2013 Dakar Rally: Complete Report
The 15-day Dakar Rally, one of the most gruelling races in the world, commenced from Lima, Peru and continued through the Argentinean landscape before culminating in Santiago, Chile. In its 34th edition, this year's Dakar Rally witnessed Stephane Peterhansel and his co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret successfully defend their 2012 Dakar title driving a privately entered Monster Energy X-raid Team MINI Countryman ALL4 to victory with a solid 42:22 minutes advantage over their nearest rival. Taking overall second place was Giniel de Villier driving his Toyota Hilux followed by the MINI Countryman ALL4 of Leonid Novistky.
Covering a total distance of over 8,500km, the pair took lead early on in the race from the second stage and maintained it until the end without facing any major breakdowns to take home the top honours. This achievement brings Peterhansel's victory count at Dakar in the four-wheeler category to five, beating Ari Vatanen's 25-year record of four Dakar wins. The Frenchman first won the Dakar Rally in 1991 on a motorcycle and followed it up with five more victories on a bike before moving to the car category, which makes him the undisputed champion with a total of eleven Dakar titles!
The MINI Countryman ALL4 driven by Peterhansel was made to look like the road-going Countryman on the outside but the two cars shared no parts at all. Built from carbon fibre bodywork over a steel frame, the MINI was powered by a straight-six BMW 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine producing 310PS of power and 700Nm of torque transferred to the wheels via a six-speed sequential gearbox designed by Sadev.
Bikes - Austrian accomplishment
In the motorcycle class at this year's Dakar Rally, it was Peterhansel's compatriot Cyril Despres who added yet another brilliant win to his CV bringing his Dakar total to five titles. Riding a Red Bull KTM machine, Despres only won stage three but his consistency to finish in the top places handed him overall lead from stage ten of the 2013 Dakar Rally, which he then maintained until the end to finish 10 minutes and 43 seconds ahead of his team-mate and second place finisher Ruben Faria of Portugal. Third place was claimed by a Francisco Lopez of Chile once again riding a KTM motorcycle.
It was an all KTM wash out at the 2013 Dakar Rally with the Austrian machines taking top five positions in the overall standings reinstating KTM's dominance in the event. The highest finishing machine from other manufacturer was the sixth placed Yamaha of Frenchman Oliver Pain while Honda, which re-entered Dakar this year after a 24-year hiatus, finished in seventh place in the hands of Helder Rodrigues of Portugal. Despres team-mate at KTM and 2011 winner, Marc Coma was forced to retire out of this year's rally due to a crash in the Morocco Rally late last year.