Setting out from Lima, Peru on the fifth day of January, a field of 448 vehicles raced across difficult to tame South American terrain for one of the world’s most extreme rally competitions. Housing cars, trucks, motorcycles and quad all-terrain vehicles, the 2013 Dakar Rally was 14 stages of punishing uncertainty.
A journey between 8,121 and 8,574 kilometers depending on the vehicle class, teams were tested physically as well as mentally. On January 19th, the 2013 edition of the Dakar event concluded with a 630-kilometer trek from Le Serena to the finish line in Santiago, Chile. Though everyone able to bring their vehicle to the finish achieved a great accomplishment, a few who survived the 2013 Dakar Rally proved supreme to their competition. Honoured the following day in Santiago, the best of the 2013 event stood on the podium with the greatest recognition for their efforts.
In the high-profile car class, it was the Mini All 4 Racing piloted by Stephane Peterhansel that bettered everyone opponents. Along with co-pilot Jean Paul Cottret took the class lead overall in the second stage and did not turn back. Driving conservatively through the late stages of the Dakar Rally, Peterhansel placed no higher than fourth place in the last four daily standings. Despite this, Stephane Peterhansel won his fifth Dakar Rally in the car category and eleventh time when combining his motorcycle victories during the 1990s. Peterhansel dedicated the win this year to the memory of a past team manager Jean-Claude Olivier from the years of motorcycle class dominance.
Finishing second, 42 minutes and 22 seconds behind, Stephane Peterhansel’s entry was the Red Bull-backed Toyota Hilux occupied by Giniel De Villiers and co-driver Dirk Von Zitzewitz. Finishing third in the car category was the Russian pair of Leonid Novistkiy and Konstantin Zhiltsov in a second Mini.
Aside from the podium finishers in the late days of the 2013 Dakar Rally, a standout was an orange no. 315 Hummer. American driver Robby Gordon proved exceptionally strong in the final four stages of the car class. Winning two daily stages and finishing second in another driving a Hummer, Gordon’s early struggles in the 2013 Dakar Rally perhaps cost him a chance at the event.
For the 2013 Dakar Rally bike category, celebrated French rider Cyril Despres recorded another victory in the event. However, Despres’ 2013 effort was by no means a runaway on the Red Bull-sponsored KTM factory team. After suffering a 15-minute penalty when an engine was changed on his motorcycle, Cyril Despres was down in fifth place at the end of stage eight. Resilient, the Frenchman in the second half of the Dakar Rally demonstrated some solid riding over the South American terrain. In just two stages, Despres’ KTM raced into the lead and held off fellow Red Bull KTM rider Ruben Faria by just over 10 minutes.
Since 2004, the French motorcycle competitor has not finished lower than 3rd place in the Dakar Rally including what is a fifth win in 2013. “Of course every win at the Dakar is special but this one stands out for me because it is the first time I have been able to defend my title.”, said Cyril Despres noting his victory in back-to-back years is a particular accomplishment. Ruben Faria recorded his personal best overall effort in the Dakar Rally in six attempts by recording a runner-up position in his KTM. In fact, KTM motorcycles dominated the final results in the bike category taking the top five spots. United States motorcycle competitor Kurt Caselli finished in 31st place overall in the 2013 Dakar Rally after recording two stage wins in this event.
In a dominant style similarly demonstrated by the overall winner in the car category, the 2013 Dakar Rally’s quad class saw Argentina’s Marcos Patronelli claim victory riding a Yamaha. Winning with a 1-hour, 50-minute advantage over the class runner-up, Patronelli celebrated a second Dakar Rally overall win on a quad.
In the truck category, Red Bull-sponsored Kamaz 4X4 vehicles grabbed the top-three podium positions at the end of 14 stages of competition. Eduard Nikolaev was the driver of the winning no. 501 vehicle finishing 37 minutes ahead of teammate Ayrat Mardeev despite not winning a single daily stage. Andrey Karginov brought the third Red Bull-based Kamaz across the line just 47 seconds behind Mardeev. Nikolaev’s win in the truck category of the 2013 Dakar Rally is his second career.
Red Bull sponsored race machines claimed two of the four classes in this year’s edition of the Dakar Rally. Able to celebrate the victorious efforts of Cyril Despres and Eduard Nikolaev, the loss of the two Qatar Red Bull Rally Team buggy racers in competition when the middle of the event comes as a crushing disappointment. Carlos Sainz and Nasser Al-Attiyah will have to wait until next year to mount a refreshed challenge on the rally’s car category.
The first major auto racing event of 2013, the Dakar Rally concludes in fantastic style as an ultimate off-roading endurance test.
Here’s a highlights video from Red Bull:
Information and photo source: Amaury Sport Organization, BMW AG, Red Bull, Toyota Motor Corporation