Tag Archives: Dakar Rally

Motorsports Mondial

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Dakar Rally, Pisco

Hélder Rodrigues may have taken his first stage victory in the 2012 Dakar, but Cyril Despres was the real winner of the 13th special. Despres took advantage of Marc Coma’s gearbox problems, with the Catalan leading the field and under pressure, to claw back 12’38”. Just 24 hours away from the end of the race in Lima, he seized the overall lead with an 11’03” margin over the Catalan. Today was an eventful day for the leaders in the car category, with Nani Roma getting stuck and Robby Gordon’s car doing a somersault. Once again, Stéphane Peterhansel thrived in difficult conditions and took his third stage win in 2012. He now leads the overall classification with a 42’57” margin.

Rodrigues for the honour, Despres for the win… France’s Cyril Despres produced today’s star performance, taking advantage of his fourth place in the field and the pressure on Marc Coma, who led the field today and had gearbox problems from km 25 onwards. The rider who lives in Andorra soon overtook the three pilots ahead of him and took Hélder Rodrigues on his wheel. He piled the pressure on the Catalan and forced him to attack with broken 2nd and 3rd gears, eventually “cracking” him when Coma got lost at km 207. As a result, Rodrigues took his first win in 2012 (fifth career win at the Dakar), while Despres finished second, 47″ behind the Portuguese rider but 12’38” ahead of Coma…

With only 29 kilometres to go in the last special on Sunday, Cyril Despres climbed back to the top of the overall classification and will be able to take things carefully in the last stage thanks to his 11’03” margin over the Catalan. Coma is expected to replace his engine this evening, which entails a 45-minute penalty. Behind him, today’s winner Hélder Rodrigues all but sewed up his place on the third step of the final podium with a 29’45” lead over Spain’s Jordi Viladoms.

Gordon goes too far, Nani gets stuck and Peter consolidates his lead… Robby Gordon was on the attack from the very beginning of today’s special in an attempt to prove his sheer power once again. But when you try too hard, you often end up making mistakes, and Gordon was no exception! He first lost several minutes on the dunes at km 182, but this only made him angrier and more eager to prove how fast he is! As a result, the Hummer flew over a dune 22 kilometres later and did a somersault Gordon was able to continue… after losing over 36 minutes!

The area near km 182 was quite tricky, as Spain’s Nani Roma learned the hard way. The Catalan driver was stuck for over 25 minutes, until his Portuguese teammate Ricardo Leal dos Santos came to his rescue. He lost 22’57” to today’s winner, no other than overall leader Stéphane Peterhansel! The Frenchman thrived in difficult conditions once again and made the most of his experience to avoid all the traps in the special. This earned him his 59th stage win at the Dakar (all categories included), 8’29” ahead of ever-consistent Giniel de Villiers and 12’55” ahead of his Russian teammate Leonid Novitskiy.

The nine-time winner of the rally in the car and motorcycle categories now leads the overall classification with a 42’57” margin over his Spanish teammate Nani Roma and 1 h 15’09” over South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers, whose gamble with Toyota is paying dividends. Behind them, Leonid Novitskiy took advantage of Gordon’s aerial acrobatics to move up to fourth, 7’09” ahead of the American.

In the quad category, the Patronellis probably took things carefully in the last big special, but their most consistent rival, Tomás Maffei, was no undeserving winner. He took his 3rd scratch this year and confirmed his potential. Just like Sergio La Fuente, who slipped in between the Argentineans to take second in today’s stage. He had already finished second on the occasion of his double whammy in the first two stages, as well as in the Atacaman loop stage around Copiapó. Although this last battle did not change the status quo in the final classification (Alejandro and Marcos Patronelli, followed by Maffei), it did reveal who the contenders will be at the next Dakar.

Finally, in the truck category, Russia’s Andrey Karginov seized his second stage win. The 12th rider to start this morning (after yesterday’s mishaps) beat Brazil’s André de Azevedo by 20’14” and the Netherlands’ Hans Stacey by 22’09. The Dutchman was shadowed by his teammates Miki Biasion and Gerard de Rooy. No changes in the overall classification, where Gerard de Rooy still leads with a 53’16” margin over Stacey. Kazakhstan’s Artur Ardavichus, 1 h 48’25” back in third, drove defensively to ensure Kamaz will place at least one of their trucks on the final podium of the 2012 edition.


Motorsports Mondial


Dakar Rally, Nasca

Taking advantage of the starting order today, the third man out, Marc Coma, achieved a not inconsiderably splendid performance in the dunes at the end of the special stage to pick up his 5th stage victory of 2012. More importantly, the Catalan beat his main rival Cyril Despres by 3’57” and regained the lead in the general standings by 1’35”. In the car race, whilst American Robby Gordon picked up the gauntlet by winning his 2nd stage victory of 2012, the day especially saw a big fright for Stephane Peterhansel when he became stuck for several long minutes in the dunes, before finally conceding only 2’49” to Nani Roma, who he still leads by 20 minutes in the general standings.

Assisted by the strategy used yesterday, which enabled him to start the day’s special in 3rd position, Marc Coma went on all out attack throughout the 197 kilometres of the timed section on the 12th stage, picking up his 21st stage victory on the Dakar. At the finishing line, the Spaniard beat his two countrymen, rally revelation Joan Barreda, 2nd 2’43” behind, and Jordi Viladoms, 3rd 3’10” behind.

Handicapped by having to open the road, Cyril Despres tried everything to foil the Catalan’s strategy. Risking everything, the Frenchman managed to only concede a little more than thirty seconds before getting to grips with the unstable dunes on the last part of the special stage. On this tricky terrain, despite the enjoyment he claimed, the man from Andorra could not prevent himself from losing time whilst opening the road, finally conceding 3’57” to his main rival.

Two days from the finish in Lima, Coma has taken command of the general standings, 1’35” ahead of Despres, who nevertheless may have played a good strategic card, since he will have the advantage of starting in 4th position tomorrow, whilst his Catalan rival will have to open the road… Behind, the battle for the 3rd place on the podium is still close: Helder Rodrigues, 7th today 7’31” behind Coma, lost 4’21” to his main rival Jordi Viladoms, and now only has a lead of 26’45” over the 2nd Catalan in the Top 4.

Whilst Gordon put on a show, “Peter” got a big fright… After losing 1 hour and 50 minutes due to a mechanical problem yesterday, Robby Gordon only has stage victories to look forward to as a consolation on the Dakar 2012. Twenty-second to start this morning, the American went on the attack from start to finish on the day’s special, annihilating the competition to pick up his 6th stage victory on the Dakar, 15’18” ahead of Russian Leonid Novitskiy, and 22’06” in front of South African Giniel De Villiers.

Respectively 1st and 2nd to get to grips with the tracks this morning, Stephane Peterhansel and Nani Roma both came close to a major setback today when they both got stuck in the sand for a not inconsiderable time. Stephane Peterhansel seemed to fair worse, losing almost 20 minutes to get out of a “sink hole” between dunes after 145 km. However, he hurtled back into the race over “the 50 km where I’ve attacked the most during the whole rally” in his own words. The man from Vésul eventually caught up with his team-mate and nonetheless rival just before the finishing line to only concede 2’49” to Roma, the Catalan having also encountered the same sort of problems after 155 km, but taking less time to get over the mishap.

Two days from the finish, in the general standings, Stephane Peterhansel therefore brilliantly limited the damage today and now has a lead of exactly 20 minutes over Nani Roma. Behind them, Giniel De Villiers still appears able to protect his 3rd place until Lima, but still has to steer clear of problems and keep a watchful eye on Robby Gordon in fourth who probably still has not given up hope of a podium finish, despite trailing the South African by 37’24”.

42 seconds separated the two Patronelli brothers on the finishing line in Nazca, but this time Marcos was king of the reduced pack of quads still in the race. After Alejandro on Thursday in Arequipa, the 2010 winner triumphed in a stage that was a carbon copy of the previous days’ scenarios. The two Patronellis and Maffei are singing from the same hymn sheet without worrying about the other competitors, who are struggling to get themselves noticed. In spite of the difficulties announced and encountered during the day, none of the leading trio faltered and the general standings, with gaps in the region of an hour separating the three men, seems almost set in stone with the perspective of an all Argentinean podium.


Motorsports Mondial




Red Bull

So far this Rally is proving to be once again a fantastic and colossal motor sports event!

From Robby Gordon’s Hummer to Cyril Despres’s KTM motorcycle the intensity never drops.

Having started in 1978 and originally a simple endurance race or as they said back in the day “Rally-Raid” from Paris to Dakar Senegal It’s now grown into the biggest car rally on the Globe.

Of course timing is everything and the Dakar Rally shows up on the calendar exactly when motor sports fans are in dire need of some action due to the winter break the rest of the racing world takes at the end of their respective seasons.

Today the rally is nowhere near the continent of Africa or Europe for that matter having moved to South America for safety sometimes terrorist and our favorite! Political reasons. Nevertheless the racing itself still retains the respect it deserves. The host nations of Argentina, Chile and Peru deserve some substantial kudos for doing an outstanding job in supporting and promoting the Rally especially in these lackadaisical economic times.

I do want to extend my condolences to Argentinian rider Jorge Martinez Boero’s family he lost his life on Sunday January 1, 2012 the first day of the Dakar Rally. The 38-year-old Boero, making his second appearance on the grueling Dakar Rally, suffered a heart attack after being seriously injured in a fall from his Beta bike two kilometers from the end of the stage between Mar del Plata and Santa Rosa de la Pampa in the west of Argentina.

As we reach the final stages of the Dakar Rally this week I can’t stop cheering for America’s favorite race driver Robby Gordon,  his on and off sparing matches with race stewards and the FIA, his pending possible disqualification, his numerous mechanical failures, and his do or die attitude… you just got to love this guy!

I’ll see everyone at the finish line.

Clark Rodgers – www.F1weekly.com

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F1Weekly podcast # 545


Dakar Rally, Arequipa

For its arrival in Peru, the Dakar 2012 saw Cyril Despres win his 4th stage of this year’s rally and gain extra time over Marc Coma, with a lead of now 2’22” in the general standings. More significantly, this 11th stage has genuinely proven that the confrontation between the two men is starting to resemble a chess match. Robby Gordon would have liked to play at this game right to the finish, but in the car race the American suffered mechanical problems and lost more than one hour today, leaving the way open for the general standings leader, Stephane Peterhansel, who won his 25th stage in a car on the Dakar.

Whilst the Dakar history books will note that Cyril Despres was the first rider to win in Peru, the 27th country to welcome the caravan of the world’s biggest rally-raid, the records of today’s stage will note that the Frenchman gained a bit of breathing space in the general standings between Ari ca and Arequipa. Indeed, by settling on catching up with Marc Coma, who set off just before him this morning, then following him all day, the Frenchman put in a strategically perfect performance to pick up his 30th stage victory on the Dakar and more significantly gain 2’01” over the Catalan.

He will definitely be needing it! This 11th special stage also saw a strategic battle from the Coma clan, who worked to place its leader in an ideal position in before the big special of dunes between Arequipa et Nasca. Catalan Gerard Farres Guell attacked all along the 478 km of special to finally achieve the 2nd best time of the day, 1’39” behind Despres. As a result, Farres Guell will start tomorrow in front of his friend Marc Coma, on the 12th stage, allowing Coma the possibility to “easily” regain 4 minutes over the Frenchman. Furthermore, another Gallic rider Johnny Aubert, promoted to water carrier for Coma after the withdrawal of Pedrero yesterday, also put in a superb performance to accomplish the 4th best time of t! he day a nd will now start the next stage just behind his leader.

However, for the moment, Cyril Despres has reinforced his position as general standings leader, with a lead that now stands at 2’22” over his best enemy. Behind them, Helder Rodrigues experienced a difficult day after stalling on a river crossing at the 21-km point of the special, which led to him losing 7’44” at the finishing line! The Portuguese rider is still well placed on the 3rd step of the provisional podium with a lead of 16’06” over fourth placed rider Jordi Viladoms.

In the car race, Robby Gordon has lost his chance of triumph on a day marked by a breakdown of his cardan suspension that stopped him for more than an hour of repairs, leaving the road open to the Minis for the final battle. In the inter-team duel that Stephane Peterhansel and Nani Roma are now involved in, the Frenchman took another step towards his 10th title, in all categories, by winning his 25th stage in a car on the Dakar, 3’44” ahead of his Catalan team-mate. In the general standings, “Peter” now boasts a lead of 22’49” over Roma. Benefitting from Gordon’s problems, South African Giniel de Villiers has climbed on to the third step of the provisional podium, admittedly 1 hour 11 minutes behind the leader, but still has a good chance of keeping this position until Lima.

In the quad race, the game seems to be up in light of the Patronelli brothers’ domination of their rivals. Alejandro, the title holder and category leader since the 7th stage, achieved his 10th stage victory on the Dakar and his 3rd in 2012, once again in front of his younger sibling, Marcos. Tomas Maffei, the only rider who is showing a fragment of resistance to the men from Las Flores, conceded more time today, finishing 18’57” behind, and seems to be resigned to the fact. This is not surprising, when in the general standings Alejandro Patronelli now boasts a lead of 1 hour and 20 minutes over Marcos and 1:55’43 over their countryman Maffei. In 4th, Ign! acio Cas ale trails the leader by more than 5 hours!


Motorsports Mondial


Dakar Rally, The legend of Iquique

Built on the dizzying height of a steep descent with an average gradient of 32% over 2 kilometres of sand. On arriving at the summit of this gigantic dune, the riders and drivers discover a breath-taking view over the Pacific Ocean. They then hurtle down to the bivouac at frightening speeds: the quickest bikers at around 150 kmph whilst Robby Gordon is said to have been clocked yesterday at more than 190 kmph. However, for those arriving at night, it is a completely different affair. In principle, those who reach the descent very late have, by definition, already experienced a tough day. Such was the case for Juan Dibos, who took on the descent in a car already damaged after being rolled, and with co-pilot sporting an injured shoulder: “I was feeling fairly good, but I took it slowly at 40 kmph”. His Peruvian countryman, Jesus Lopez, who finished this feat a little earlier, admitted a moment of apprehension on heading over the dune’s crest: “You can’t even imagine what there is afterwards. It’s like a leap into the void”. Michel Saumet, whose rapid assistance duties tend to cause him to err by caution, takes a similar view: “At night, it’s really scary. I went down at 15 kmph”. However, the Dakar has room for all types of temperaments, even in the middle of the night: “It’s easy. We went straight down without braking,” claimed Claudio Hidalgo and Sebastian Palma.

F1Weekly podcast # 544

Photo: Francois Flamand


Dakar Rally Stage six Fiambala-Copiapo has been cancelled

Due to the bad weather continuing over the Andes Mountain Range (rain and snow), the Chilean authorities were forced to close, for the night, the border at the Paso de San Francisco pass, situated at 4700 m.

For the 7th time, the Dakar is about to cross over the Andes, and because of very unfavourable conditions, added to the fact that the course has been hit by rain and snow, in order to guarantee the security of the competitors and those following the rally, the organisers have decided to organise a convoy for all vehicles tomorrow. The itinerary has been changed after the border (follow the main road on the right which goes to Diego de Almagro).

Dakar Rally San Juan

Despres, already a winner in San Juan on the Dakar’s last visit in 2010, won again today, taking advantage of a major navigational error by Coma to take the lead in the general standings. Nani Roma won his 15th stage on the Dakar and his 3rd in the car category. His team-mate Holowczyc, who is starting to make a collection of second places, nonetheless took control of the general standings.

Endurance alone is not sufficient without a little attention to detail. On the Dakar, this point was proved by Cyril Despres, who took command of the general standings and won the day’s stage by remaining calm and collected. In terms of performance, his confrontation with Marc Coma for a long time seemed like a game of ping-pong: advantage to the Frenchman by 20 seconds at CP1, then to the Spaniard by 14 seconds after 117 km. The likelihood of a slender victory for one rider or the other seemed to grow as the stage went on. However, opening the road is never an easy task. At the junction between the routes dedicated to the bikes/quads and the cars/trucks, after 164 kilometres of racing, Coma made the wrong choice and followed the car/truck route for more than 4 kilometres. Despite his efforts to try and make up for this lost time, his about-turn cost him 13 minutes at the finishing line. On completion of this 27th special stage victory, Cyril Despres now finds himself leading the rally with an advantage of 10’12” over his biggest rival.

The brave challengers to Coma and Despres once again had to admit that there is a chasm separating them from the two men. In the end, Frans Verhoeven picked up 2nd place on the day’s special. The performance was encouraging for the new Sherco that he is riding, but the Dutchman still came in 8’37” behind Despres, whilst Paulo Gonçalves took only 2 seconds more. More importantly, the lesson about being calm and collected, two essential qualities on the Dakar, was a tough one for two pretenders to the podium, who will be leaving the rally by the back door; or rather by his assistance truck for Jakub Przygonsky, whose engine blew after 68 km, and by the medical helicopter for Quinn Cody, who broke his collar bone following a spectacular fall after 173 km of the special stage.

It is just as vital to be consistent and regular on four wheels, where even the smallest of mistakes can cost several precious minutes. Stephane Peterhansel made significant progress at a decent pace in the special, enabling him to put in the best intermediate times at the 41 km and 163 km points. However, in the last 50 kilometres, the main favourite in the car category was halted twice by punctures. In the end, he lost more than 6 minutes to Nani Roma, who took it upon himself to offer the X-Raid a second victory for a Mini on the Dakar, after the one achieved by Novitskiy on the first day. What’s more, the German team can be happy with its day’s work, since Krzysztof Holowczyc, who was second today, takes the lead in the general standings.

As regards, the race hierarchy, there is still plenty of competition because Robby Gordon, with the day’s 5th best time on the special, holds on to 2nd place in the general standings, only 54” behind the Polish driver. Also, whilst the Hummer has been able to keep up with and even dominate most of the Minis, the potential of the Toyota Hilux is also starting to be conveyed by progress in the standings. In his own discrete and efficient way, Giniel De Villiers completes the provisional podium, made up of 3 different teams. The winner of the Dakar 2009 is only 1’40” behind Holowczyc in the general standings.