Igniting the competitive fires of motorsports for 2014, the Dakar Rally is now underway in South America. Crossing through the countries of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, the 2014 Dakar Rally is entering the fifth day of a 5,281-mile journey. Just like in previous years, purpose-built cars, trucks, dirt bikes as well as quad ATVs will tempt two difficult tasks; survive and win the off-roading challenge that is the Dakar Rally.
Heading into the 2014 edition, the headline-making car and motorcycle classes features defending Dakar race winners seeking a third-consecutive victory. Riding a KTM 450, French rider Cyril Despres is looking for his sixth Dakar title. A former motorcycle rider turned car driver, France’s Stéphane Peterhansel joins the 2014 Dakar Rally once-again as a pilot of the #300 MINI All4 Racing vehicle (based on the Countryman) alongside long-time navigator Jean-Paul Cottret. History shows the #300 MINI will be the individual to beat for victory of the great rally Peterhansel is one of only two Dakar competitors who have won in the motorcycle and car classes of the event. Stéphane Peterhansel is the only person to win both categories on repeated occasions. In all, Peterhansel’s name appears in the race’s win column 11 times in total. A 2014 victory will hand the French driver of the MINI All4 Racing a sixth car title.
From what is revealed in the early stages of the 2014 Dakar Rally, reigning competitors of the car and motorcycle categories is facing a worthy opposition. In sixth place overall after four stages, Cyril Despres is chasing pace-setting Spanish rider Joan Barreda Bort on a Honda. In the car class, Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret are currently running over 18 minutes behind heading into the fifth stage. Taking an early lead in the car category is Carlos Sainz. A two-time World Rally Championship champion, Sainz returns to the Red Bull sponsored SMG buggy for the 2014 Dakar Rally. Making its debut in last year’s event, the rear-wheel drive SMG buggy exhibited exceptional speed but lacked endurance.
Since the first trek in consisting of a 3,438-mile trip across the European and African continent in the 1970s, the Dakar Rally has boasted some big numbers. Revealing the scale of the event, the following statistics provides some greater idea to the size of Dakar 2014:
Information and photo source: BMW AG, Safelite Autoglass