Sam Sunderland of KTM 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. Saturday’s (January 14, 2017) 64km
timed special stage between Rio Cuarto and Buenos Aires concluded Dakar Rally
2017 and its 9,000km route through South America.
Meanwhile, Hero Motosports Team Rally
made motorsports history when it’s two riders, Joaquim Rodrigues and C.S
Santosh climbed up the finish ramp at the Automobile Club of Argentina,
ensuring that the Indian manufacturer attained the distinction of achieving 100
percent success in the iconic Dakar Rally in its debut appearance.
At just 64-km long and devoid
of major obstacles, the closing stage12 was just a formality before the long
liaison section (more than 700 km long) leading to the podium ceremony in
Buenos Aires. It was the final challenge for the Dakar survivors, who got a
hero’s welcome to the Argentinian capital.
Adrien Van Beveren and Gerard
Farrés were the last riders locked in a battle for a podium spot at the start
of stage 12. Tens of kilometres in which the two men gave it their all came to
nothing as they both finished with the exact same time. The Frenchman was
declared the official winner, while 27-year-old Sam Sunderland crowned his
rally-raid career with his maiden Dakar victory, finishing ahead of teammate
The first Briton to win the
Dakar, he claimed the rally ahead of KTM teammate Matthias Walkner
(+32'00") and Gerard Farrés (+35'40).
Sam Sunderland made history by
finishing the last special in sixth place to take the overall win. Both Sunderland and Walkner had never finished
the infamous rally before. The duo made up for Toby Price's abandon, their
teammate and defending champion who retired after crashing and breaking his leg
on Stage 4.
“It’s overwhelming,” admitted
Sunderland. “When I crossed the line, the emotion really took over. It’s taken
some time to change [from his motocross background], I’ve learned the hard way
like everybody. I kept fighting and never gave up and I’m really grateful for
all the people I have around me that have guided me. Everybody in the team has
worked so hard, they all deserve this victory,” he added.
Ignacio Casale of Yamaha won
the closing stage in the quad category, but Sergey Karyakin put in a commanding
performance throughout the rally to grab the overall win in Buenos Aires. Chilean
rider Casale claimed the closing stage, beating local boy Santiago Hansen by 52
seconds. This enabled him to take second place in the final general
classification (+1h14'51) behind Sergey Karyakin, the dominant winner of the
race, with Pablo Copetti in third (+4h20'19).
It was a well-known feeling for Stéphane
Peterhansel, who popped the champagne for the 13th time after a fierce two-week
battle with Sébastien Loeb, who claimed his fifth special today. The man from
Alsace came closer to his teammate this time round, but he was still unable to
loosen his iron grip on the category. Stéphane Peterhansel edged Sebastien Loeb
overall (+5'13) with their Team Peugeot Total teammate Cyril Despres in third
(+33'28). Three Frenchmen and three Peugeot 3008 DKRs occupied the podium, with
only Carlos Sainz missing after he crashed and was forced to retire during the
first week of racing.
Loeb did win Saturday’s short
stage 19 seconds ahead of the overall leader, with Giniel de Villiers, Toyota’s
South African driver, in third place (+0’30).
“We were fighting with six or
seven drivers at the beginning of the race and after a while, they were only
four,” said Peterhansel at the finish line. “And during the last week, we were
only two – just Seb and I. We fought really strongly and I am the winner in the
end – but it’s a small detail. This is the victory of experience," he noted.
Meanwhile, in the truck
category, Eduard Nikolaev restored Kamaz to its former glory and took his
second victory in South America ahead of teammate Dmitriy Sotnikov. Eduard
Nikolaev was already assured of winning his second Dakar but the Kamaz driver
confirmed his domination with another victory on Saturday. His teammate and
fellow Russian Dmitry Sotnikov (+18'58) gave
Kamaz the runner-up position in the general. Gerard de Rooy (Iveco) took the
third overall spot (+41'19).
Dakar legend: Stéphane Peterhansel was already a Dakar legend
thanks to his victory records in the motorcycle (6) and car (6) categories.
However, “Mr Dakar” is still hungry for more. He was once again resourceful
enough to see off Sébastien Loeb’s challenge and claim his 13th Dakar. For
perspective, Michael Schumacher won seven titles in Formula 1, Valentino Rossi
nine titles in Moto GP and teammate Sébastien Loeb nine in the WRC.
Quote of the day
Sam Sunderland: “Unbelievable.
When I crossed the line I felt all the emotion hit me. The weight on my
shoulders of the race over the last week, leading the rally has been really
heavy. It’s the first Dakar I’ve ever finished and to finish first is an
incredible feeling. I’m really lost for words.”
Landmark 1-2-3 glory for the PEUGEOT 3008DKR on 2017 Dakar Rally
The brand new PEUGEOT 3008DKRs
of Peterhansel/Cottret, Loeb/Elena and Despres/Castera completed the 2017 Dakar
Rally’s 9, 000-kilometre run through Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina on the top
three steps of the final podium in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The landmark
one-two-three result takes Peugeot’s score on the famous cross-country rally to
six outright victories and is ideally timed to coincide with the launch of the
new Peugeot 3008 SUV’s career across the world.
RED, WHITE AND BLUE
Thirty years after its initial
Dakar Rally success in 1987, Peugeot provided another demonstration of its
know-how with an assertive one-two-three finish on this year’s event in South
America. Peterhansel/Cottret, the most successful crew in the event’s history,
flew the French tricolour high and proud as they steered their Peugeot 3008DKR
over this year’s challenging route which included high-altitude running, tougher
navigation and appalling weather. The 2017 rally turned out to be a close,
drama-packed affair with numerous leader changes and exceptionally small gaps
at the order’s sharp end from start to finish.
A NEW RECORD FOR STÉPHANE ‘MONSIEUR DAKAR’ PETERHANSEL
They say 13 is unlucky for
some, but Stéphane Peterhansel is unlikely to subscribe to that theory now that
he has beaten his own record and taken his personal tally of Dakar Rally wins
to 13 in total (six on two wheels, seven on four wheels). Stéphane Peterhansel
and Jean-Paul Cottret produced a near-perfect run this time round to clock up
their seventh success together, allowing the latter to register a new record
for co-driver victories.
FAST-LEARNING WORLD CHAMPIONS
Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena
demonstrated impressive progress on only their second Dakar Rally outing. In
addition to emerging as the fastest crew of the fortnight, they combined shrewd
pace management with strong navigational skills. Their chances of victory took
a blow on Day 4, however, when an engine issue cost them 26 minutes, proving
cruelly decisive in the final reckoning. The Franco-Monegasque pair ended up
second overall for the second year running and posted the highest number of
fastest stage times (five from 10).
FIRST PODIUM HONOURS ON FOUR WHEELS
After coming seventh overall
in 2016, Cyril Despres and David Castera shared the Dakar Rally’s podium
celebrations for the first time on four wheels after previously securing five
and three bike victories respectively. The crew of the N°307 Peugeot 3008DKR
also recorded their first fastest time in the car category and even appeared at
the top of the provisional leader board on the evening of Day 4 after one of
the 2017 event’s most selective stages, hinting that there’s still plenty more
to come from the French pair.
UNFORTUNATE EARLY EXIT
After providing further
evidence of their speed, Sainz/Cruz were in the process of easing into the
provisional lead when they were unfortunately eliminated. Damage sustained by
the N°304 car in a series of rolls on Stage 4 proved too much for the mechanics
to repair within the authorised time and the Spaniards were forced to hand in
their timecard at the bivouac in Tupiza.
A WORTHY SUCCESSOR
The PEUGEOT 3008DKR
successfully took over the baton from last year’s winning car – the Peugeot 2008DKR
– to make an immediate mark on the world’s toughest cross-country rally. The
two-wheel drive car warded off its all-wheel drive opposition to reveal the
value of the technical configuration chosen by Team Peugeot Total. In spite of
unfavourable changes to the regulations (bigger air restrictor), work on the
car’s engine and suspension in recent months paid big dividends. At the same
time, the switch to a body shape derived from that of the Peugeot 3008 SUV
permitted an aerodynamic package which favoured high top speeds.
A SOLID GOLD DAKAR RECORD
Team Peugeot Total’s
one-two-three finish on the 2017 event is the latest in a long list of Dakar
Rally successes for the brand. It is Peugeot’s sixth overall victory and its
second podium lockout from seven participations.
16 DAKARS UNDEFEATED – SAM SUNDERLAND LEADS THREE-WAY PODIUM FOR KTM
The 2017 Dakar Rally, an
edition that delivered its share of drama was finally settled on Saturday January
14 when Red Bull KTM factory riders, Britain’s Sam Sunderland and Austrian
teammate Matthias Walkner crossed the line 1-2 to give the Austrian brand its
16th consecutive victory. Spain’s Gerard Farres Guell completed a perfect day
when he finished third for a complete KTM podium.
Sam Sunderland and Matthias
Walkner not only succeeded in taking the top two spots, but also to complete
the rally for the first time. Both had retired injured in earlier editions.
Sunderland went into the final
swift 64 km timed special with 33-minute advantage on his KTM 450 Rally and the
task of holding his nerve and getting the job done. He completed the stage in a
comfortable sixth place and sacrificed only a couple of minutes. After almost
9,000 km through Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina, he topped the overall
timesheets with a total time of 32:06.22 hours.
It was also an excellent
performance by Walkner, who exited in 2016 with a broken leg that kept him out
of competition for much of the past season. He was under slightly more pressure
on the run to the finish as he had two riders, Gerard Farres Guell and Adrien
Van Beveren, the eventual stage winner, in hot pursuit. Walkner finished fourth
in the stage and was 33 seconds off the leading time, which was enough to
preserve his position.
Sunderland and Walkner stepped
up and delivered for the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team after teammate and
2016 winner, Toby Price of Australia, went out in the fourth stage after
crashing and breaking his leg in four places. After surgery in La Paz, the
Australian desert champion has now returned to Australia with the aim of being
back on his KTM 450 Rally machine in four months.
Spanish KTM factory rider Laia
Sanz, who had a very successful second week after losing time in the first
week, wrapped up her rally at 16th overall, just one place short of her
pre-race goal of a top 15 finish. Also the women’s World Enduro Champion, Sanz is the standout woman rally-raid rider.
KTM first won the Dakar Rally
in 2001 and has topped the podium every subsequent year, with the exception of
2008 when the race was cancelled on the eve of departure because of terrorist
threats in North Africa. It regrouped for the 2008 edition, held in for the
first time in South America, where it has developed a huge following and is an
annual sporting highlight. The sport is also attracting a new generation of
South American rally-raid talent.
The 2017 edition started in
Paraguay, travelled to the high altitude regions of Bolivia and then south and
east through Argentina. The already extraordinarily challenging two-week event,
this year introduced new navigation and levels of difficulty. It was also
plagued by extremes of weather – temperatures from the 40 degrees Celsius to
freezing, altitudes up to 4500 meters, torrential rains, flooding and in the
last week, a massive landslide in Argentina that not only destroyed a village
but left teams and vehicles trapped for 24 hours. The extreme weather conditions
also resulted in two stages being cancelled and another two cut at the half way
mark of the timed special when flood waters made it impossible to continue.
Alex Doringer, KTM’s Division
Manager Enduro and Rally: “The Dakar, with all these circumstances, with the
weather, the rain and muddy conditions, it was quite difficult for the team
from a logistics point of view. I think for the riders, it was quite a
different Dakar. There were not as many kilometers of special stages but it was
intensive both physically and mentally. Sam did a fantastic job and he was very
consistent. Also Matthias was the same.” Doringer also paid tribute to Sanz,
saying: “What the lady does is amazing.”
While the Dakar Rally attracts
the world’s elite rally-raid riders, it is also a magnet for private teams and
amateur riders who make up most of the field of competitors. Ninety-seven, of
the original field of 146 were at the finish in Buenos Aires.
The remarkable spirit of the
Dakar was perfectly captured in two incidents. Speaking from his hospital bed
in La Paz after a massive crash in the fourth stage, Toby Price noted his
biggest regret was letting down his team. Then, on Thursday, Slovakian KTM
rider Stefan Svitko, who finished second last year collapsed with exhaustion at
the end of the special and had to be transported by ambulance to the bivouac.
He later returned, picked up his bike and was on the start for Friday’s
penultimate stage. Svitko crossed the finish line in overall 25th place.
Van Beveren Tops Final Stage To End Dakar Rally 2017 On A High
Determined to give Yamaha a
place on the final podium at the Dakar Rally 2017, Adrien Van Beveren put in a
committed final stage performance in Argentina to claim an impressive stage
victory. Ensuring a very positive end to his two-week-long adventure in South
America, the Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team rider wrapped up the event
with an impressive fourth in the overall standings. With Adrien's teammate
Hélder Rodrigues securing ninth overall, Yamaha's official team saw both its
riders finish inside the top 10 of the 2017 Dakar Rally.
Entering the rally's last
stage less than a minute behind the third placed rider, Van Beveren gave his
best during the 64-km-long timed special. Locked in a fierce battle for the
final podium position with Spain's Gerard Farrés, Adrien pushed hard from start
to finish but could not make up any time against his closest rival. Wrapping up
the 9,000km adventure in fourth overall, and just 48 seconds behind third, the
Frenchman demonstrated his huge potential in what was just the second Dakar
Rally of his career.
With the 2017 Dakar Rally
being one of the most demanding rally races to take place in South America,
Adrien made a cautious start and kept building on his speed as the race went
on. Holding on to third in the provisional overall standings for a full five
stages he dropped to fourth following a tough stage ten. Temporarily regaining
his spot inside the top three, he dropped back to fourth having been hit by a
Reaching the finish of the short
stage without any issues Adrien's teammate Hélder Rodrigues managed to add
another top ten result to his illustrious Dakar Rally career. The 11th time the
Portuguese rider has made it to the finish of the Dakar Rally, the 2017 event
marked the 10th time he's also secured a spot inside the rally's top 10.
With Van Beveren battling for
the top throughout the event and Rodrigues finishing the rally inside the top
10, the duo of Yamalube Yamaha Official Rally Team showed the huge potential of
their new WR450F Rally machines.
Battling his way through a
devastating stage 11, Yamaha France supported Xavier de Soultrait was back at
the race, successfully bringing his rally modified WR450F to the finish of the
2017 Dakar Rally. Suffering a mechanical issue during Stage 11 the Frenchman
arrived at the bivouac after 2:00am in the morning. With Yamaha Racing
mechanics spending the rest of the night preparing his bike Xavier took the
start of the final stage and brought his bike home in 14th position. Claiming
two top three stage results and fighting for the top five in the overall
standings during the majority of the event, Xavier showed he has what it takes
to battle for the podium.
Claiming the last stage
victory, Raptor 700R mounted Ignacio Casale secured an impressive runner-up
spot in the Quad class' overall standings. The big winner of the Dakar Rally
2017 in the Quad class was Sergey Karyakin. Aboard his own Yamaha Raptor 700R
the Russian dominated the field to top the standings with a staggering gap of
one-hour and 14 minutes over the rest of the field. As the leading force in the
category, Yamaha saw its riders occupy the first six spots in the final overall
standings of the rally.
All three MINI John Cooper Works Rally cars complete their first Dakar
Another exciting yet
challenging Dakar came to an end with all three new MINI John Cooper Works
Rally cars successfully completing their first ever Dakar – demonstrating that
the newest cars in the family are set to follow in the ultra-reliable tyre
tracks of their predecessor, the MINI ALL4 Racing. Seven out of all eight MINI
competitors who entered the 2017 Dakar completed the route.
The 2017 Dakar has, as always,
delivered a unique set of challenges for the drivers and co-drivers brave
enough to tackle it. Poor weather conditions and related flooding have caused
the cancellation of two stages and a reduction in distance of others, leading
to the loss of some of the most technical parts of the track from the course
and a total distance of 1,400 km less than planned.
For MINI, Orlando Terranova
(ARG) and Andreas Schulz (GER) were the shining stars in this respect, finishing
6th in the general standings on Terranova’s home turf. In the early stages of
the race though it was Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) and Michel Perin (FRA) who looked
to be the dominant MINI force in the #303 MINI John Cooper Works Rally. The
Finn looked in a strong position to challenge for a place on the final podium
in only his second Dakar, but navigational difficulties during later stages
meant that was not to be. The pair completed the course in an unlucky 13th.
The altitude in the highest
sections of the course has proved difficult for some this year though, even for
experienced drivers. MINI’s Yazeed Al Rajhi (KSA) suffered from severe sickness
in the first part of the event, leading to a temporary withdrawal from the
event on Stage 4, before re-entering the following day on Stage 5, which added
a 12-hour penalty to the completion time of the #306 MINI John Cooper Works
Rally Car. Without that unforeseen delay, Al Rajhi and co-driver Timo
Gottschalk (DEU) would have finished 20 places higher than their eventual 27th,
which is still subject to appeal.
The MINI ALL4 Racing continued
to be a strong and consistent performer, with the #316 MINI ALL4 Racing of
Jakub Przygonski (POL) and Tom Colsoul (BEL) completing the 2017 Dakar in 7th.
For Mohamed Abu Issa (QAT) and
co-driver Xavier Panseri (FRA), the 2017 Dakar has been a remarkable
achievement. This was the first ever Dakar in a car for Abu Issa who is better
known for racing quads at the event. The pair’s solid performances, supported
by the reliability of the #322 MINI ALL4 Racing, helped them finish in 10th.
The experienced Stephan Schott
(GER) completed another Dakar, this time with navigation support from co-driver
Paulo Fiuza (POR). The pair ended the 2017 rally in 15th.
Sylvio de Barros (BR) and
Rafael Capoani (BR) finished their first Dakar in a MINI in 18th. Boris
Garafulic (CHL) and Filipe Palmeiro (POR) were the only pairing not to achieve
full race distance in the #314 MINI ALL4 Racing, choosing to retire just on the
penultimate stage. They had ended the previous day (Stage 10) in 7th in the
Hero Motosports: While Rodriques came in 10th,
his teammate Santosh came in 47th. After completing the 9,000-km run
across Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina it was time to pop the champagne. Hero
Motosports Team Rally was set up in April 2016 in strategic partnership with
German off-road motorcycle specialist, Speedbrain GmbH. But in just a few
months, the team set a cracking pace in their race developments and took the
plunge into the world’s biggest off-racing event.
Rodrigues, not only finished
the rally, he exceeded the expectations of the fans and team members by
claiming a highly coveted 10th place finish on his first Dakar appearance.
Santosh, the team’s second rider, who made his third appearance in the world’s
toughest rally, too finished in a highly creditable 47th place in the overall
general classification to make it a near perfect Dakar for the Indian Team.
In the final stage 12
comprising 64-km, Rodrigues completed his timed run in 33 minutes 57 seconds
that put him in 15th place in the stage ranking, while Santosh covered the
distance in 40 minutes 39 seconds that put him 45th place for the day. After 12
stages Rodrigues clocked 34 hours 25minutes 59 seconds, while Santosh finished
all the timed sections in 42 hours 01 minute 16 seconds.
Pawan Munjal, Chairman, MD
& CEO Hero MotoCorp, “This was the debut season of Hero Motosports Ream
Rally at Dakar 2017. We had full faith in our riders C.S. Santosh and Joaquim
Rodrigues and they demonstrated excellent skill, endurance and temperament with
their superlative performance. This is indeed a significant milestone in the
global journey of Brand Hero”.