The adventure began in 1977. Thierry Sabine got lost on his motorcycle in the Libyan desert during the Abidjan-Nice rally. “Rescued from the sands” in extremis, he returned to France defeated by these dreamlike landscapes. He then promised himself that he would share this discovery with as many as possible and lived for a single goal: take a maximum number of people into the immensity of this sand. This led him to imagine an extraordinary journey originating in Europe. The route would then continue to Algiers before crossing Agadez and ultimately leading to Dakar. The plan quickly became a reality. The Paris-Dakar rally opened up an unknown world, one in which its creator, Thierry Sabine, was seen as a true pioneer. His motto then would be: “A challenge for those who go. A dream for those who stay behind.” Africa, a multi-faceted continent, in fact offered the perfect elixir, combining dreams with the world of competition. On 26 December 1978, the first ParisDakar took off from the Place du Trocadéro. That was 40 years ago…
After it was first inspired by Thierry Sabine, the Dakar went from strength to strength in Africa for 30 years before moving over to South America, its host for almost 10 years now. It has switched continents and grown in size, but has always remained faithful to the concept of its founder.The unique place held by the Dakar in the sporting world has been carried along year after year, spanning generations, in spite of the dramas it has faced. It is our challenge to perpetuate and underline the uniqueness of this event by finding the perfect balance between cutting-edge modernity and loyalty to a glorious past. This celebratory 2018 edition is a perfect opportunity to do exactly that. The Dakar’s return to Peru is a poignant reminder that, six years ago, a new chapter in the race’s history opened when it added a 27th country to its record, closely followed by its first visits to Bolivia and Paraguay. This years Rally Dakar led the participants along the west coast of the South American continent. Starting in Lima / Peru and then led via La Paz through Bolivia to Argentina. The destination was in Córdoba. On the way loops led the drivers up-country.
541 competitors and 334 vehicles —137 motorbikes, 26 quads, 130 cars (including 30 SxS) and 41 trucks— were cleared to start the 41st edition of the Dakar at the end of the technical and administrative scrutineering.
Before the start of the race, the drivers, riders and crews will get a big send-off from the fans during the podium ceremony in Lima. The celebration will take place on Magdalena beach, where over 100,000 visitors flocked to enjoy a wide range of activities in the Feria Dakar over the last three days.
Unsurprisingly, in light of the lead Nassal Al-Attiyah had going into the last stage, he won his third Dakar in Pisco with his car. The Qatari was Twelfth to finish 9’ behind Carlos Sainz at the finish of the last special and offers Toyota its first victory in the car category.
Three years after becoming the first Australian winner of the Dakar on a motocycle, Toby Price has triumphed again, fighting against the increasing pain caused by a scaphoid injury that was not quite healed before the start of the rally.
Despite a lead of almost two hours over his countryman Jeremías González Ferioli, the argentinean Nicolas Cavigliasso completed the rally at full throttle to pick up a ninth victory with his quad.
The Russian truck driver Eduard Nikolaev won his fourth Dakar in Lima following on from his titles obtained in 2013, 2017 and 2018.
Joan Barreda set the stopwatches buzzing on the opening stage of the Dakar by putting a significant distance for such a short stage (84 km) between himself and his closest pursuer Pablo Quintanilla: 1’34’’. It brought him the 23rd victory in his career on the rally, while Argentinean Nicolás Cavigliasso opened up an even bigger gap, of almost 4 minutes, over his countryman Jeremías González Ferioli. In the car category, Nasser Al Attiyah began with a win, like last year, on the special between Lima and Pisco, bringing his roll of honour to 32 stage victories and leaving him behind only Ari Vatanen (with 50) and Stéphane Peterhansel (41). The Qatari driver will start the second stage with a lead of 1’59’’ over Carlos Sainz. In the SxS race, the title holder reminded the newcomers just who the boss of the category is, with the stage victory going to Reinaldo Varela in front of Chaleco López. The situation was similar in the truck race, with the stage won by Eduard Nikolaev in his Kamaz, but only 18 seconds ahead of Dutchman Ton Van Genugten.
After caution the day before, Sébastien Loeb unleashed his talent to let the lion on his Peugeot 3008 roar this Tuesday on the long special finishing in San Juan de Marcona. The man from Alsace did not make the slightest mistake and held out against the amazing comeback by Nani Roma, who was timed at just 8 seconds behind Loeb on the finishing line. In 4th place, Giniel de Villiers took command of the general standings in which Stéphane Peterhansel plummeted downwards after losing almost 20 minutes stuck in a dune. Such difficulties were brilliantly negotiated by Chaleco López for only his second stage in an SxS, allowing him to add to the excellent roll of honour (3rd overall in 2013 and 2014) which he started on a bike, 5 years after his last appearance on the Dakar. Matthias Walkner can also already boast an improved victory count. The Austrian was faithful to his role as title holder and beat Ricky Brabec at the death by just 22 seconds at the end of a superb duel between the two men throughout the stage. In 3rd, Joan Barreda still leads the general standings. In the quad race, the same classification is heavily dominated by Nicolás Cavigliasso thanks to the Argentinean rider’s second successive stage win. In the truck race, there were also two stage wins in a row, as Eduard Nikolaev triumphed again behind the wheel of his Kamaz.
Arequipa, the second most populous city in Peru, lies at the foot of the Misti volcano and, although today’s special took place somewhere else, the Dakar saw an eruption turn the various classifications on their heads. Today, the competitors raced far to the north, in the Duna Grande and Duna Argentina areas near San Juan de Marcona, before moving higher (2,000 masl) in the Cobrepampa region, where fiendish navigation put paid to the hopes of Joan Barreda. Later on, sections of fesh-fesh put handling skills to the test in the third part of the stage, which alternated between fast stretches and the Acarí dunes.
Beaten right at the finish yesterday, Ricky Brabec reacted like a champion on the route to Moquegua, handing out a veritable lesson to his rivals. At a faster pace than all the rest all along the 351 km of the special, the American produced a master stroke to bring the second stage victory of his career on the Dakar and take the lead in the general standings. The trio of official KTMs limited the damage with Walkner, Price and Sunderland finishing in that order behind the winner, while Pablo Quintanilla and Xavier de Soultrait crawled to the finish more than 20 minutes later. Big gaps were also opened up in the car category thanks to a feisty duel between Nasser Al-Attiyah and Stéphane Peterhansel, which this time tipped in favour of the Toyota driver. The Qatari strengthened his leadership of the general standings ahead of the Frenchman, whilst things are moving in the SxS category with the first victory of Sergey Karyakin, who is getting stronger with every stage, to such an extent that he is now race leader. Normal service was resumed in the quad race via the third success out of four stages for the Argentinean favourite Nicolás Cavigliasso. As for the trucks, Andrey Karginov played cat and mouse with Martin Macík before eventually grabbing his second consecutive stage win and climbing to second place in the general standings.
On completion of the first 5 stages that have brought the riders, drivers and crews to Arequipa, there are still 247 vehicles left in the race on the 41st edition of the Dakar (105 bikes, 18 quads, 93 cars, including 24 SxS, and 32 trucks), which is the lowest number of participants left at the mid-way point since 2007 (74%).
For the survivors of this demanding route, the bikers have been dominated by young American Ricky Brabec, who is holding the hopes of Honda to bring the domination of KTM on the event to a close. In the car race, on the contrary a trio of experienced drivers, made up of Nasser Al Attiyah, Stéphane Peterhansel and Nani Roma, stand out from the rest, among which can be found Sébastien Loeb, who has won two stages.
The stage on which the rally resumes, between Arequipa and San Juan de Marcona, promises to be the theatre of a formidable battle, with the major test of the Tanaka dunes at the beginning. The way back to Lima holds in store another festival of sand.
Pablo Quintanilla recharged during the rest day in Arequipa and scored a double whammy on the road to San Juan de Marcona. The Husqvarna rider attacked from the get-go and claimed his first stage win since the start in Lima after a nail-biting duel with Kevin Benavides. It was also good enough for him to seize the overall lead from Ricky Brabec, who finished 7 minutes down. Matthias Walkner, Toby Price and Adrien van Beveren all remain within striking distance, unlike in the car category, where the gaps are much bigger. Sébastien Loeb is smiling again. He came out on top today after taming the same dunes of Tanaka that knocked him out of the race last year, even though he did not manage to shake off a rock-solid Nasser Al-Attiyah. The Qatari put in another impeccable performance to keep a lead of more than 37 minutes over the man from Alsace. At the other end of things, Stéphane Peterhansel lost time again and fell to third place. Meanwhile, Nicolás Cavigliasso maintained his iron grip on the quad race with his fifth stage win in six stages. The Argentinian made short work of his competitors, while “Chaleco” López flew the flag for Chile with his second triumph in the SxS category. Gerard Farrés and Sergey Karyakin are emerging as the most serious contenders for the overall. Finally, Siarhei Viazovich left the rest of the field in the dust, but the truck classification remains unchanged.
Sam Sunderland’s participation in the 2019 Dakar has been a roller coaster, but today he reached new heights on the 323 km loop around San Juan de Marcona. The 2017 champion claimed his second stage win and moved up the general classification, while Ricky Brabec capitalised on Pablo Quintanilla’s sub-par performance to take back the overall lead. Adrien Van Beveren is still banking on a consistent approach, just like car leader Nasser Al-Attiyah, who drove conservatively and conceded 12 minutes to the winner. The Qatari has almost half an hour over the nearest competitor in the general classification and no need to take risks, unlike Stéphane Peterhansel, who got another taste of victory thanks in no small part to Sébastien Loeb’s misfortune. The Peugeot 3008 driver was much faster than his rivals, but it was all to no avail after losing 40 minutes to an electrical problem shortly after the start. Meanwhile, Nicolás Cavigliasso had another triumphal parade on his Yamaha quad and continues to rack up one stage after the other. He now leads the rally by 1 h 15. Cavigliasso’s virtually unprecedented dominance stands in stark contrast with the SxS category, where every day brings something different. “Chaleco” López took the spoils today, beating new overall leader Reinaldo Varela by a whopping 22 minutes. Finally, Gerard de Rooy staged an impressive comeback in the truck category to grab his second triumph in a row, but Eduard Nikolayev rode out the storm to defend the overall lead. The Dutchman put over half an hour into Siarhei Viazovich, pulling off a stunning coup and zeroing in on the Kamaz overall leader.