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Rear View Mirror 1-9-17

John Schommer
Monday, January 9, 2017

 

Dakar 2017

There are few things that present the majesty of the world and the human endeavor to conquer it with machines better than the Dakar Rally. For me, there just isn’t anything more epic in the world of motorsport. This year, 491 racers in 316 vehicles from 43 brands will race nearly 5,000 miles over some of the most magnificent and challenging terrain across three countries within South America. And they’ll do it in just 14 days.

 

For the first time ever in the history of the Dakar, Paraguay becomes part of the journey. Asuncion, Paraguay will be the starting point, and this marks the 29th country to become part of a Dakar Rally route. Changes to navigation, strict enforcement of communication rules, and much of the rally taking place at altitudes greater than 10,000 feet could make this one of the toughest rallies ever.

 

Absent from the rally this year is American Robbie Gordon in the cars category, and the Patronelli brothers from the quad category. There was also some team swapping, with 2015 Dakar-winner Nasser Al-Attiyah switching from Mini to Toyota. These factors all change the playing field, but by no means gives anyone an advantage.

 

If you are looking for a good place to stream Dakar Rally 2017 coverage, I have to go with Red Bull TV. The company’s succinct and well-produced coverage delivers all you need to know about what happened during the day’s stages. And even though they are a top sponsor with vehicles in almost every category, the coverage was all about the rally, not just the brand.

 

In case you are somewhat new to the Dakar Rally you can watch this video for a brief on its history which began in 1978.

 

 

Yesterday marks the halfway point of the rally. As expected, the unexpected has affected the races of many competitors. Some big names have dropped out. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers so far in this year’s race.

 

The Losers

After achieving three podiums, including a win with Mini, Nasser Al-Attiyah was driving a Toyota Hilux this year in one of the two superteams. Sadly for Al-Attiyah, his troubles started on the first day with a fire in the engine bay that set the team back. Then in the third stage, the Hilux hit a hole and ripped a wheel off, causing them to lose more than two hours. The final blow saw the team abandon the rally due to the damage being too extensive to repair, with no chance to be competitive.

 

KTM rider, and last year’s bike class winner, Toby Price took a bad spill in Stage 6 and broke his femur in four places. Needless to say, that ended the rally for the Red Bull rider. Price was airlifted to a hospital in La Paz where he began a long road to recovering. Price was leading Stage 6 when he crashed and had already won a previous stage.

 

Rally legend and 2010 Dakar winner Carlos Sainz crashed his Red Bull Peugeot 2008 DKR into a ravine just three miles from the end of the fourth stage. The stupendous crash nearly took out two spectators who were taking video footage at the time of the crash. While no one was seriously hurt, and the Peugeot made it to the end of the stage, Sainz did suffer a lower back injury and the vehicle was deemed too damaged to repair.

 

For a look at some of the other crashes caught on video take a look at these clips.

 

 

The Stage 6 bivouac and the sixth stage have to go in the loser’s category since they both suffered from outrageous weather conditions. The stage from Oruro to La Paz was cancelled and the bivouac was a swampy mucky mess that shows Mother Nature is who really calls the shots at the rally.

 

 

The Winners

You have got to hand it to Red Bull Racing: this organization likes to win. They have the other superteam in the car category with the amazing Peugeot 2008 DKR buggy. Stephane “Mr. Dakar” Peterhansel, leads the overall standings at the halfway mark. A couple minutes back is multi-year WRC champion Sebastien Loeb. Then in fourth place overall is Cyril Despres who has won the Dakar Rally on two wheels five times. Talk about stacking the deck.

 

Despite the loss of Al-Attiyah, Toyota is still looking good and not out of reach of winning in 2017. As of this writing, Nani Roma was in fifth place, only five minutes behind fourth place. Fighting his way back from being an hour back Giniel De Villiers is now in third place. With another six days of stages to compete, this is by no means over.

 

Don’t count out Mini either. The manufacturer’s top driver Mikko Hirvonen is in fourth place and there are seven Minis in the top 20.

 

Then there is the Acciona Eco- Powered car. So far so good, they have finished the seventh stage in their third attempt at the legendary rally. So far the electric and solar-powered car has not gotten past the 11th stage. They’re near the end of the category, but their goal, like many competitors, is just to finish the rally.

 

 

At the Half-Way Point

There are hundreds of stories to tell about the trials of the Dakar. Each one is its own journey of testing man, woman, and machine against the toughest terrain and elements the world can put forth.

 

At the end of the seventh stage here are how the rankings stand by class:

 

Cars Brand Bikes Brand Quads Brand Trucks Brand
Stephane Peterhansel Peugeot Ricky Brabec Honda Sergey Karyakin Yamaha Dmitry Sotnikov Kamaz
Sebastien Loeb Peugeot Paulo Goncalves Honda Axel Dutrie Yamaha Ton Van Genugten Iveco
Giniel De Villiers Toyota Sam Sunderland KTM Ignacio Casale Yamaha Federico Villagra Iveco

 

You can also check out the official Dakar Rally half-way summary:

 

 

That’s it for this week Forza fans. Catch me tomorrow on the Tuesday Stream on Beam and Twitch where I will be taking on Rivals times and giving away a bunch of Ken Block posters to celebrate the latest edition of Heavy Metal Affliction where we interviewed Block himself.

 

Photos courtesy of Red Bull Media.