The glamour and the dust and grease and the sweat have come and gone, and the 2016 Dakar Rally is now logged into the books.
The contest saw 218 vehicles, breaking down to 84 motorcycles, 23 quads, 67 cars and 44 trucks, race through the hills, rivers and jungles of Argentina and Bolivia, from Buenos Aires to Rosario. The racers encountered the typical hazards, as well as mechanical challenges, and local perils, such as villagers re-routing sign posts just for sport.
It’s a grand spectacle, to be sure, watching well-funded race-happy playboys fight for the glory of the win, and the legendary status of Dakar champion. It may be the last great jaunty adventure in the world of motorsports; one that harkens back to the days of seat-of-your-pants adventure and pure grit.
This year, Stéphane Peterhansel claimed his sixth win in the car category after another six in the motorcycle race for a grand total of twelve. Mister Dakar, the leader of the Peugeot dream team that dominated the race with nine stage wins out of twelve, expanded his gravitas with a symbolic victory that restored the Lion brand to its former glory 26 years after Ari Vatanen’s last win at the wheel of a 405.
For motorcycles, it was Toby Price out front. He won the most prestigious rally raid in the world in his second participation. “It’s an amazing record,” he shouted at the finish in Rosario. “To be the first Australian to win the Dakar in all divisions is crazy.” The 28-year-old described a studious approach, making all the right choices in negotiation the course.
The Patronelli Brothers dominated in quads, and killed any doubts on their ability to stage a comback in the race. Alejandro and Marcos were competitive throughout but some bad luck fro competitors certainly helped their campaign.
In trucks, it was Gerard de Rooy and Iveco in the lead. Defending champion Ayrat Mardeev, as well as last year’s number two, Eduard Nikolaev, fought bravely, but in the end they were dethroned.
Photo credit: Youtube