A South American journey that christens the marvellous spectacle we know as motorsports for a new year, the 2014 Dakar Rally has been a gruelling 12-stage event across intimidating terrain. When the field of quad ATVs, motorcycles, cars and trucks set out from Rosario, Argentina on January 5th, the 2014 Dakar Rally pitted competitors up against long stages where extreme heat and some difficult trails. After 5,281 miles of travel, the remains of a robust field of two-wheeled and four-wheeled vehicles arrived in Valparaiso, Chile. In the prestigious car category, the 2014 edition of the rally was once again a high point for MINI. However, it took the final stage of this Dakar Rally to settle the class victor.
Heading into the 13th and final stage, Stéphane Peterhansel in the #300 Monster Energy sponsored MINI ALL4 Racing vehicle held a narrow 3 minute, 38 second lead over teammate Joan “Nani” Roma. The last 378 kilometers of the 2014 Dakar Rally proved challenging for the Frenchman Peterhansel. In a stage resulting in Giniel De Villiers winning the final 2014 Dakar Rally stage in a Toyota Hilux truck, the MINI ALL4 Racing vehicles received the headlines. Achieving only a 13th fastest time in the stage, Stéphane Peterhansel fell to Roma. Roma’s fourth place finish allowed him to gain an over nine minute advantage on his Monster Energy X-Raid Team comrade. Crossing the finish line holding a mere 5 minute, 38 second advantage after the 5,281-mile run, Spanish driver Nani Roma and navigator Michel Perin of France wins the Dakar Rally after several strong performances including a second-place overall among cars in 2012. Nani Roma had previously won the Dakar Rally as s bike rider for KTM in 2004.
Missing out on a 12th Dakar title, Stéphane Peterhansel rests in the middle of a 1-2-3 finish for MINI in the car category. 2011 Dakar Rally winner in the car class Nasser Al-Attiyah placed third in the event. If not for a one-hour time penalty, Al-Attiyah could have been in a close competition for a second Dakar win. The penalty resulted from missing a waypoint on the race’s 10th stage. Giniel De Villiers crossed the finish line in Valparaiso in fourth place breaking dominance for the MINI All4 Racing vehicle.
The car category is featured some high profile retirements in the latter stages of the event. A total of eight cars retired on stage 10 of the Dakar Rally including the #030 SMG Red Bull Buggy driven occupied by Carlos Sainz and navigator Timo Gottschalk. Suffering chassis-related damage to their race vehicle on the previous stage, Sainz and Gottschalk withdrew from the rally after winning two stages. Before the retirement, the #303 SMG Red Bull Buggy was in eighth place fighting back from some slow stages. Also worth mentioning, American driver Robby Gordon was only two stages away from completing the 2014 Dakar Rally in his Team Speed Energy Hummer.
In the bike class, victory in the 2014 Dakar Rally went to Marc Coma riding for KTM. The Red Bull sponsored #2 KTM competitor won three of the event’s final six stages. Coma has won the Dakar Rally on three previous occasions in 2006, 2009 and 2011. Five-time winner in the Dakar bike category Cyril Despres completed the rally fourth in the class.
The quad and truck category in the 2014 Dakar Rally featured two first-time winners. Providing nationalistic pride for South American residents, the quad group was led by Chile’s Ignacio Casale riding a #251 Yamaha to victory. Casale won 7 of the event’s 13 quad stages. Driving a Kamaz, Russian Andrey Karginov remained consistent to win the truck class. Navigator Andrey Mokeev and mechanic Igor Devyatkin accompanied Karginov in the winning #506 vehicle.
Information and photo source: Amaury Sport Organization, BMW AG