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Dakar Rally 2018 results – Sainz wins

Lee Stern
21 Jan 2018

Results and reports from the 2018 Dakar Rally.


Page 1 of 2Dakar Rally 2018 results – Sainz wins

The 40th Dakar Rally kicked off on 6 January taking competitors on a two-week long excursion through South America from Lima, Peru to Cordoba, Argentina. Over the course of 14 stages Carlos Sainz doubled his tally of Dakar titles.

Consistent with the rally raid competition format, the Dakar remained a multi-day race event made up of long off-road stages. The participating vehicles included cars, trucks, bikes and quad bikes run by manufacturer works teams, private individuals and standalone motorsport outfits. Of course, our coverage of the Dakar focused on the car-side of things. For a full day-to-day report, rundown on headline competitors and their cars read on below.

Stage reports

Stage 14 – Cordoba

Only 55% of the competitors across all categories had made it to the final stage in Cordoba; a 75-mile gravel sprint to the finish. Toyota Gazoo Racing SA bested Team Total Peugeot collecting 1st and 3rd through De Villiers and Al-Attiyah respectively, and Peterhansel split the pair, just, finishing a second ahead of Al-Attiyah.

Sainz claimed his second Dakar title crossing the line 9th. ‘I’m so, so happy. We managed to do it. I think I deserved this victory because we have put lot of effort into this car. I’ve had ups and downs, but I always tried my best. Especially this rally, it has been so, so hard. I don’t know if I’ll be back next year. Now I have to enjoy this victory, go back home, speak with my wife, with my family and then we will see,’ said Sainz.

Al-Attiyah finished runner-up edging out his teammate De Villiers, while Peterhansel had to settle for 4th place failing to add to his 13 titles. Przygonski was the best of the rest outside of Peugeot and Toyota taking 5th overall for X-Raid. This year’s rally marked Peugeot's last, following three wins in as many Dakars since 2016. Its exit from the Dakar has prompted Sainz and Peterhansel to consider participating in future Dakars, too.


Stage 13 – San Juan to Cordoba

The penultimate special stage packed dunes, fast tracks and a testing section of fesh-fesh (a quicksand-like terrain) into 229 miles between San Juan and Cordoba.

Al-Attiyah beat Lucio Alvarez – also in a Toyota Hilux – to stage victory with De Villiers rounding off the top three. Team Total Peugeot’s performance was below par: Sainz drove cautiously to 6th, knowing nothing other than a DNF would prevent overall victory, while Peterhansel collided with a tree knocking out his power-steering, forcing him down into 20th. X-Raid’s Przygonski extended his string of high-placings collecting 4th, however Ten Brinke’s impressive progress was halted by a mechanical failure, prematurely ending his stage.

Overall, Peterhansel was the big loser, dropping from 2nd to 4th with Al-Attiyah and De Villiers moving into 2nd and 3rd respectively – Sainz still led the way by a considerable margin. With the shortest special stage of the rally to come, the last chance to make significant time and places had past.

De Villiers described the stage as one of the most difficult so far. ‘This stage was like survival. Physically, mentally and even for the car, it was an unbelievable stage. I haven’t seen a Dakar this crazy for a long time. It’s certainly one of the hardest since we have been in South America’.


Stage 12 - Fiambala to San Juan

With organisers cancelling the stage for the quad and bike categories, due to unfavourable conditions, those competing endured a tough day tackling changeable terrain including sand, soil and rocky tracks on the Dakar’s longest special stage. The route stretched for 325 miles though Argentina from Fiambala to San Juan.

Team Total Peugeot’s lead driver, Carlos Sainz, finished 9th after transmission problems left him with one gear by the stage’s end. Trying to capitalise on Sainz’s mechanical misfortune, Al-Attiyah surged to stage victory ahead of Peterhansel and De Villiers respectively. Ten Brinke couldn’t replicate the previous day’s success coming in to claim 5th. However, it was a proud day for X-Raid’s Orlando Terranova, who drove his Mini Rally to 4th on home soil.

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Sainz’s overall lead over Peterhansel was cut to 44min with just two stages remaining. Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Al-Attiyah remains 3rd with his teammate’s Ten Brinke and De Villiers in-tow, respectively. Przygonski is the best of the rest – outside of the Toyota/Peugeot entrants – sitting in 6th with a sizeable gap to the drivers placed either side of him in the general standings.

Sainz spoke of the difficulties he encountered and reiterated there was still plenty of time for things to change. ‘We had a difficult stage again. We had a puncture and then we had some gearbox problems, but everything is fine because we’ve finished the stage which is the important thing. We were stuck in third gear at the end of the stage so we stayed in third. But there’s still two more days… two more days’.

For a recap on earlier days head to page 2.

Dakar drivers

The mix of cars and drivers should ensure the competition will be as fierce as ever with 105 driver and co-driver pairings in the car classes this year. Team Total Peugeot will be fielding a strong driver lineup: thirteen-time Dakar winner Stephane Peterhansel, nine-time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb and Carlos Sainz Snr – father of Torro Rosso F1 driver Carlos Sainz – will all pilot their own Peugeot 3008 DKR Maxis.

Many other drivers with plenty of Dakar experience will be returning in their search for further glory. Nasser Al-Attiyah is hoping to complete a hat-trick of victories while driving for Toyota GAZOO Racing SA, and X-Raid’s Nani Roma will want to build on his past success in the Mini John Cooper Works Rally having won in 2014.

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Driving the X-Raid John Cooper Works Buggy, Bryce Menzies, three-time Trophy Truck champion in TORC (The Off-road Championship) has been tipped for success. He had planned to race in the 2017 installment but a crash and the resulting injuries rendered him unfit for entry, but he comes into this year’s race with quiet expectation.

Dakar cars

Peugeot 3008 DKR Maxi

The Maxi is an evolution of the 3008 DKR that gifted Peugeot victory in 2017. The biggest change has seen the suspension track widened by 200mm to improve the Maxi’s stability and handling. Mid-mounted within the Maxi’s steel tubular spaceframe chassis is a 3-litre twin-turbo diesel engine producing 335bhp and 590lb ft of torque. It drives the rear-wheels through a six-speed sequential gearbox. With a 400-litre fuel tank, the Maxi should be able to push towards its 124mph top speed for long periods.

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Mini John Cooper Works Rally/Buggy

Two derivatives of Mini will be taking on the Dakar, the all-new Buggy and returning Rally. Both have a BMW straight-six diesel engine producing 335bhp and 590lb ft of torque, but whereas the Rally has a four-wheel drive system, the Buggy is two-wheel drive. Engineering efforts haven’t centered exclusively around the new Buggy though, for this year’s event the Rally has revised suspension and is lighter, too.

Toyota Hilux

The Hilux has reverted to four-wheel drive after a two-wheel drive setup was used in the 2017 car, but the gearbox and naturally aspirated V8 engine have been recycled. The powertrain has, however, been reconfigured to improve performance. The suspension has also been modified to accommodate the change to four-wheel drive, now permitting more suspension travel to improve body control.

Borgward BX7 DKR

The Borgward BX7 gets a petrol engine developing 370bhp and 406lb ft of torque which is deployed through a four-wheel drive system. The presence of twin dampers at each corner should further aid traction by keeping the tyres in contact with the ground more of the time compared to single damper units. The rear brakes, manufactured by Brembo, are water-cooled to maintain optimal operating temperatures and thus maximise braking performance.

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Dakar Rally Histroy

Left in awe by his experience in the Libyan desert during the 1977 Abidjan to Nice rally, Thierry Sabine wanted to return there with a rally of his own. He persuaded 182 competitors to sign up for the inaugural Paris Dakar Rally in 1979 and join him on a 6,000-mile journey, passing through five countries over two continents. As you have probably guessed, the race starting in Paris, France and finished in Dakar, Senegal.

While the eponymous start and finish points were fixed for Paris Dakar rallies up until 1992, the route often changed. From 1993, the start and finish locations began to vary as well, with South Africa, Spain and Portugal all featuring. Africa always constituted the bulk of the route up until 2008. In that year, a terrorist attack in Mauritania forced organisers to cancel the event as the route was planned to pass through that country. Since then, the ‘Dakar Rally’ has been held in South America.

Mitsubishi has become the most successful car manufacturer in Dakar history with twelve wins, double that of Peugeot which has the second most. Stephane Peterhansel is the most decorated Dakar driver and rider in history with thirteen victories. His first win came with Yamaha in 1991, before he went on to claim more titles with Nissan, Mitsubishi, BMW, Mini and Peugeot.

Page 1 of 2Dakar Rally 2018 results – Sainz wins

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