Tag Archives: Dakar Rally

DAKAR

Renault Duster Team already in the top 5 at Dakar Rally

The Renault Duster Team made a sensational start to the 2015 Dakar Rally. The Emiliano Spataro/Benjamín Lozada crew ended the first leg in fifth place, alongside some of the top specialists of the legendary off-road Rally, held in South America.

Emiliano Spataro and Benjamín Lozada produced a fantastic performance on Sunday’s opening leg of the 2015 Dakar Rally. Driving the Renault Duster entered by Renault Argentina, with the support of Renault Sport Technologies, the South American crew reached Villa Carlos Paz in sixth position, before gaining an extra place after a penalty was handed to Nasser Al-Attiyah. They therefore hold fifth place overall, less than minute behind the leader, Orlando Terranova, and only fourteen seconds adrift of second place, whilst also ending the leg ahead of some very accomplished drivers, such as former winners Carlos Sainz and Stéphane Peterhansel.

This is the best result recorded by the Renault Duster Team at this stage since its debut in 2013. Last year, José García and Mauricio Malano were ninth overall after the first leg.

García and Malano, in the second Renault Duster, also made a good start on Sunday in Argentina. However, held up by poor visibility and difficulties in overtaking the cars ahead of them on the road, they ended the first leg in 37th position, less than 14 minutes off the lead.

 

Overall standings after the first leg, Buenos Aires – Villa Carlos Paz – Dakar 2015

1. Terranova – Graue (Mini) 1:13:12

2. Gordon – Campbell (Hummer) +0:42

3. De Villiers – Von Zitzewitz +0:50

4. Holowicz – Panseri +0:54

5. Spataro – Lozada +0:56

37. García – Malano + 13:55

The two Renault Duster crews will resume their journey on Monday, heading from Villa Carlos Paz to San Juan, covering a total of 625 kilometres, with 518 kilometres of timed stages.

DAKAR

DAKAR STAGE 6

DESPRES AND PETERHANSEL ARE CHAMPIONS

While the last special was won by Norway’s Pâl Anders Ullevâlseter (motorcycles) and Robby Gordon (cars), France’s Cyril Despres and Stéphane Peterhansel took their fourth and tenth Dakars respectively, all categories included. The champions were applauded on the podium on Lima’s Plaza de Armas by a huge crowd which came to acclaim both the competitors and the arrival of the greatest rally raid in the world to Lima’s capital. All in all, 97 motorcycles, 12 quads, 78 cars and 60 trucks made it to the finishing line of the 33rd Dakar, i.e., 249 of the 443 vehicles which started the rally in Mar del Plata.

Advantage Despres… The demonstration was decided at all levels. After covering 8,300 kilometres on roads, courses and dunes since the start in Mar del Plata, the gap between Marc Coma and Cyril Despres is 53’20”. The Frenchman has won his fourth title in Lima… One more than his great rival in the elite of this sport! Once again, the extremely close race between the two champions proved that one has to be an all-rounder in order to win a Dakar: physical stamina is important, navigational mistakes were tiny but enough to decide their duel, their piloting was as good as it was fast, strategy played an important role, the mechanical aspect (on identical KTMs) was well-managed… with a disappointment for Marc Coma: on the eve of the finish, a gearbox breakdown prevented him from fighting on at a time when he was leading the general classification. The Catalan was also forced to replace his engine, which gave rise to a 45-minute penalty pursuant to the new rule. This time loss proved fatal, following a two-week battle in which victories were measured in seconds.

Behind Despres and Coma, the riders vying for a podium spot were never in a position to challenge the title contenders. Strong and consistent Hélder Rodrigues finished the rally in 3rd place, just like last year. He took a stage win but ended up 1 h behind the French champion. He may be able to mount a stronger challenge if he ends up with a Yamaha YZF, which neither David Casteu nor Olivier Pain was able to place at the top of the classification. On the route between Mar del Plata and Lima, those following the motorcycle category discovered that the future of Catalonia no longer rests exclusively on Marc Coma’s shoulders. The breakthrough of this year came from Joan Barreda, who lost all chances of shining in the overall classification at the beginning of the rally (11th at the end) but was still able to leave his mark on the race, with a stage win and eight specials in the Top 5.

Italy’s Alessandro Boturri was the fastest rookie in the Dakar (8th, 2 h 59’04” behind Despres), racing for the new team Bordone-Ferrari, which also placed Jordi Viladoms in fourth. The Catalan clan can be happy, with Laia Sanz taking the win in the ladies’ category. On the other hand, Stéphane Hamard won the classification of riders participating without assistance.

In the car category, everyone expected it to be a Mini affair, since the X-Raid team seemed to have the best hardware and the best drivers… and this was the case! In the end, the Frankfurt-based team won eight stages out of thirteen with four different pilots (with Stéphane Peterhansel taking three). Most importantly, the team was always in command of the overall classification. Therefore, it was no surprise to see the main duel take place between “Peter” and his most experienced teammate, Spain’s Joan “Nani” Roma. Although he took the lead in stage 3, master “Peter” still had to wait until the penultimate stage to get an unassailable advantage. In the end, Stéphane Peterhansel took his fourth win in the car category (the first in South America) with a margin of 41’56” over the Catalan driver, joining Vatanen as the record-holder in the car category. Most importantly, the driver from Vésoul has written yet another chapter in the history of the Dakar with his tenth win, all categories included!

Nevertheless, X-Raid’s irresistible performance cannot hide Robby Gordon’s comeback. Aided by the driving skills of his teammate and defending champion, Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, and propelled by the raw power of his car (whose compliance with the rules was disputed), the driver from California left his mark on the 33rd edition of the rally, both on the course and in the bivouac, since he was the only pilot able to stand up to the X-Raid tyranny. But, despite his three stage victories, Gordon only managed to finish fifth in the overall classification, more than 2 h 15′ down.

The highlight of the 2012 Dakar was the performance of ever-consistent Giniel de Villiers, with a less boisterous but more effective style. Although his preparation was cut short and the project was still in the making, the South African driver managed to crack a podium place in the very first participation of the new Toyota. This will give him confidence and ambition for the future.

Finally, the win in the two-wheel drive category went to Ronan Chabot and his SMG buggy. He was extremely consistent and beat South Africa’s Mark Corbett by over nine hours. This margin would have made much easier the life of Xavier Foj, the winner of the production category! But once again, the Spaniard had to wait until the final part of the race to open the decisive gap and win the race against his best enemy, Japan’s Jun Mitsuhashi, by 59′.

The statistics of the quad category are misleading. Defending champion Alejandro Patronelli managed to get back-to-back wins. He seized the lead after the Copiapó-Copiapó loop and never let it go. His brother Marcos lost all his chances when he conceded 1 h 20′ in stage 7. But the formal domination of the race by the elder of the brothers from Las Flores was contested throughout the entire rally by another Argentinean: Tomás Maffei. Last year’s seventh-placed pilot took the lead after stages 4 and 5 and was able to cling onto the Patronellis, only losing his second place after stage 9. The list of stage winners is proof of how hotly contested the race was: four for Maffei, including the prestigious finale in Lima, and three for each of the brothers. Behind the terrific trio, Chile’s Ignacio Casale and Uruguay’s Sergio Lafuente round off the Top 5… over six and eight hours back, respectively. The Italo-French pilot Camelia Liparoti went one better than last year, finishing ninth.

Finally, today will go down in history as the first time the Dakar rally was won by Gerard de Rooy and the Italian constructor Iveco. A winning combination which already seemed to have it in the bag at the start in Mar del Plata, such were the means mobilised by the Dutch armada to reach their goals. Nevertheless, the balance was only tipped in favour of De Rooy Jr after stage 9, with the withdrawal of Aleš Loprais due to an accident. The young Czech driver had been able to keep Gerard de Rooy in his sights until then, losing only 15’39” in the general classification. Despite this mano a mano, it was De Rooy who left his mark on the 2012 edition by taking the most stages (5) and leading the race from stage 4 onwards. 25 years after his father Jan, Gerard has written a new chapter of De Rooy history in the Dakar, in a category marked by the failure of the Kamazs to repeat last year’s dominating performance. The overhaul of their management team still has to pay dividends. Eduard Nikolayev’s disqualification for anti-sportive behaviour in stage 4 showed just how difficult the transition is proving to be. Nevertheless, this allowed Andrey Karginov and the reserved Kazakh Artur Ardavichus to shine by taking their maiden victories at the Dakar.

DAKAR

DAKAR STAGE 3

HE ONLY STARTED 30TH… but by the time he got to Nazca he’d already left almost 20 other riders in the dust. Francisco López took his second stage win in three days at the 2013 Dakar. In the car category, Nasser Al-Attiyah won his 15th special at the Dakar, while the X-Raid team’s delight at seeing Stéphane Peterhansel seize the overall lead was tempered by the injuries and withdrawal of key driver Pole Krzysztof Hołowczyc.

Leading the field can prove costly. It’s a strategic factor that must be taken into account in the Dakar. Yesterday’s heroes are often today’s losers. And this is exactly what happened to Joan Barreda and his fellow travellers towards the start of the stage. Yesterday’s winner was followed by Pedrero, Fish and others as he carefully performed his duties. He avoided the most dangerous pitfalls by focusing 110% on the road book… meaning he could only maintain a leisurely pace. Meanwhile, the most experienced riders started quite far back but they seized their chance to overtake the entire field without having to wrack their brains navigating. And few are better at this than Francisco López: the leading group went through the km 39 checkpoint at no more than 50 km/h, but Chaleco blasted onwards at 100 km/h. The Chilean was rewarded with his eighth Dakar win, the second of this edition. But he didn’t take over the lead. Cyril Despres is no slouch either when it comes to experience and strategy, and he’s got a knack for recognising the key points where he can make the difference. Today’s third place behind Chaleco and Paulo Gonçalves was enough for him to take the overall lead with a margin of 2′51″ over López, 4′59″ over Pål Anders Ullevålseter and 6′03″ over Olivier Pain.

Today’s stage also saw a repeat winner in the quad category, as Marcos Patronelli grabbed his second stage this year and slightly bolstered his position… despite having to deal with a slowly deflating tyre which forced him to slow down 30 km from the finish! The Argentinean driver now commands a 21′18″ lead on his nearest competitor, Sebastian Husseini. One of the first casualties of this war of attrition was Tomás Maffei, third in 2012, who has a deficit of 1 h 35′ to make up on Patronelli in the overall.

Today saw the opening of hostilities in the car category. Only last evening, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Carlos Sainz were sharing a pleasant meal in Pisco with Stéphane Peterhansel and Nani Roma. Yet the Qatar Red Bull Rally Team’s Spanish driver had already filed a complaint which would result in his table partner being stripped of both the stage 2 win and the overall lead! The race officials decided to deduct the time he’d spent looking for a waypoint which hadn’t been “validated” by a malfunctioning GPS, leaving Sainz to lead the field on its way to Nazca.

The Matador’s streak was cut short by electrical problems which forced him to stop several times and cost him roughly half an hour, but Nasser Al-Attiyah took over and kept the Qatar Red Bull party going. The Qatari started in seventh place and went on to overtake all those in front of him except for Peterhansel. It was a great day at the office for Al-Attiyah, who climbed from seventh to second overall. It’ll be harder for Robby Gordon to bounce back, but the American cut his deficit from 55′ in Pisco to 46′ in Nazca. The other big winner was Stéphane Peterhansel, who reclaimed the overall lead he thought to have conquered yesterday.

But don’t expect the X-Raid team to be all smiles tonight. While their captain was filling the bill, Krzysztof Hołowczyc crashed 39 km into the special. His Mini jumped over a dune and had a rough landing which hurt the Polish driver’s back and ribs. His co-driver Felipe Palmeiro emerged unscathed.

Only one driver has managed a hat-trick of wins in this year’s Dakar, and it’s none other than Gerard de Rooy. The Dutch truck driver’s flawless performance inspired teammate Miki Biasion to a third place finish. It also was the first time in the 2013 Dakar that the Kamaz team managed to put one of its trucks in the Top 3. Eduard Nikolaev only lost 1’24” today and now lies 21’44” behind the defending champion in the overall classification.

DAKAR

DAKAR STAGE 2

JOAN BARREDA MAKES IT TWO, BUT “PETER” MAKES IT SIXTY!

Yesterday’s loop around Pisco saw Joan Barreda win the stage and the usual supporting cast of the Dakar step up to the plate and take the top honours, together with talented rookies like Matt Fish and Kurt Caselli. In the car category, Sainz and Al-Attiyah’s navigational problems were a blessing for the most experienced of the Dakar champions: Petehanserl, who took his 60th special, and Giniel de Villiers, who climbed to second in the general classification.

One of the things that make rally raids special are those little mistakes which can turn the race on its head every day. Specials which seem harmless on paper can sometimes yield surprises.

Today, a small collective navigational mistake by those at the front of the race gave those at the back the opportunity to shine. Following yesterday’s winner in Pisco, “Chaleco”, Cyril Despres succumbed to the temptation and took a detour around a huge dune at km 75. But it was more difficult than expected for the defending champion to get back on track. In the meanwhile, industrious Joan Barreda never strayed from the course. His handling abilities hadn’t gone unnoticed in the two previous editions of the Dakar. The Catalan showed it wasn’t a fluke by riding his Husqvarna to the second stage win of his career, made even sweeter by the third place of his helper Matt Fish, who romped onto the stage in the Dakar. Joan Pedrero, another Catalan who’s more used to riding in the shadow of his leader Marc Coma, also seized the opportunity to finish second. Cyril Despres’ mishaps cost him over eight minutes with regard to the new general classification leader. His teammate Ruben Faria lies second in the overall ranking, 5’36” down on Barreda. Today was the helpers’ day!

In the quad category, on the other hand, Marcos Patronelli showed who’s the “Boss”. After Peru’s Ignacio Flores stole the show yesterday, Patronelli became reacquainted with victory and with his traditional rivals Ignacio Casale and Tomás Maffei, who finished third and fourth. He should also keep an eye on Sebastian Husseini, who was the runner-up for the second day in a row.

They all faced the same course, but not all of the leading lights of the car category ran into trouble in the same places. Not even those at the top of the ranking lucked out. Not even Carlos Sainz, the ephemeral leader of the 2013 Dakar… until km 50. The Spaniard and his co-driver were the first victims when they misread the road book and started “driving in circles” through the Peruvian desert. Nasser Al-Attiyah and later Nani Roma had the same problem. Guerlain Chicherit didn’t make any mistakes, but his first mechanical issues at the wheel of his SMG buggy cost him half an hour. Nevertheless, his team has good reason to be proud today, as Ronan Chabot drove an identical car to third place. A remarkable improvement for the French rider, who finished 12th in 2012 and was only beaten by two former Dakar winners. Giniel de Villiers and his Toyota finished second, ready to pounce on… Stéphane Peterhansel. The X-Raid Team leader drove confidently throughout the loop stage and grabbed his 60th special in the Dakar, as well as taking control of the general classification with a 2’38” lead on the South African, whom he’d marked as his main rival. Everything’s going to plan.

Gerard de Rooy is on fire. With a second straight stage win, the defending champion continues to bolster his position with a few minutes every day… for now. The stage was like the curate’s egg for the Iveco team, as their leader’s win was balanced by Hans Stacey’s mishaps. He made a mistake and tipped his truck over after posting the best intermediate time. Aleš Loprais remains on the prowl behind De Rooy, with Miki Biasion and his Iveco on the bottom step of the provisional podium. The first Kamaz, with Eduard Nikolaev at the wheel, is already 20 minutes down.

DAKAR

DAKAR STAGE 1

DAKAR RALLY DAY ONE:

It’s hot in Pisco. Yet the results of the first special were a burst of freshness, with Ignacio Flores and his quad seizing Peru’s maiden win. Meanwhile, Chile took control of the motorcycle category as Chaleco won the stage and two other Chileans got into the Top 4. In the car category it wasn’t a question of nationality, but of seeing winner Carlos Sainz’s car breathe new life into his palmarès. The buggies didn’t disappoint anyone in the first day of racing.

The consequences of the first stage will be forgotten in a few days, but what they experienced in Lima’s Chorrillos neighbourhood this morning is something that will remain indelible in the minds of all the participants in the 2013 Dakar. Perched above the beautiful Agua Dulce beach and the jet set Club de Regatas, the start podium presented the drivers and riders to the crowd. And what a crowd it was. It was great in terms of quality, as the President of the Republic came to the front row to cheer on the “Forza Inca” team one last time. And, above all, in terms of quantity, as the Limeños flocked to the hill slopes, the area around the podium and even the road the vehicles took on their way from the parc fermé.

Mr Ollanta Humala’s exhortations didn’t fall on deaf ears and, a few hours later, the first stage winner of this Dakar turned out to be… a Peruvian. The quads had the honour of kicking off today’s short special. Ignacio Flores, who was forced to quit last year’s Dakar just before the race reached his country, got his own back in the 13 km opener. The hero of the day was 11″ faster than Emirati Sebastian Husseini, who lived up to the expectations in his Dakar debut by outperforming Marcos Patronelli.

No surprises in the motorcycle race, which was also favourable to the host countries of the 2013 edition. Francisco López didn’t even wait for the rally to reach his country this time round. Chaleco, who rides a KTM for the Chilean Tamarugal team this year, grabbed his eighth Dakar stage win. He already won last year’s opener in Mar del Plata before eventually withdrawing during the eighth stage. Today’s runner-up Frans Verhoeven is also riding a new motorcycle this year, a Yamaha. An encouraging start for the Dutchman, but it was the Chilean armada that stole the limelight with, paradoxically, a great burst of freshness: Pablo Quintanilla and Patricio Cabrera, both younger than 25, finished third and fourth of today’s special, just ahead of defending champion Cyril Despres!

The hierarchy of the first day is rarely cast in stone, but the usual pecking order was also turned on its head in the car category. The Mini trio, Peterhansel, Roma and Hołowczyc, are still favourites to win, as a mere 37 seconds separate the first ten drivers. But, symbolically, the make-up of the Top 5 seems more favourable to the German manufacturer. Carlos Sainz marked his Dakar comeback by clocking the fastest time. True, it’s not a new sight for those who lived through the Volkswagen era. But the Matador took his 25th victory at the wheel of a buggy which he’s barely got to know and requires a completely different driving style. Said buggy looks ready to rumble from the point of view of sheer performance, with Nasser Al-Attiyah driving its twin to fourth place in today’s stage. The Toyotas were also up to the task, but it was Lucio Álvarez who got the most of his Hilux by finishing second, 8″ down on Sainz. Team SMG also raised questions on the competitiveness of two-wheel drive cars. With Guerlain Chicherit third and Ronan Chabot fifth, Philippe Gache’s two leading drivers were both faster than the Minis. But defending champion Stéphane Peterhansel limited his losses to a mere 34″. Things aren’t looking as bright for Robby Gordon, who ran into trouble from day one and conceded over ten minutes to his rivals… in just 13 kilometres.

But the defending champion wouldn’t have any of this nonsense in the truck category. Pisco saw Gerard de Rooy win his 19th Dakar stage victory, which was made even sweeter by the sight of his teammate and cousin Hans Stacey taking second place. The leader of the Kamaz team, Eduard Nikolaev, lies fifth in the provisional classification.

Motorsports Mondial

FREDERIC LE FLOCH / DPPI

Dakar Rally Victories, Lima

While the last special was won by Norway’s Pâl Anders Ullevâlseter (motorcycles) and Robby Gordon (cars), France’s Cyril Despres and Stéphane Peterhansel took their fourth and tenth Dakars respectively, all categories included. The champions were applauded on the podium on Lima’s Plaza de Armas by a huge crowd which came to acclaim both the competitors and the arrival of the greatest rally raid in the world to Lima’s capital. All in all, 97 motorcycles, 12 quads, 78 cars and 60 trucks made it to the finishing line of the 33rd Dakar, i.e., 249 of the 443 vehicles which started the rally in Mar del Plata.

Advantage Despres… The demonstration was decided at all levels. After covering 8,300 kilometres on roads, courses and dunes since the start in Mar del Plata, the gap between Marc Coma and Cyril Despres is 53’20”. The Frenchman has won his fourth title in Lima… One more than his great rival in the elite of this sport! Once again, the extremely close race between the two champions proved that one has to be an all-rounder in order to win a Dakar: physical stamina is important, navigational mistakes were tiny but enough to decide their duel, their piloting was as good as it was fast, strategy played an important role, the mechanical aspect (on identical KTMs) was well-managed… with a disappointment for Marc Coma: on the eve of the finish, a gearbox breakdown prevented him from fighting on at a time when he was leading the general classification. The Catalan was also forced to replace his engine, which gave rise to a 45-minute penalty pursuant to the new rule. This time loss proved fatal, following a two-week battle in which victories were measured in seconds.

Behind Despres and Coma, the riders vying for a podium spot were never in a position to challenge the title contenders. Strong and consistent Hélder Rodrigues finished the rally in 3rd place, just like last year. He took a stage win but ended up 1 h behind the French champion. He may be able to mount a stronger challenge if he ends up with a Yamaha YZF, which neither David Casteu nor Olivier Pain was able to place at the top of the classification. On the route between Mar del Plata and Lima, those following the motorcycle category discovered that the future of Catalonia no longer rests exclusively on Marc Coma’s shoulders. The breakthrough of this year came from Joan Barreda, who lost all chances of shining in the overall classification at the beginning of the rally (11th at the end) but was still able to leave his mark on the race, with a stage win and eight specials in the Top 5.

Italy’s Alessandro Boturri was the fastest rookie in the Dakar (8th, 2 h 59’04” behind Despres), racing for the new team Bordone-Ferrari, which also placed Jordi Viladoms in fourth. The Catalan clan can be happy, with Laia Sanz taking the win in the ladies’ category. On the other hand, Stéphane Hamard won the classification of riders participating without assistance.

In the car category, everyone expected it to be a Mini affair, since the X-Raid team seemed to have the best hardware and the best drivers… and this was the case! In the end, the Frankfurt-based team won eight stages out of thirteen with four different pilots (with Stéphane Peterhansel taking three). Most importantly, the team was always in command of the overall classification. Therefore, it was no surprise to see the main duel take place between “Peter” and his most experienced teammate, Spain’s Joan “Nani” Roma. Although he took the lead in stage 3, master “Peter” still had to wait until the penultimate stage to get an unassailable advantage. In the end, Stéphane Peterhansel took his fourth win in the car category (the first in South America) with a margin of 41’56” over the Catalan driver, joining Vatanen as the record-holder in the car category. Most importantly, the driver from Vésoul has written yet another chapter in the history of the Dakar with his tenth win, all categories included!

Nevertheless, X-Raid’s irresistible performance cannot hide Robby Gordon’s comeback. Aided by the driving skills of his teammate and defending champion, Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, and propelled by the raw power of his car (whose compliance with the rules was disputed), the driver from California left his mark on the 33rd edition of the rally, both on the course and in the bivouac, since he was the only pilot able to stand up to the X-Raid tyranny. But, despite his three stage victories, Gordon only managed to finish fifth in the overall classification, more than 2 h 15′ down.

The highlight of the 2012 Dakar was the performance of ever-consistent Giniel de Villiers, with a less boisterous but more effective style. Although his preparation was cut short and the project was still in the making, the South African driver managed to crack a podium place in the very first participation of the new Toyota. This will give him confidence and ambition for the future.

Finally, the win in the two-wheel drive category went to Ronan Chabot and his SMG buggy. He was extremely consistent and beat South Africa’s Mark Corbett by over nine hours. This margin would have made much easier the life of Xavier Foj, the winner of the production category! But once again, the Spaniard had to wait until the final part of the race to open the decisive gap and win the race against his best enemy, Japan’s Jun Mitsuhashi, by 59′.

The statistics of the quad category are misleading. Defending champion Alejandro Patronelli managed to get back-to-back wins. He seized the lead after the Copiapó-Copiapó loop and never let it go. His brother Marcos lost all his chances when he conceded 1 h 20′ in stage 7. But the formal domination of the race by the elder of the brothers from Las Flores was contested throughout the entire rally by another Argentinean: Tomás Maffei. Last year’s seventh-placed pilot took the lead after stages 4 and 5 and was able to cling onto the Patronellis, only losing his second place after stage 9. The list of stage winners is proof of how hotly contested the race was: four for Maffei, including the prestigious finale in Lima, and three for each of the brothers. Behind the terrific trio, Chile’s Ignacio Casale and Uruguay’s Sergio Lafuente round off the Top 5… over six and eight hours back, respectively. The Italo-French pilot Camelia Liparoti went one better than last year, finishing ninth.

Finally, today will go down in history as the first time the Dakar rally was won by Gerard de Rooy and the Italian constructor Iveco. A winning combination which already seemed to have it in the bag at the start in Mar del Plata, such were the means mobilised by the Dutch armada to reach their goals. Nevertheless, the balance was only tipped in favour of De Rooy Jr after stage 9, with the withdrawal of Aleš Loprais due to an accident. The young Czech driver had been able to keep Gerard de Rooy in his sights until then, losing only 15’39” in the general classification. Despite this mano a mano, it was De Rooy who left his mark on the 2012 edition by taking the most stages (5) and leading the race from stage 4 onwards. 25 years after his father Jan, Gerard has written a new chapter of De Rooy history in the Dakar, in a category marked by the failure of the Kamazs to repeat last year’s dominating performance. The overhaul of their management team still has to pay dividends. Eduard Nikolayev’s disqualification for anti-sportive behaviour in stage 4 showed just how difficult the transition is proving to be. Nevertheless, this allowed Andrey Karginov and the reserved Kazakh Artur Ardavichus to shine by taking their maiden victories at the Dakar.