nationalities on the start line of the 35th edition in Lima, a record for any event other than the Olympic Games or the Commonwealth Games, the "Rally Raid Olympics" seem more feasible than ever.
124 motorcycle riders, 26 quad drivers, 89 car crews and 60 car crews paraded on the podium set up opposite Santiago's Palacio de la Moneda to celebrate their arrival in the Chilean capital. With 14 days of racing and over 8,000 kilometers under their belts, 67% (299/449) of the vehicles on the start list in Lima made it to the finish.
In the main, it was the defending champions who survived all the unexpected turns of events to dominate the race, with Cyril Despres making it five in the motorcycle category and Stéphane Peterhansel taking his fifth victory in a car after being crowned in Lima last year. Marcos Patronelli won for the second time in the quad category, on the back of his brother Alejandro's triumph last year. Only one of the champions is a first-time winner: Eduard Nikolaev from Russia, who took the truck title.
Motorcycles: Despres and Faria, a dynamic duo
The favorite lived up to the expectations. Cyril Despres took his fifth Dakar win in what was his 12th start, writing another glorious page in the history of the sport and catching up with Cyril Neveu in the palmarès of his category. The Frenchman is now one step away from equaling the record for the most victories on a motorcycle, held by none other than Stéphane Peterhansel. But his triumph in the 2013 edition also taught him a lot about the difficulty of the future challenges awaiting him. His victory was based on the traditional ingredients: a strong physical and technical performance, good navigational skills and a feeling for the race. But it also drew upon a series of circumstances, not coincidences, which he couldn't have possibly foreseen. The defending champion was on the defensive throughout the first week, with the Yamahas in the limelight. His chances seemed to be in danger halfway throughout the marathon stage, raced over two days with a pause in an isolated bivouac in Cachi, which he reached in 5th place overall, a failing engine and the prospect of a 15-minute penalty for swapping engines with Pole Marek Dabrowski.
Cyril Despres kept his cool and rose to the challenge from the very next day, when he avoided making the same navigational blunder as his main rivals. He swept away the competition in the stage to Córdoba, the longest one of this year's rally, where he benefitted from Casteu's withdrawal and Olivier Pain's little mistakes. The road to Santiago was clear and he now focused on helping his lieutenant and friend Ruben Faria onto the second step of the podium. Mission accomplished, once again after a few twists and turns, as KTM's Portuguese rider made the most of the mishaps plaguing Francisco López, who had to change his engine and give up his second place overall on the day before the finish due to the ensuing penalty.
The Yamahas showed they were capable of taking the fight to the KTMs, provided that they're able to polish the individual mistakes made by the two aforementioned ephemeral leaders of the general classification, but at the end of the day it was Chaleco who posed the greatest threat to the Despres-Faria duo. President Piñera's favorite was never in the overall lead, but he grabbed five stages, including bookend wins, and finished 3rd, a mere 18′48″ behind the champion. It was the closest Dakar podium since 2005, when Despres took his maiden win ahead of Marc Coma and Alfie Cox. And this despite getting a 15-minute penalty on the last day.
Chaleco had to control his hot temper in order to step on the podium of the Dakar for the second time in his career. A few of Despres' future rivals will have to do the same thing, such as Spain's Joan Barreda, who won four stages but only managed to finish 17th overall. American Kurt Caselli, a teammate of the defending champion at KTM, seems to be a fast learner after taking two stages in his first participation. Nevertheless, the best rookie trophy goes to South Africa's Riaan Van Niekerk, who finished 13th overall. Among the riders without assistance, Hugo Payen not only drove the naked girl on his number 69 motorcycle all the way Santiago without getting her too dirty, but he also did it with the best time in his category, 49th overall. Nevertheless, Laia Sanz was the only female rider to make it to the finish, in 93rd place. A special mention for Luis Belaustegui, who closes the motorcycle category but managed to complete the Dakar in this third attempt on a 150 cc KTM, after spending 60 hours more than Despres on the course. Hats off!
Dakar 2013 – Best of Bike
Cars: the buggies fight back but Peter prevails
Anyone taking a cursory look at the classification may think the 35th edition of the Dakar was a walk in the park for Stéphane Peterhansel, the unassailable overall leader from the 2nd stage and winner of an 11th Dakar counting all categories, a new record. But his 5th win in a car, which he took with a 42′22″ margin over Giniel de Villiers and 1 h 28′ over teammate Leonid Novitskiy, had more to do with the bad luck of his rivals than with the Mini's supremacy on the course. Peter won two stages, but he spent the first week fighting off the onslaughts of Nasser Al-Attiyah's buggy, and it was thanks to the Qatari's withdrawal in stage 9 that he was able to spend the second week managing his comfortable buffer over the South African, who'd made a costly navigational mistake in stage 3.
With a little push from the rule book, the two-wheel drive cars lit the fireworks in the 2013 Dakar and were rewarded with seven stage wins (three for Al-Attiyah, two for Robby Gordon and one each for Carlos Sainz and Guerlain Chicherit). Even though four-wheel drive cars, including three Minis and the Chinese Great Wall of the ever-consistent Portuguese driver Carlos Sousa (6th), took the top six places, this is to a great extent thanks to the reliability issues experienced by the buggies, which were clearly faster on the course. The last time there were three buggies in the final Top 10 was in 2000. Ronan Chabot's seventh place in Santiago is also the best overall performance by a two-wheel drive car since Robby Gordon finished third in 2009. Good enough for the Frenchman to defend his title in this category by 9′39″ on teammate Guerlain Chicherit.
The best rookie was Russian Vladimir Vasilyev, who finished 16th overall with his G-Force prototype, 11 places higher than the Toyota Land Cruiser driven by Spaniard Xavier Foj, who won his 2nd straight title in the Production category by 13′09″ on Frenchman Nicolas Gibon. Finally, Dutchman Tim Coronel won the "solo" race again by finishing 55th overall, while Colombia's Martha Mariño was the only woman in the final classification, where she placed 86th.
Dakar 2013 – Best of Car
Quads: trouble brewing for Patronelli?
The field was stronger and more competitive than ever before in the short history of this category. With twelve nationalities on the start line, Marcos Patronelli's victory was nothing to sneeze at. The Argentinean followed in the footsteps of his older brother Alejandro (winner in 2011 and 2012, but absent from this edition) and took another win to go along with his triumph in 2010. The Patronellis extended their iron rule (with the younger brother winning four stages and taking the rally with 1 h 35′ to spare on runner-up Ignacio Casale, and 3 h 18′ on third-placed Rafa? Sonik), but the 35th edition also saw the rise of new players who proved their mettle from their Dakar debut. Among them, South African Van Biljon, Sebastian Husseini and Aussie Pal Smith, all of them stage winners, as well as Peruvian Ignacio Flores and Chileans Casale and Palma. A clear signal of the rise of new credible and unabashed competitors ready to challenge the Argentinean brothers. Could next year be a watershed moment?
Trucks: The Kamazs strike back
The 2013 edition saw the comeback of the Kamazs, which took their 11th win and, most importantly, pulled off a stunning 1-2-3 in Santiago with Russians Eduard Nikolaev, Ayrat Mardeev and Andrey Karginov! A nice gift for Vladimir Chagin in his first year as team manager. But the race wasn't dyed in the same deep blue hue as it was during the Tsar's reign. Champion Nikolaev was the first truck driver in the history of the rally to win the race without taking any stages and, all in all, the Russian juggernauts only won four, with defending champion Gerard de Rooy taking six. There's no doubt he was the fastest man on the course, but a broken turbo in the 9th stage put pain to his hopes. He lost an hour and was unable to claw it back, finishing in the fourth place, 4′19″ from the podium and just ahead of the two Tatras driven by Martin Kolomý and especially Aleš Loprais, his only rival in the early stages and ephemeral leader after stage 4, before a failing battery dashed his dreams of fighting for the top honors the very next day.
Dakar 2013 – Best of Truck/Quad
Bike 36 – Laia Sanz, experienced Dakar rider
She lived through the two faces of the Dakar this year. Having eased into some sort of routine following two consecutive 39th-place finishes in 2011 and 2012, she aimed higher for her third edition. A certain level of experience, an ability reflected in her multiple trial and enduro world championships and a stunning start to the rally (12th in the eighth stage) seemed to herald a Top 30 finish for the Catalan. "It all started to go wrong in the stage from Tucumán to Córdoba. An engine part broke down and my lieutenant Miguel Puertas had to tow me to the finish line." After reaching the bivouac very late (towards 5:30 am), the champion found herself face-to-face with the other side of the Dakar coin: "We planned to recuperate with Miguel in the next stage, to take it calmly and ease back into the race. So we decided to ride together. Thank goodness we did! It turned out the navigation unit had been damaged by the previous day's falls. It was another bad day at the office for us. I really came to think everything was lost. We slept six hours in two days. This is also the Dakar!" Laia Sanz plummeted down the classification but managed to finish 93rd after finding her pace again in the last four stages: "I'm happy because the entire team helped me to climb back to around the thirtieth place in the last few stages. This shows I have the potential to do better next year. But it's true that the field's got very strong. A host of new, very fast riders have come to the race. With what I know now, I could've finished in the Top 20 in 2011."
Laia Sanz. Photo courtesy of www.dakar.com
Car 306 – A big fright for Alvarez!
Due to a steering problem on the stage between Tucuman and Cordoba, the Argentineans Lucio Alvarez and Ronnie Graue had a big fright on exiting a bend at the end of the special… skidding off on a sharp turn, Toyota No. 306 purely and simply impaled itself on a dead tree. Two of its branches went through the windshield, scarcely leaving the driver and co-pilot the time to each throw themselves against the side windows. “It's a miracle, a miracle,” repeats Ronnie Graue, still in shock on arriving at the bivouac at the start of the evening. “The branch missed my head by no more than 10 centimetres! We we're really very lucky! I have to admit that ten minutes afterwards, I was still trembling about it”. However, this fright did not stop the Argentinean due from achieving the day's 10th best time, a major feat in the circumstances!
Lucio Alvarez. Photo courtesy of www.dakar.com
Bike 117 – Gardulski’s traditional Dakar birthday
With a first Dakar at the age of 24 and, according to her, “noboy willing to bet on my chances,” Josefina Gardulski has achieved her goal by tackling 9 stages of the rally. She finally had to call it a day on the Tucuman to Cordoba stage, whilst writing her name in the grand tradition of the event. “At the start of the stage, Axel (Heilencotter, No. 95) was having problems with his bike. When I offered to tow him, he said, ‘But there's still 800 km left!' I replied that the Dakar is first and foremost about helping each other out”. For almost three hours, this improbable convoy advanced, but then she had to face the facts: her companion in misery could not recover his bike. As a result, Josefina, 133rd in the general standings, set off on her own. Or at least she tried: a short circuit and resulting fire ruined her hopes of reaching the finish at the Place de la Moneda. At around 11 PM, after having been evacuated to the bivouac, she left the medical centre: “I'm very sad, but everything is ok. I'll come back stronger next year”. The team manager of Yamaha Chile then mentioned, “In one hour, it's her birthday”. Josefina Gardulski, 25 years and one day old now, is still part of the caravan, “to continue to learn and to help the riders in the team who are still in the race”. She's so young, but is already full of the Dakar spirit!
Josefina Gardulski. Photo courtesy of www.dakar.com
Dakar 2013 – Emotion – XtreM Adventure