There was no containing the outpouring of emotion at the finish line of the 2017 Dakar Rally. All offroad racers making it to the end of this year’s edition have stood up extreme weather and terrain on an unprecedented scale. With this being widely regarded as the toughest Dakar ever to be held in South America it should be no surprise that the teams rich in experience came out on top.
Team Peugeot Total absolutely dominated the car category from start to finish and have been rewarded with a clean sweep of the podium positions. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA) successfully defended their title to give Monsieur Dakar his 13th Dakar win (six in bikes and now seven in cars). The back-to-back champions were pushed all the way by team-mates Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (MON) who finish as runners-up in only their second attempt at the race. Also learning on the job are Cyril Despres (FRA)/David Castera (FRA) and the pair of former bikers have backed up their Silk Way Rally win with the final spot on the 2017 Dakar podium.
Doing their best to keep pace with the Peugeot 3008 DKRs were former winners Giniel De Villiers (RSA)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) of Toyota Gazoo Racing who had to settle for fifth place overall. Also coming inside the Top 10 were the MINIs of Kuba Przygoński (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) and Mohamed Abu Issa (QAT)/Xavier Panseri (FRA).
Things changed but also stayed the same in the bike contest as Sam Sunderland (GBR) became the first British winner of the Dakar as he handed the Red Bull KTM Factory Team their 16th consecutive title. Sunderland and team-mate Matthias Walkner (AUT) kept their cool despite never having previously finished a Dakar to maintain the proud reputation of KTM at motorsport’s toughest test of endurance.
Among the best of the rest were Hélder Rodrigues (PRT), a ninth Top 10 finish, tefan Svitko (SVK), Top 25 despite receiving more than four hours in time penalties and Anastasiya Nifontova (RUS), the female biker conquering the Dakar on her first attempt. There were also encouraging performances from CS Santosh (IND) and Bolivian biker brothers Walter Jr. and Daniel Nosiglia Jager who gave their home fans plenty to cheer.
Peterhansel’s victory in the car race brings him level with legendary Russian trucker Vladimir Chagin (RUS) as the pair now both have seven single category wins. Since retiring from competition Chagin has been the mentor to Team Kamaz Master’s new generation of drivers. The first of these young guns to win multiple Dakars is Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) who has added success this year to the title he won in 2013. Dmitry Sotnikov’s (RUS) fine performance ensured that Kamaz occupied both top steps of the final truck podium.
Ignacio Casale (CHL) was full of emotion as he crossed the finish line to take the runners-up spot in the quad race behind Sergey Karyakin (RUS). It’s been a long road back from injury for the Chilean who won the Dakar in 2014 and at the finish line in Argentina he struggled to contain his feelings after fighting back onto the podium.
Everybody involved in the 2017 Dakar Rally will not forget this race in hurry. The routes and bivouacs have been pounded by extreme climatic conditions and any competitor making it to the end will have had to have summoned superhuman strength. We salute all involved with the event and look forward to more drama to come on the 40th anniversary of the Dakar in 12 months time.
Provisional Top 3 Results
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA) – PEUGEOT 3008 DKR, 28h49m30s
2. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (MON) – Peugeot 3008 DKR, +5m13s
3. Cyril Despres (FRA)/David Castera (FRA) – Peugeot 3008 DKR, +33m28s…
1. Sam Sunderland (GBR) - KTM, 32h06m22s
2. Matthias Walkner (AUT) – KTM, +32m00s
3. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP) – KTM, +35m40s…
1. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) – KAMAZ, 27h58m24s
2. Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) – KAMAZ, +18m58s
3. Gerard De Rooy (NLD) – IVECO, +41m19s…
1. Sergey Karyakin (RUS) – YAMAHA, 39h18m52s
2. Ignacio Casale (CHL) – YAMAHA, +1h14m51s
3. Pablo Copetti (ARG) – YAMAHA, +4h20m19s
Stéphane Peterhansel #300: For the last week it was a fight for the lead between Séb (Loeb) and me. In the end I was able to come out on top but the gap is still very little and I had to rely on small details such as Séb’s puncture yesterday. I had to use all my experience to get the win this year. There were parts of the race where I know I’m not as fast as Séb, but experience told me I would have other chances to make time. Next year will be the 40th anniversary of the Dakar so that’s something to look forward to.
Sébastien Loeb #309: We have done a much better race this year compared with last year, especially because this year it was much more complicated. We had a few minor navigation mistakes but nothing major so that helped us a lot. We fought with Stéphane (Peterhansel) during the entire race and it was good fun to be pushing hard on each stage. I think 1-2-3 for Peugeot is a great result.
Cyril Despres #307: It’s a good feeling to be back on the podium because it has been three years until now. When you train all year for this race and you love like I do then you want to come away with a result to be proud of. I have two great drivers in front of me so it’s not just any mountain I need to pass but a Mount Everest of a challenge. I know the challenge that is in front of me to get by these guys and that is what I’ll try to do.
Giniel De Villiers #302: Obviously we’re a little bit disappointed but you have to give big congratulations to Peugeot because they deserve their success. We didn’t quite have the pace so maybe we have to switch to two-wheel drive in future to compete with them. All in all it was a very tough Dakar with plenty of navigation which is good. It was a pity that two stages got cancelled.
Kuba Przygoński #316: It’s our second Dakar in a car and we finished in seventh place so we are happy with this result. It was a hard Dakar with challenging navigation and terrain and together with my co-driver Tom Colsoul we managed these problems well. Our speed is growing and this is important for what we want to achieve in the future.
Sam Sunderland #14: When I crossed the line my emotions really took over. I’ve had a lot of weight on my shoulders for the last six days. Now it feels incredible. I have to say thanks to my team, the bike has been great from start to finish. When Toby (Price) went out of the race it was a blow to the team as he’s a good friend. Because of the strong bonds we have in our team it helped us to pull together and strive to do something special. There’s a lot of fast guys that have the potential to win this race, I think cutting out the mistakes was the key to this win.
Matthias Walkner #16: This was a really rough Dakar so to arrive in Buenos Aires on the podium is an amazing feeling. I had a tough year last year so to be here now is a dream come true. The hardest moment came on Stage 10 because
there was the potential for my position to change on this day. I really studied that roadbook before the stage to hopefully get some advantage. That paid off for and it felt cool to get rewarded like that.
Hélder Rodrigues #5: It’s great to finish in the Top 10, but aim is to be at the very front. This year it was not possible for me to fight at the front of the race because I did not start so good. Every year our Yamaha team is getting more professional and the bike is improving. We will be testing and racing again this year to come back stronger.
Anastasiya Nifontova #59: It’s hard to say exactly how I feel. On one hand it’s happiness because I managed to finish this very tough race but on the other hand there’s sadness because this nice adventure has now come to an end. Now we have to wait one year until the next Dakar, so mixed feelings right now.
CS Santosh #42: It’s a great feeling to cross this finish line. We’ve been out racing for such a long time. It was tough the first time I did the Dakar but this time was even tougher. To come here and finish again, this time with Hero makes me really happy.
Daniel Nosiglia Jager #50: I can’t believe that I’m here with my brother at the finish line, it’s an incredible feeling. To even enter this race was a dream so to be here now having completed the entire route is fantastic. To be here with my brother makes it even more special.
Walter Nosiglia Jager: #66: I’m here waiting at the finish to see my father and brother come over the finish line. I’ll have to ask them what took them so long when they finally arrive! But seriously, the support we have all been given by the crowds in Bolivia was so special and made us all even more determined to finish this race.
Eduard Nikolaev #505: I am overflowing with emotions and I even teared up a bit when we crossed the line. Last year for us, for our crew, it wasn’t entirely successful, and this year we tried to change the tactics a bit. It was truly not an easy race, not an easy start. Unfortunately we couldn’t be up there leading at the beginning but thanks to our boss Vladimir Chagin and his strategy for the whole route, it’s been proven that Kamaz Master gets the job done.
Dmitry Sotnikov #513: I’m happy to have played my part in another Kamaz victory so we can bring the trophy back home once again. Now we’re already looking forward to next year’s rally because we have strong competitors who give us a good fight here. Winning my first Dakar stage is a memory that will always stay with me.
Ignacio Casale #251: Wow, I’m so emotional right now. I’ve had so many ups and downs at the Dakar and this is the best I have felt at the finish line. Winning in 2014 was great but after not being able to finish the rally the last two years means that crossing the line now is extra special, even if I have had to settle for second place.
Christina Gaither – Red Bull,