Stephane Peterhansel wins 13th Dakar title
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French Rally Raid veteran Stephane Peterhansel completed yesterday’s short final stage of the Dakar Rally in Argentina without incident to continue his remarkable record in the marathon event.
It was 13th Dakar victory for Peterhansel, 51, who prior to the 2017 event already had six wins on motorcycles and six in the car category. All of his wins on four wheels have been achieved in partnership with co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret.
The French duo have competed together on every Dakar since 1999 and equally as remarkable as their winning statistics is the fact they have only retired only two occasions in their 18 attempts.
Peterhansel’s competition came from within the powerful Peugeot team with nine-time world rally champions Sebastien Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena emerging as a major threat on their second Dakar start.
Loeb won five of the special stages and kept Peterhansel under pressure for the full distance, eventually losing time with a puncture on the penultimate stage and falling short by just 5m 13s after taking a narrow win in the final stage.
"My duel with Sébastien was intense and also quite stressful. At the same time, we had tremendous fun driving," said Peterhansel.
"It was never easy because Sébastien is a proven champion and extremely fast, and he has plenty of experience of managing from in front, so it was never straightforward for us, as can be seen by the small gap that separated us at the finish.”
Peugeot team-mates Cyril Despres (a 5-time motorcycle winner) and Stephane Peterhansel attempt to account for their combined total of 18 Dakar victories. Photo / Supplied
Third place went to Peugeot’s Cyril Despres (France). A five time Dakar motorcycle winner, Despres was making his third start on four wheels and claimed his first podium and first stage victory this year.
It was dominant Peugeot performance with the V6 diesel powered two-wheel-drive 3008DKR with the only blemish being the accident that took Carlos Sainz (Spain) out of the event. Apart from the opening stage win by Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota Hilux), every stage of the rally saw the fastest time set by a Peugeot driver.
Spaniard Nani Roma finished fourth in the best of the 5.0-litre V8 Toyota Hilux 4WDs for Overland Racing but he was 1h 16m 43s behind the winning Peugeot.
The late rally battle for fifth place saw South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers (Toyota) edge out Argentina’s Orlando Terranova in the best-placed X-Raid Mini by just 2m 43s.
Two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner and reigning Pikes Peak Hillclimb champion Romain Dumas (France) was eighth in his older model Peugeot 2008DKR.
There was a podium sweep in the Motorcycle category for the KTM marque which extended a winning streak that began in 2001.
KTM riders Matthias Walkner (left), Sam Sunderland (centre) and Gerard Farres Guell (right) swept the Motorcycle podium. Photo / Supplied
British rider Sam Sunderland took the lead of the event in the first week and with a clear margin he adopted a strategic approach as his rivals experienced mixed fortunes. At the finish, Sunderland won the bike category by 32m 00s from Red Bull KTM team-mate Matthias Walker (Austria) with Spanish rider Gerard Farres Guell taking third, also on a KTM.
Yamaha’s Adrien van Beveren was fourth while Joan Barreda Bort (Spain) and Paulo Goncalves (Portugal) - two of the Monster Energy Honda riders hit by a 60-minute penalty of day six - recovered to finish in the fifth and sixth positions.
Yamaha swept the top six places in the Quad category with Russian Sergey Karyakin taking the win on his fourth attempt at the event, a clear 1h 14m 51s ahead of Chile’s Ignacio Casale.
The Russian Kamaz Master team celebrate a Dakar 1-2 finish in the Truck category. Photo / Supplied
The Russian Kamaz Master team claimed its seventh Dakar Truck category success since the rally moved to South America in 2009. An impressive pace in the closing stages pushed Eduard Nikolaev to the top of the leader board to win by 18m 58s from team-mate Dmitry Sotnikov while 2016 winner Gerard de Rooy (Netherlands) was third for the IVECO Powerstar team.
For the first-time side-by-side UTV competition models had a class in the Dakar with Polaris R-ZR 1000XP machines proving the dominant force. Brazil’s Leandro Torres was the inaugural UTV class winner by more than four hours from China’s Wang Fujiang.