The rally Dakar 2018 came to an end after a journey that spanned two weeks and 9.000 kilometers through Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. The race enshrined the Spanish as winners Carlos Sainz (Peugeot), in cars; the austrian Matthias walkner (KTM), on motorcycles; the Chilean Ignacio Casale (Yamaha), on quads; the russian Eduard Nikolaev (Kamaz), in trucks; and the brazilian Reinaldo Varela (Can-Am), on UTV. Here are the ten keys to this 40th edition of the toughest race in the world.
THE PERUVIAN DUNES. The return of Peru to the Dakar itinerary after five years gave this edition the amount of sand that the previous versions lacked. The participants had to overcome the enormous Inca dunes and avoid falling into the “ashtrays”, huge holes in the middle of the sandy hills. The toughness of the part of this competition was noted: there were 72 dropouts.
CANDIDATES OUT. The Peruvian part of the Dakar left several drivers on the sidelines of the competition. Among them, three who aspired to fight for victory in their respective classes: Sam sunderland (KTM), Dakarian motorcycle champion in 2017; Sébastien Loeb (Peugeot), who was looking for victory in his third participation in the test; Y Nani Rome, the main figure of the MINI team. The Englishman fell and injured his back in the fourth stage (San Juan de Marcona-San Juan de Marcona). The Spaniard surpassed a danger zone at great speed on that same fourth day - according to him, it was poorly marked - and suffered head and neck trauma. While the Frenchman jumped a dune in the fifth stage (San Juan de Marcona-Arequipa) and hitting the ground his navigator Daniel Elena fractured his tailbone. Due to the Monegasque's injury, the crew had to desert.
CANCELED STAGES. The ninth stage between Tupiza and Salta was canceled due to the threats of bad weather in the Bolivian region that could complicate the pilots and teams to reach the first camp in Argentina. Stage 12 between Fiambalá and San Juan was also canceled, although only for motorcycles because there were many flooding rivers due to the rains of the previous days.
ABSOLUTE DOMAIN. The victory of Ignacio Casale in ATVs it was never in doubt. The Chilean, who took first place in the general classification from the start of the race, made a good difference with his rivals in the Peruvian arenas and took advantage of the abandonments of his main opponents, such as the Pole. Rafal sonik and Russian Sergei Sariakin (Yamaha), to achieve their second success after the one achieved in 2014.
FIGHT CLOSED. Although Eduard Nikolaev He seemed to have everything under control after crossing Peru and Bolivia, upon entering Argentina he had to defend himself from the Argentine attacks Federico Villagra (Iveco), who even led the overall. So rough was the battle that after the 12th stage (Chilecito-San Juan) the difference between the two became only one second in favor of the Russian. The dispute ended the next day (San Juan-Córdoba) with the abandonment of Villagra, who was charged with a complaint for having loaded fuel in a prohibited place.
BATTLE FOR GLORY. The two-wheel category was the most contested of all due to the large number of riders who alternated in first place in the general classification. The list of leaders was made up of Sunderland, the Spanish Joan Barreda Bort (Honda), French Adrien van beveren (Yamaha), the Argentine Kevin Benavides (Honda) and Walkner. The first three defected due to injuries: Sunderland fell and injured his back; Barreda Bort suffered a sore left knee and Van Beveren broke a clavicle. Thus, the race was defined between Benavides and Walkner, who went on to lead in stage 10 (Salta-Belén) when the Argentine and seven other riders were lost. Thanks to the triumph of the Austrian, who won in his fourth participation in the Dakar; KTM extended its reign by achieving its 17th consecutive win in the sport.
HISTORICAL RESULT. Although he was left with the desire to achieve victory, the Argentine Kevin Benavides secured a place in Dakar history. Thanks to second place in motorcycles, he became the South American rider who came closest to a victory. To date, that honor was held by Chileans Carlo De Gavardo (2001) Francisco "Chaleco" López (2013) y Pablo Quintanilla (2016), who reached the third place
COMPLAINT. The Dutch businessman Kees Koolen, an ATV participant and founder of Booking.com, accused Carlos Sainz of crashing it at full speed in the seventh stage (La Paz and Uyuni). After analyzing the case, the sports authorities penalized the Peugeot driver with 10 minutes. However, three days later the sanction was lifted thanks to telemetry data from the Madrid's vehicle, which verified that Koolen's words were far from reality and that the moment they were together on the road, Sainz was marching 37 km away. / h.
THE GREAT RESCUE. As usual, the Dakar delivers thousands of success stories. One of the most striking of this edition was the one starred by the Spanish Jordi Juvanteny, José Luis Criado and Javier Tamayo, crew of a truck of the KH-7 Epsilon Team. They were stuck in an "ashtray" in the second stage (Pisco-Pisco) and were only able to get their vehicle out three days later thanks to the help of a D8K Bulldozer with a front shovel and 35 tons of weight that opened a path between the dunes. .
VICTORIOUS FAREWELL. Peugeot He closed his participation in the Dakar with the triumph of Carlos Sainz, the third in a row he achieved in this modern era after the two of Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel (2016 and 2017). In total, the French brand achieved seven successes in the Dakar taking into account the four achieved by the Finns Ari Vatanen (1987, 1989 and 1990) and Juha Kankkunen (1988).