General Category => Off-Topic Lounge => Topic started by: kimmer on December 27, 2013, 02:07:45 PM

Title: DAKAR 2014
Post by: kimmer on December 27, 2013, 02:07:45 PM
It's almost here again.  The 2014 DAKAR Rally!
January 5th thru January 18th
ROUTE: LONGER, HIGHER AND TOUGHER!The fundamental principle for all the Dakar’s competitors to bear in mind is going the distance. And this year, the philosophy of extreme endurance will be particularly respected and developed with a total distance in the special stages which has not been covered for almost ten years. Every kind of driving will required to complete almost 5,000 kilometres: the variety of terrains will sometimes be an advantage for outsiders.

12/25/13: The vehicles of the European competitors reached Argentina after 19 days at sea and are now waiting for their owners to come and pick them up from Campana Port, starting on the morning of December 31.
Late November was a key point in the run-up to the Dakar, as drivers and riders scrambled to Le Havre to load their vehicles onto the cargo ship. The transatlantic crossing of the motorcycles, quads, cars and trucks was in sharp contrast to all this hustle and bustle, under the watchful eyes of the crew of the Grande Roma and Dakar competitors turned sailors Luc and Simon. The sea was as smooth as glass throughout the entire trip, and the ship docked at Campana Port (80 km from Buenos Aires) right on schedule in the night of Sunday to Monday. About 30 dockers and 23 members of the Dakar teams then busied themselves with unloading the vehicles. It was a long, long day of little DIY tweaks and parking contests. Jean-Marc, who oversaw the procedures, told us about the problems which came up: "After three weeks at sea, some tyres are deflated and some batteries have run dry. This was a recurrent problem this year. Although we made a big effort to get them running again, it took us a bit longer than usual. In addition to the race vehicles, there were the trucks and cars of the assistance crews, the organisers and the media: all in all, 700 vehicles waiting to be unloaded. We ended up closing the car park at 3 am!" The port's security service and three Dakar team members will watch over the vehicles at all times for a week, until the competitors come to pick them up from December 31 onwards.
The Dakar on tv: "Bringing the dream to those who cannot be there”, as Thierry Sabine said: this is the mission entrusted to the television channels that will broadcast the images of the Dakar to the rest of the world.

The images of the Dakar can surprise, shock and move people. As time has passed, they have conquered the channels of 190 countries, which invite their viewers to watch two weeks of travelling and sporting feats. On this scale, the broadcasting of the rally has reached out to the four corners of the earth and moreover is continuing to improve its audience figures, mainly in the countries directly involved in organising the event. As a result, the Pan-American broadcaster Fox Sports, a loyal partner since the race's African era, has been increasing its coverage and resources with each edition. In addition to its overall coverage, its Brazilian and, starting this year, Chilean branches are each day devoting dedicated programmes to their national representatives. In total, on the Dakar 2014, the teams working for Fox total 17 technicians, consultants and journalists, which is the second biggest contingent after the France Télévisions team of 25 people, for programme times of between four and five hours per day.

A newcomer to the route of the Dakar, Bolivia is also a rookie on the event through its public channel Bolivia TV, which, in addition to its daily programme, will be organising ambitious live broadcasts for the stages that the country will host. Revised and enhanced programmes will also be put in place in Paraguay (Téléfuturo), but also in Canada (Sportsnet, RDS), Poland (TVN), Slovakia (RTVS), Portugal (RTP), Italy (Italia 2) and Bulgaria (BNT).

To satisfy viewers' appetite for thrills, the production teams work each year on improving the quality and diversity of images broadcast, especially during the 26-minute long daily programme, produced with exceptional resources and in record times. Aerial views, interviews with the major players in the race but also amateurs, as well as historical and technical features are just some of the subjects that each day make up a menu that viewers can savour in front of their screens.

Whilst the Dakar attracts television cameras, the written press, radio stations and agencies also flock to the race in large numbers. Their photographers and reporters travel by plane or in press cars. In total, 400 permanent journalists are granted passes to cover the event.

• 3 helicopters and 5 TV cars on the tracks.
• 13 cameramen positioned along the race's sites, 11 on-board camera systems, 2 super slow-motion cameras (1,000 images per second), 7 satellite antenna, 21 editing suites.
• 45 tonnes of equipment.
• 250 people.
• 120 hours of programmes, 7.5 hours per day including 1 hour 30 minutes of live broadcast.

Title: Re: DAKAR 2014
Post by: kimmer on December 30, 2013, 01:34:46 PM
Dakar 2014 Teaser: Robby Gordon & BJ Baldwin Sneak-Peak

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Title: Re: DAKAR 2014
Post by: kimmer on January 07, 2014, 01:45:32 PM
Sunday 5th January
•Liaison sections: 629 km
•Special stage: 180 km

Establishing their position
The competitors will wake up early to set off along the road in the region of Cordoba and start the race on some narrow tracks which will require the utmost vigilance. Each one will still be very fresh allowing them to tackle the stony sections or the blind jumps serenely. The competitors’ driving skills will be rewarded at the finish, where they will have already clocked up 800 kilometres. Although the gaps will not be significant at this stage of the race, it is nevertheless important to maintain their position in the part of the standings that they are aiming for!

BARREDA KEEPS IT UP, SOUSA PUSHES THE ENVELOPE: Everyone expected the motorcycle competition to be wide open, and that is indeed what the classification shows after the opening stage. Joan Barreda posted the fastest time of the day, with no fewer than four different manufacturers in the top four: Marc Coma, Cyril Despres and… Alain Duclos with his Sherco. Meanwhile, Carlos Sousa sprang a surprise by beating the Minis for the stage win in the car category. On the other end of the spectrum, today was a black day for Gordon, Guerlain Chicherit and BJ Baldwin. Mardeev prevailed in the truck category.

What was already a certainty has now been confirmed! Joan Barreda surely deserves his reputation as the fastest rider in the world. The former Husqvarna rider who moved to Honda in the middle of the season inaugurated his 2014 Dakar with an acrobatic performance. The fast, winding courses on the programme of today's special in the Córdoba area seemed tailor-cut to the Spanish stage hunter, who also used his favourable starting place (no. 3) to his advantage. He inched closer to Marc Coma, who was riding in the slipstream of defending champion Cyril Despres. In the end, Barreda perched himself at the top of the general classification and grabbed the 6th special of his career... Not bad, considering he has taken part in 30.

Looking forward, one could be forgiven for thinking the trio of pre-race favourites, Barreda, Coma and Despres, has left the competition in the dust, with their most commonly cited rivals, Paolo Gonçalves and "Chaleco" López 2′25″ and 3′24″ down, respectively, and Hélder Rodrigues conceding almost 9 minutes to his Honda teammate. However, the Dakar saw its first surprise, as Alain Duclos caught the pundits unaware to finish fourth in today's stage, a mere 1′56″ slower than Barreda. The French rider had already said before the race that he was confident the changes made to his Sherco since last year would allow him to aim for the top places. Considering Duclos has not raced since the last edition, today's performance shows his boast was not an empty one.

The fastest quad riders in the field showed why they are the favourites on the same course. Last year's runner-up Ignacio Casale bolstered his claim to the crown by winning the opening stage. Although his margin is still razor-thin, the Chilean can be proud of beating defending champion Marcos Patronelli by 6″ to add a second Dakar stage win to his booty.

It is never a good idea to judge a driver's potential before he gets the chance to express himself on the course. On paper, race dynamics and the raw power of the 11 Minis on the start line left little hope for outsiders. And yet the competition fought back with one of the dark horses of the Dakar, who pipped Peterhansel, Al-Attiyah, Sainz and Roma for the stage win. Carlos Sousa, who has been exceptionally consistent since 2001 and has finished nine Dakars in a row in the top 7, took his sixth victory, this time at the wheel of a 4x4 built by the Chinese official Haval manufacturer. His last Dakar win dates from 2007, when the Portuguese rider triumphed in front of his home crowd at the end of a sinuous opening stage in Portimão.

A pleasant surprise for Sousa, but a bitter one for Orlando Terranova, another specialist of the technical courses typical of the Córdoba area. An 11-second deficit on the finish line meant the Argentinean had to settle for second, although he was the fastest driver in the Mini team —a hotly contested subclassification of sorts. Stéphane Peterhansel's puncture towards the end made him lose some time to Sousa and Terranova, but also to Al-Attiyah (third at +47″), Roma (fourth at 1′15″) and even Carlos Sainz (fifth at 4′03″). With six cars in the top 10, the X-raid Team can be pleased with the results. Things are less rosy for Giniel De Villiers, who had steering problems and lost almost 16 minutes to Sousa in San Luis. Robby Gordon was one of today's flops after starting the special half an hour behind schedule. The American is set to lose tonnes of time, although perhaps less than the two buggies in Eric Vigouroux's team, with Guerlain Chicherit and BJ Baldwin at the wheel. They both had to stop less than 20 km from the finish to repair problems with petrol evaporation.
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The battle among the trucks was also a lively one. At the end of the 180 km special, only a few minutes separate the big favourites. Mardeev's Kamaz won this winding stage, while a dubitative start led defending champion Nikolaev to finish fifth, four minutes down. With Loprais, De Rooy and Van Vliet in between the two Russians, the top 5 are separated by less than four minutes.

Car 301: NASSER AL-ATTIYAH: “Lots to learn about the car"
"It was a good day for us, a beautiful stage in which we didn't take too many risks. I caught up with Stéphane Peterhansel towards the end, he let me through and I think we ended up posting a good time. I'm happy with today's stage and hope to continue like this, although I've still got lots to learn about getting the car to do what I want it to. Actually, I'm not too happy with my suspension settings, which do not suit my driving style perfectly. But it was still a good day, I'm happy".

Car 305: ROBBY GORDON: "It's worrying!"
"I don't know what happened. Everything went smoothly when we took things easy on the link section, but from the moment we started the special, we had vapor lock problems and we had to stop. Then, all the other fluids started to overheat, so we had to stop at least five or six times... At the end, we had stopped for the umpteenth time when competitor no. 390 offered to tow us to the end of the special. Honestly, it's strange, I don't know why this happened. We'll have a look at it in the bivouac, although it's disappointing to lose two or three hours on the very first day of racing... It's worrying!"
Title: Re: DAKAR 2014
Post by: kimmer on January 07, 2014, 01:53:11 PM
Monday 6th January
-Motorcycles- Quads
•Liaison sections: 365 km
•Special stage: 359 km

•Liaison sections: 365 km
•Special stage: 433 km

•Liaison sections: 365 km
•Special stage: 400 km

Grey dunes go hand in hand with surprises!
The fastest special stage of the rally, at least for its first part, will also be the one where drivers will have to face the first dunes. And it won’t just be a brief encounter with sand: in the last 100 kilometres, the exploration of the grey dunes of Nihuil will be even more intensive than during previous visits. The sand is more firm there, but the experience will provide a great deal of insight about each of the competitors’ technical skills. In short it will be a veritable test.

A discrete but emerging rider in the discipline up to today, Sam Sunderland made a grand entrance into the club of elite riders by brilliantly winning his first special stage on the Dakar. The provisional podium, still dominated by Barreda, boasts two Hondas. In the car category, Stéphane Peterhansel took control of the race, picking up his 62nd stage victory, following Carlos Sousa's mishaps at the start of the special. In the truck race, Anton Shibalov won his first special stage, but Kamaz also lost one of their leading lights in Ayrat Mardeev.
Sometimes promises come into being before they are actually made. Until today, Sam Sunderland had occasionally made an impact on various legs of the rally-raid world cup, by picking up respectable finishes and even some stage victories. However, to date, he has had a frustrating time on the Dakar, dropping out after three days of racing in 2012 and withdrawing a month before last year, due to fracturing both his wrists! Despite this double dose of bad luck, the Honda team did not hesitate to reserve him a bike for its ambitious Dakar program. This inspired choice has been handsomely rewarded on only the rally's second day, with his dazzling victory between San Luis and San Rafael. Having started well behind his team-mate, Joan Barreda, the 23-year old Englishman superbly overtook Michael Metge and Juan Pedrero on the first part of the route. However, it was in the portion of dunes towards the end of the special that the resident of Dubai showed his youthful but confident and masterful experience of sand. On the finishing line he marvelously grabbed his first special stage victory, after only 4 days spent on the Dakar in total and can now claim to be a serious outsider for the podium… as long as he can maintain this excellent form and pace, as well as avoiding mistakes.

Joan Barreda did not make the slightest mistake either, today. Having opened the way, the Spaniard was not overawed by his status as race leader, keeping his pursuers at a distance before reaching the finishing line alone. His performance did not bring him the second stage win he was aiming for, due to Sunderland's superb feat, but it was by no means disappointing, since Marc Coma lost several minutes as well as the second place in the general standings, whilst Cyril Despres dropped to 8th place in the overall hierarchy, 8'23'' behind Barreda. In fact, the only current threat that intensified for the general standings leader today was that of Francisco “Chaleco” Lopez, who was the second quickest today, and the nearest challenger to the Spaniard, 2'03'' behind.

It has not taken long for order to be re-established in the quad category. Yesterday, Marcos Patronelli was beaten by Ignacio Casale, a serious challenger for the title. However, the title holder soon took control of the race. The Argentinean flag-bearer arrived in San Luis with an extra line on his roll of honour: it was the 15th special stage victory on the Dakar for the Yamaha rider, who boasts a lead of 3'50'' over his nearest rival, Lucas Bonetto.

With the same type of authority, but significantly less room for manoeuvre, Stéphane Peterhansel took up the position of leader, conquered on completion of a stage driven with the requisite doses of calm and aggression! It was perhaps this control of pace that was lacking for yesterday's winner Carlos Sousa, who ground to a halt after 33 km of the special, after breaking his turbo. The Portuguese driver, who is often among the most regular in the discipline, could paradoxically leave the race prematurely whilst having started the day in leading place. At the very least, between San Rafael and San Luis, he will have lost a considerable number of hours, robbing him of any hope of victory or even the podium in Valparaiso.

Whilst “Peter” regained his favourite place after two days of racing, the gaps have nonetheless shortened at the top of the general car standings, because the leader only has an advantage of half a minute over Carlos Sainz and his SMG buggy. Behind them, the top 5 is made up of three of Peterhansel's X-Raid team-mates. The presence in 3rd of Nasser Al Attiyah (4'10'' behind the Frenchman in the general), despite two flat tyres which obliged him to drive without a spare wheel for 100 kilometres, makes it likely that there will be one hell of a battle on the podium. The confrontation could still expand thanks to Nani Roma (4th, 4'19'' behind “Peter”) or even Orly Terranova, still within less than 10 minutes of the general standings leader.  Robby Gordon Finishes 28th In Stage 2.
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In the truck category, victory in the day's special went to Kamaz's Anton Shibalov, who won his first special stage in his first participation as a driver. However, the Russian team are finding it difficult to enjoy this success, since they lost Ayrat Mardeev (2nd last year), following a spectacular crash that forced him to drop out, and saw Eduard Nikolaev lose ten minutes, slowed down by electronic problems. The mishaps of the Kamaz team are a boost to Gerard De Rooy, 3rd on today's stage and in the general standings, but especially to Marcel Van Vliet, who takes the lead in the category, 1'49'' ahead of Shibalov.

CAR 304: NANI ROMA: “That's life and that's how racing on the Dakar is!”
The day didn't start very well. Straight away, I was behind Nasser (Al Attiyah) in his dust because he had a puncture. I couldn't overtake him until he had a second puncture. At that point, I overtook him and ended up in the dust of Orlando (Terranova). Then I had a puncture myself. But that's just how it is sometimes! There are days when everyone has to deal with their problems. After that, though, it was the toughest part: the dunes. My oil temperature was very high which meant I had to take care. I finished the last 60 km as best as I could. That's life and that's how racing on the Dakar is!

CAR 300: STEPHANE PETERHANSE: “It was a nice stage”
It was a nice stage, really fast at the beginning because the average was more than 100 kmph. It was a mix with a lot of fast tracks, then it was rios with a lot of rocks and the risk of getting a puncture. At the end there were also very nice dunes, but the navigation was easy in the dunes because there were a lot of people everywhere in the dunes. At the top of each dune, it was necessary to follow the public, so it was easy to do the navigation.

CAR 301: NASSER AL-ATTIYAH: “Three punctures!”
We are really lucky to finish because we started the day with three spare wheels and we had three punctures today. It was very hard and there were a lot of rocks. After the first 250 km, we didn't have any more spare tyres and we had to finish the stage without any problems. But, okay, I'm quite happy with the performance and it's still a long race.

CAR 303: CARLOS SAINZ: “was careful to stop the tyres wearing”
I think it was a good stage. We didn't have any problems and we just went through very fast. Some parts were very fast, there were some difficult dunes as well, but everything was ok. We didn't have any punctures. I was a little bit careful to stop the tyres wearing.
Title: Re: DAKAR 2014
Post by: kimmer on January 08, 2014, 02:01:33 PM
Tuesday 7th January
3: San Rafael - San Juan
Motorcycles – Quads
•Liaison sections: 292 km
•Special stage: 373 km

Cars – Trucks
•Liaison sections: 295 km
•Special stage: 301 km

The Aconcagua as a landmark
The competitors of the 2014 Dakar will experience their first taste of the mountains by passing through the Pre-Andes. The Aconcagua Volcano stands 6,962m high and will observe the progress of the vehicles, of which a part will rehearse their high mountain driving techniques. The motorcyclists will climb up 4,300 metres during their special stage, on a ridgeline where they will have the impression of towering over the whole of America! The descent will bring them back to the tough reality of the drivers of the Dakar, as they will only have finished the first part of this marathon stage. They will have to ensure the mechanics for their own vehicles at the isolated bivouac which has been set up for them.

In the lead since the start of the rally, Joan Barreda won his second special stage this year and now boasts a lead of more than 13' over Despres and Coma, the two other beneficiaries of a particularly decisive stage. The car race witnessed a perfect performance by Catalan driver Nani Roma in his Mini, who opened up a significant gap on his rivals, taking advantage of a bad day at the office for Peterhansel and Sainz.
Joan Barreda set a new record today. He became the first Dakar rider to reach an altitude of 4,300 metres on a special stage. This unofficial honour gave him an unbeatable preview of the spectacular landscapes on offer at this height in the Andes Mountain range. Although a keen geographer, it is most certainly the sporting performance he accomplished today that will satisfy the Spanish Rider. Impressive throughout the 243 km of a special stage slightly shortened in order to avoid unstable terrain on the first part of the route, “Bang Bang” again made a big impact, picking up his second stage victory this year after having opened the way for the majority of the day. With a lead of 4'41'' over Cyril Despres on arrival at the bivouac which marks the mid-way point in the marathon stage, Barreda opened a gap of 13'04 over the title holder. The Frenchman can consider himself to have enjoyed a good stage: 8th in the general standings this morning, he is now the closest pursuer of the race leader. This tough stage has thus revealed the best technicians in the discipline. The day's leading trio, like the podium in the general standings, was completed by Spaniard Marc Coma, who is 52” behind Despres.

Behind them, Alain Duclos and Chaleco Lopez are still in with a shout, less than 20 minutes behind, but there will already be plenty of disillusioned riders, even before they tackle the evening on their own without assistance. The dream is over for Ruben Faria, who has dropped out of the Dakar after a fall, as well as for Frans Verhoeven, who injured his shoulder. Still stuck 30 km from the finishing line almost two hours after the leaders finished, Portugal's Paulo Gonçalves lost all hope of final victory and the highest step on the podium will be also inaccessible for Sam Sunderland and Juan Pedrero, who have still not yet finished at the time of writing. David Casteu can still hope for a place of honour, 22' behind the race leader, as can Olivier Pain, who lies 36' behind. It will however be very difficult for Helder Rodrigues, relegated to more than an hour of his team-mate Joan Barreda after just 3 stages!

The route to the isolated bivouac in Barréal also proved to be cruel in the quad category, which lost its emblematic champion. Marcos Patronelli was forced to drop out after suffering from dehydration. The hopes for the title have also evaporated for Lucas Bonetto, who was still stuck 100 km from the finishing line at the end of the afternoon. Rafal Sonik has benefitted from their misfortunes, inheriting both the stage win and the lead in the general standings.

We left the car category yesterday amidst a classic closing of the gaps between the major players in the general standings at San Rafael. Peterhansel, after controlling the stage, sat atop the general standings followed closely by Carlos Sainz, a comfortable second in his SMG buggy. The tracks to San Juan blew apart this hierarchy in which Al Attiyah was waiting to pounce in 3rd place in the general standings. This was due to the perfect stage driven by Nani Roma today. The Catalan just missed out on winning the first stage, but made up for that today, on a different route to the bikes, leaving some of the major challengers for final victory at a distance that was, while not decisive, definitely respectable. Carlos Sainz is now 4th, 12'02'' behind and Stéphane Peterhansel lies in 5th, 24'08 behind his team-mate. As a result, the strategic situation has completely changed. Under the gaze of the Aconcagua Mountain, the horizon lit up for many of those harbouring ambitions following the nightmare day experienced by the former general standings leader and his Spanish pursuer. Having taken a deviation due to a swollen river, Peterhansel and Sainz lost their bearings and even more in the case of ‘Peter' who had a series of punctures. Whilst Nani Roma has made an initial breakaway in the race to Valparaiso, his closest rival is a driver who loves attacking, Argentinean Orlando Terranova, 9'06 behind, whilst Nasser Al Attiyah, another speed specialist, lies 10 minutes away, promising some lively special stages to come.

In the truck race, Andrey Karginov triumphed on arrival in San Juan. This sixth stage victory in his career does not enable the new leader of the Kamaz team to close in significantly on Gerard De Rooy, who leads the general standings, with an advantage of almost 20 minutes over his countryman Marcel Van Vliet.

CAR 304: NANI ROMA: “Sometimes the Dakar is crazy!”
You know, sometimes the Dakar is crazy and this stage was like that. The drivers in front of me had some problems and I tried to be really concentrated all through the stage and not make mistakes. Anyway, I've got here and I'm happy, but on the Dakar Valparaiso is still far. We need to be like that and really concentrate every day.

CAR 303: STEPHANE PETERHANSEL: “terrible day… we had 6 punctures!”
It really was a terrible day for me. Since I've been driving a car I've never had punctures like today. We had 6 punctures. One at the beginning was my fault because we hit a big rock, but after there was some modification in the road-book and it was necessary to cross some vegetation. I was the first car and I think because I ‘cleaned away' a bit of vegetation, after this place I had two or three slow punctures. I think it was a small piece of wood inside the tyre. What can I do? It was necessary to cross the vegetation and I was the first car. After that I think that for the other cars it was a little bit cleaner and easier but it was too late for me.

CAR 305:  ROBBY GORDON: “You never know what happens...”
The sad part is that it's only been fuel issues. I don't know if they've changed the blend with the chemical, but we've basically got the same set up as we had last year. We put some additive in last night, changed some rodding and some lines and today we didn't have any problems. We weren't as hot and high as we were when we had the problems on the first two days. It's unfortunate because it's a good race truck. We made up twenty eight minutes on Peterhansel right there so that will take us down from three forty-eight to three fifteen... If we do that a couple more times then you never know what happens...

Title: Re: DAKAR 2014
Post by: kimmer on January 09, 2014, 01:57:24 PM
Wednesday 8th January
Motorcycles - Quads
•Liaison sections: 210 km
•Special stage: 353 km

Cars - Trucks
•Liaison sections: 211 km
•Special stage: 657 km

Mountains and countrysideThe strategy of the motorcyclists will come into play: initially their navigational skills will be seriously tested at the beginning of the morning, and then they will be faced with the problem of worn tyres, as they have already been over-used the day before. As for the drivers of cars, they will have an even more demanding route to tackle in the countryside. The Dakar’s competitors haven’t faced a special stage this long since the historical one from Zouerat to Tichit in 2005! They will have to cross rivers, descend the canyons in a Wild West setting and beware of the other participants: as these terrains are often wide open, it will be entirely possible to overtake fellow competitors.

Stage 4 of the 2014 Dakar saw Juan Pedrero take his maiden win at the end of a special which dealt Cyril Despres' prospects a severe blow. The Frenchman slipped down the general classification after conceding over 40 minutes to his rivals. Carlos Sainz, who turned the race on its head after spending the entire stage on the attack, grabbed the win and leapfrogged Roma to take the overall lead.

After a few stages in which he had let Joan Barreda steal the limelight during Francisco "Chaleco" López decided enough was enough and pounded his fist on the table during the fourth special, part two of the motorcycles' marathon stage. The Chilean rider pulled out all the stops from the beginning and led the way at each CP. Even though it was not good enough for a twelfth Dakar stage win, his strong ride allowed him to claw back lots of time. Meanwhile, Spain's Joan Barreda lost precious minutes due to a navigation error, although he managed to limit the damage by pushing his motorcycle hard towards the end. He now holds a slim lead in the general classification, 3′10″ ahead of Marc Coma, who produced a virtuoso performance in today's stage. Just behind them on the course was Juan Pedrero, who showed he has outgrown his previous role as Marc Coma's lieutenant at KTM by lighting the fireworks and bringing his Sherco across the finish line 29″ faster than López. The Catalan rider, no longer an overall threat, took his maiden Dakar win in Chilecito.

The fourth day of the 2014 Dakar was also a rude awakening for some of the big names, including the defending champion himself. Cyril Despres maintained an ideal pace throughout most of the stage but blew up with about 12 kilometres to go and could only watch as his rivals and other nearby riders disappear into the distance. The five-time winner now has a 41-minute deficit to Barreda in the general classification. With a history of amazing comebacks, it is too early to write Despres off, but his task has just become even more difficult than he had imagined. A real downer for sure, but Despres was still luckier than stage 2 winner Sam Sunderland, who had to give up after the engine of his Honda broke down.

The Matador gains the upper hand

Nani Roma set off from San Juan at 7:20 am local time, opening the road as the leader of the car category. Two timed sections (217 and 284 km, respectively) and a 157 km timed section later, the man at the wheel of the no. 304 Mini reached Chilecito as Carlos Sainz's second-in-command in the general classification. The car race was turned on its head again as Carlos Sainz and his SMG buggy blasted the hierarchy established in yesterday's puncture-marred stage into smithereens. The Spaniard went flat out from beginning to end to take his 26th Dakar win. No-one was able to match Sainz's pace, with second place going to an astonishing Stéphane Peterhansel, who never gave up despite multiple punctures, and third place going to another daredevil, Nasser Al-Attiyah, 13′19″ back.

The big loser of today's stage was none other than Nani Roma, who lost the overall lead after finishing fourth, 14′08″ behind his rival from Madrid. Although he is still very much in the race (second, 2′06″ behind Sainz), today's special laid bare Roma's limitations. The narrow gaps at the top, with Al-Attiyah at 6′56″ and the fiery Terranova at 13′08″, set the stage for a clash of titans, with Peterhansel (fifth at 18′10″) ready to bounce back into the fray.

The truck race saw another epic fight, with Gerard de Rooy coming out on top. The Dutchman's 26th career win at the Dakar, his second this year, strengthens his grip on the lead. Nevertheless, his 26-minute margin still leaves the race wide open, especially for second-placed Marcel van Vliet. Even tiny problems can quickly become big when driving a truck…


CAR 303: Carlos Sainz – “everyone made the same mistake”
At the beginning we had to drive in the dust, but little by little we managed to overtake several cars. We also got a bit lucky when, about 10 km before the finish, our power steering broke down in a narrow spot amid all the vegetation, but we easily made it to the finish all the same. In the second part there was a waypoint where we went right, but after a while we realized it had to be on the other side, so we headed left and we found it. No big deal, I think everyone made the same mistake.

CAR 302: Giniel De Villiers – “Today was a matter of surviving”
It was a good day, but we had too many mechanicals! Once again, we had trouble with the power steering! The first part of the special went quite smoothly, but after 100 km in the second part we started to have problems with the steering power and we had to stop. In all honesty, I was quite amazed at our advantage over Sainz and Peterhansel, but it quickly melted away as we spent almost 15 minutes doing repairs. When we got going, we still had an oil leak in the pump of the power steering. We had to stop another four or five times to refill it with all the oil we had, but it wasn't enough. In the end, we were lucky a spectator gave us some oil to get going again, or we'd still be there. So, all in all, today was a matter of surviving.

CAR 304: NANI ROMA – “We spent the entire day in front”
"I'm very, very happy. Today's stage was difficult to navigate. We spent the entire day in front. The others must have gained lots of time on us because of this, but that's the way it is, I'm happy to be here and tomorrow will be another day."

CAR 300: STEPHANE PETERHANSEL – “We went the right way from the beginning”
Things didn't start very well this morning. We had a flat tyre after 30 km! Not the best way to start the day. So we decided to set a consistent pace to try and avoid making mistakes. Towards the end, there was a waypoint that was quite hard to find, but we went the right way from the beginning by U-turning to look in the right direction, which helped us not to lose too much time. And, in the end, we did quite well.

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Title: Re: DAKAR 2014
Post by: kimmer on January 10, 2014, 01:52:03 PM
Thursday 9th January
•Liaison sections: 384 km
•Special stage: 527 km
A sleepless night in Tucuman!
After two race days with completely separate routes, everyone will gather together to tackle the longest stage of the rally. They will need to be extremely resistant to overcome these two sections of the special stage which will primarily feature sand. All day long the competitors will make headway on off-piste sections: those who have poorly assessed the limits of their engine will constantly be on the verge of overheating and all the more so, as the region’s temperatures are generally very high. At the bivouac in Tucuman, the candidates for the podium will have been whittled down to a select few, as many of them will no longer be a part of this elite group. For many others, their timing and mechanical mishaps will only become apparent in the middle of the night.

Marc Coma, the three times winner of the event, put distance between himself and his rivals on the day's stage, which was partially shortened due to the extreme temperatures threatening the safety of the bikers. His neighbor Nani Roma regained the lead of the car race, with more than half an hour's lead over his closest rival, Nasser Al Attiyah. Gerard De Rooy protected his lead in the truck race and now boasts a lead of more than half an hour over Andrey Karginov, his closest pursuer.

After four days of racing, a good number of the favorites on the Dakar have already suffered for various reasons or even returned home in some cases. Marc Coma, however, chose the morning of the 5th stage to burst into action and strike a major blow against all his rivals, whether named Cyril Despres, already in difficulty the day before, or Joan Barreda, who ground to a halt on the route to Tucuman. After having overtaken “Chaleco” Lopez then Juan Pedrero, the winner of yesterday's stage, the KTM leader re-asserted his status by putting an impressive distance between himself and his pursuers. On completion of the first part of the special stage, a 211-km long section, the comeback king, who had to miss out on the Dakar 2013 due to an injured shoulder, avoided the many traps into which fell Paulo Gonçalves (who dropped out after his bike caught fire) or Cyril Despres (overheated engine, navigation errors, etc.). Since cohesion is a sacred concept for the Catalans, it was natural that his closest pursuer was none other than his water carrier, Jordi Viladoms, 13 minutes behind. A gap was opened on Despres, who finished 45 minutes later; on Barreda and Pain, who lost out in similar proportions; and on Lopez, who trailed in more than 50 minutes after.

The situation seemed to take a turn for the worst at the start of the second section to be covered, due to a leak spotted on the petrol tank of his KTM. However, when on form, Coma enjoys luck as well as his talent. A quick-fix repair carried out with Viladoms already put a small smile back on his face before, several minutes later, the news was announced that the second section of the special stage had been cancelled, meaning the times at the end of the first section stood for the stage results. In total, the day seems to be an excellent one for Coma, because he now only has three rivals positioned within less than an hour in the general standings, namely Joan Barreda, “Chaleco” and Jordi Viladoms, respectively 41'10'', 53'40'' and 58'58'' behind.

The quad category witnessed the same modification to the program, but without seeing such a significant sea-change in the standings. Ignacio Casale retains the lead of the general standings, but his closest rival is now Sergio Lafuente, who added his third special stage victory to his roll of honor, overtaking Rafal Sonik to take the bottom step of the virtual podium.

In the car category, there was also very strong Catalan accent to the stage, with a first-class display from Nani Roma, assisted by a faultless performance by is co-pilot Michel Périn from Reims in France. Since the last Dakar, their crew has remained unbeaten, winning the Bajas in Hungary and Spain as well as the Desert Challenge (in Abu Dhabi) and the Desafio Ruta 40 (in Argentina). The duo continued in this sparkling form today, Roma taking care of pace and agility whilst Périn was inspirational in his navigational duties which were particularly beneficial today. On the finishing line, the first Spanish winner of the Dakar (in 2004 on a bike) beat Giniel De Villiers, the only driver to limit the damage with a finish 4'20'' behind the Catalan. The FC Barcelona supporter, looking well set in his conquest for the title, had reason to be happy about the mishaps of the most decorated Real Madrid fan on the Dakar: Carlos Sainz had a nightmare on the day's special. Having left Chilecito in the lead, he ground to a standstill after 163 km due to an electrical problem on his buggy. On the first section of the special stage, “El Matador” Sainz had already lost 1 hour and 15 seconds to Roma, enabling the Catalan to emulate his favourite club's dominance of El Classico against Sainz's team.

The confrontation was not restricted to an all-Spanish duel as four Minis found themselves in the top four places of the general standings in Tucuman. Drawing on his experience, Roma will firstly have to handle the verve of Nasser Al Attiyah, who trails him by 26' but has not given up the ghost. “Orly” Terranova is only 4 minutes behind the Qatari and will be aiming at moving up the provisional podium. It is also certain that Stéphane Peterhansel, trailing Roma by 39' for the moment, will not content himself with 4th place, especially under the threat of Giniel De Villiers, who lies in 5th place, 41' behind the general standings leader. Finally, the Americans can rejoice for the first time this year, with the third best time of the day for Robby Gordon, finishing 20 minutes behind Roma. Robby definitely has his eyes on a special stage victory…
2014 Dakar Rally Stage 5: Robby Gordon
The never-give-up attitude of American’s Robby Gordon and Co-Driver Kellon Walch, along with the entire SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires team, was rewarded today with a near flawless Stage
The never-give-up attitude of American’s Robby Gordon and Co-Driver Kellon Walch, along with the entire SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires team, was rewarded today with a near flawless Stage. It resulted in the first podium finish of the 2014 Dakar Rally and a hard-fought third- place finish, 20 minutes and 12 seconds behind Stage-winner Nani Roma of Spain.
The Rally continued in Argentina Thursday, taking competitors from Chilecito to Tucumán. The originally scheduled 527-kilometer Special was shortened to 428 kilometers due to safety concerns. Gordon would use the shorted Stage to his advantage remaining in the third position through the finish at kilometer 428 giving the SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires team something to be proud of entering Stage 6.
The HST Gordini and Gordon started one of the most difficult Stages in the Rally from the 14th position, 42 minutes and 16 seconds behind the leader and wasted no time moving past car after car. At kilometer 48 Gordon had already gained seven positions just 2 minutes and 16 seconds behind the leader.
Being down nearly 4 hours will make Friday’s Stage 6 quest from Tucuman to Salta even more important for Gordon and the SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires team have a great finish leading into the rest day Saturday. The course will head north from Tucuman following part of the renowned Ruta 40 into some of the most beautiful landscapes Argentina has to offer leading to the finish in Salta where competitors where will be able to enjoy a much-deserved rest day.
In the truck category, the special stage was won by Dmitry Sotnikov, but the general standings are still dominated by Gerard De Rooy, who is now pursued by three members of the Kamaz team: Marcel Van Vliet lost his second place, dropping away to at least one hour from his countryman.

CAR 300: Stéphane Peterhansel – “The hardest stage since we have been in South America”
Probably today it was the hardest stage since we have been in South America, since the last five years. It was not easy. There was a lot of off-track camel grass and also the navigation was not easy, so we lost a lot of time because we didn't find a way point, but at least we are here at the finish.

CAR 302: Giniel De Villiers – “pretty good day”
We had a pretty good day except in the first part of the special with the way point where everyone was really looking for the place. The good thing is that we did not have any power-steering problems today, but unfortunately we lost our brakes 15 km from the finish. We stopped and tried to see what the problem was and it looks like there's a problem at the back. We stopped for about one and a half minutes to have a look and obviously just had to come in slowly because my pedal is completely on the floor. It was a very tough day today – really hard for the car. I think a lot of guys will maybe sleep out there in the desert tonight

CAR 304: NANI ROMA – “Let’s wait and see”
I'm happy with the day, but it was hard, probably one of the hardest stages that I've ever driven. We tried to do our best and to just get through it. We got stuck in the sand a bit, but only lost ten minutes. The others had bigger problems than us. I'd like to thank Michel (Perrin) my co-pilot who is doing a great job. We're here. We're still alive, but there is still a lot of racing to do. Let's wait and see.

CAR 301: NASSER AL-ATTIYAH – “We still have ten days left”
From the navigation side of things it was very tough. What can we do? We lost a lot of minutes, but we are here and we still have ten days left. We'll try to do our best. We must really push a lot now. We'll see.

CAR 303: CARLOS SAINZ – “We had a problem finding the way point”
First of all we had a problem to find the way point. We couldn't find it. We need to check now what has happened because I think we have been passing really, really close… I don't know. Then as we were going up and down trying to find it at one moment we had a problem with the car. We had to stop and one of the electrical connections was coming out.

CAR 305: ROBBY GORDON – “What's another drink of water when you're drowning? One more sip isn't going to hurt”
I think is more than an issue with the car. We cruised the whole special and to finish third is amazing. We all searched around for the way point before the transfer on the special and we missed a way point. Carlos missed a way point. I think Al-Attiyah missed a way point, so that's going to put us all in a really bad shape. I was already in a bad shape, so what's that saying? What's another drink of water when you're drowning? One more sip isn't going to hurt.
(Robby is in 24th place overall as of Stage 5)

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Title: Re: DAKAR 2014
Post by: kimmer on January 14, 2014, 01:34:40 PM
FRIDAY 10th January
Stage 6: Tucuman – Salta
Motorcycles – Quads
•Liaison sections: 64 km
•Special stage: 400 km

•Liaison sections: 270 km
•Special stage: 424 km

•Liaison sections: 394 km
•Special stage: 156 km

The quest for the best time.
Once they have left Tucuman, the cars will head north and drive along part of the renowned Ruta 40, and continue on in the heart of one of Argentina’s most beautiful landscapes. The possibilities to widen the gap will be limited but the most skilled drivers may be able to seize the opportunity of adding a stage to their list of wins. A new trip to the mountains will take motorcyclists to the banks of the rivers. They will have to remain vigilant until the very end of the stage as the region is frequented to a great extent by animals of all sizes. Then they will finally be able to rest.

The 6th stage of the Dakar, marked by the announcement of the death of Belgian biker Eric Palante (see the special press release at end of this posting), was won in the bike category by Alain Duclos, eight years after his first victory in Bamako. Stéphane Peterhansel won his 63rd special on the Dakar and gained to within a little more than half an hour of Roma, moving into third in the general standings in the process. In the truck race, still dominated by Gerard De Rooy, Peter Versluis recorded the day' best time.

His triumph had been under preparation for some time. Since the start of the Dakar, Alain Duclos has been able to measure the competitiveness of his 450 Sherco, which has visibly accomplished enormous progress compared to last year. He has also improved in technical and physical terms, following a blank rally-raid season. Perfectly keeping pace with the best over the first 5 stages, with 3 top 5 finishes, the best performing outsider of the year had probably ticked off this stage as within his capacities of recognised scratch time hunter, given its endurance racing character. The 9th rider to start this morning, the Franco-Malian rider went on all-out attack, overtaking 5 riders and recording the best time on arrival near Salta, just like in 2006, when he won on home territory in Bamako, already with a gap of a minute over none other than Marc Coma… who also led the general standings.

If Duclos has put himself on the provisional podium, then he owes his progression to his improved riding skills and consistency, which another challenger for the title was not able to find this year. After 211 km, “Chaleco” Lopez crashed, annihilating his bike as well as his dreams of glory in Valparaiso. However, Joan Barreda, 4th today, only 2'22” behind Duclos, reaches the rest day on the second step of the provisional podium, ready to take advantage of the slightest error by Coma… on the condition that he makes a mistake that costs him 42 minutes…

In the quad category, Rafal Sonik stood out in the trio involved half way through the rally in the battle for the title. Without taking the lead in the general standings, the Polish rider took 54''off Sergio Lafuente, still in command with a lead of 22'. Ignacio Casale, the only competitor left to defend Chilean pride at the top level after “Chaleco” Lopez leaving the race,now occupies third place in the general standings, 24'04'' behind Lafuente.

Since the many problems experienced by Carlos Sainz yesterday, the dominant position of the Minis has become even clearer. The confident show of force by Nani Roma seemed to give him breathing space with a view to a first outright Dakar victory in the car category. However, the Spaniard witnessed his team-mate Stéphane Peterhansel gain time back on him a little quicker than was expected... and in a certain way even during the night: following the application of an hour's penalty to Sainz and Al Attiyah, the title holder jumped up one place even before getting in the car. This news obviously boosted “Peter” who started his climb back up the standings on the road to Tucuman. Symbolically, his 63rd special stage victory, equalling the record of Vladimir Chagin, sees him further grasp the status as master of the event. More importantly, with a view to a possible 12th title, it moves him to within 33' of Roma, who finished the stage 6' behind his French team-mate. Third in the race hierarchy on the rest day, Peterhansel is now behind Argentinean Orlando Terranova, who up to now has shown unflappable resistance in the face of the pressure exercised by his colleagues.

Today the trucks were racing on a shorter special (156 km). Gerard De Rooy accomplished his mission of protecting his position as general standings leader. It was also an opportunity for Peter Versluis, the 12th to start this morning, to pour all his effort into his performance and win his second special stage victory on the Dakar.


CAR 300: Stéphane Peterhansel – “The goal is only victory”
Today it was a really nice stage. The first part was like a WRC track, but in very nice landscape. It was close to the National Park and was really beautiful. On the second there was a little bit more vegetation, but also like a WRC, so today navigation was really easy. It was just a pleasure to drive and we tried to drive very fast today. We are third, I think and for me this is a bad result. The goal is only victory. We will try to push every day, but we know that when we take a risk we can have a crash or something like that. I think we will take the risk to win back time and to get back to first position.
CAR 302:  GINIEL DE VILLIERS – “There is still a long way to go..”
For sure, today we had a clean day with no problems. I think the guys at the back will come a little bit quicker because there's a lot of cleaning and the road is very slippery on the top. I think some guys at the back will be better, but I'm very happy with the day, we had absolutely no problems and I must thank the guys back in the bivouac doing all the hard work. We finally managed to get on top of the small issues we've been having and the car ran perfectly today. There's still a long way to go, you know. The first week has been really tough and I'm very happy that we made the rest day. For sure, it's not over by a long way. We really have to stay concentrated. There are some very long stages to come in Chile. The dunes by Copiapo are famous for their difficulty, so we'll really have to take a good rest and make sure we're ready for the second week.
CAR 301:  NASSER AL-ATTIYAH – “I'm quite happy with the performance”
We started the morning in 18th position. We were stuck behind a lot of cars and a lot of dust. We lost a lot of time, but then on the second section we didn't have any dust and we really pushed a lot. We finished second and I'm quite happy with the performance. From tomorrow we try to push because we are in a good position.
CAR 303: CARLOS SAINZ – “The rally is finished for us”
There was a lot of dust. On the previous one we were stuck in the dust for most of the stage. This one was a little bit better but it also took us some time to pass cars because there is no room. The rally is finished for us so we need to try and go for stage wins.
Belgian rider Eric Palante was found dead Fifty-year-old Eric Palante was taking part in his 11th Dakar and hoped to win the amateur trophy for motorbikes.
At 08:30 (Local Time) hours this morning, as the crew of the broom truck was plotting the position of bike rider 122 to pick him up, at kilometre 143 on the special of the 5th stage between Chilecito and San Miguel de Tucuman they found the body of the Belgian rider Eric Palante (entrant no. 122).

The circumstances of Eric’s death are the subject of an analysis by the Judge Dr. Massucco of Belen [Catamarca province].

No alert was received by the organizers, and Eric’s water had been replenished in the afternoon.

The rider’s family were told of the accident by the organization in the morning. Fifty-year-old Eric Palante was taking part in his 11th Dakar and hoped to win the amateur trophy for motorbikes. He knew the race very well, and over the years his enthusiastic but serious approach had made him one of the pillars of the event.

It is with great sadness that the organizers and the entire family of the Dakar offer their condolences to Eric’s family and friends.
Title: Re: DAKAR 2014
Post by: kimmer on January 14, 2014, 01:48:08 PM
Saturday 11th January
Rest day: Salta
Reaching the rest day represents a major intermediary goal on the Dakar. Some of the rally’s newcomers, who are conscious of how tough the challenge is, may even regard this as a tiny victory. So the drivers and teams will be welcomed with the honors of a halfway podium at the bivouac in Salta, where a first celebration has been organized for them. Thousands of spectators are expected to come and discover the Dakar Village, as they did in Tucuman last year, where they will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of the rally, take advantage of the great variety of entertainment and activities on offer and meet the race’s key figures. It will also allow the competitors to boost their motivation levels and recharge their batteries.

Dakar Rally 2014: Deaths Include Journalists, Biker, But No Trucks, Cars, Or Quads

Dakar Rally 2014 TV coverage is reporting the three deaths of people watching the famous race, including two journalists and one biker. Fortunately, no Dakar Rally trucks have been involved in any fatal accidents.

Raced in South America, Dakar Rally 2014 featured 431 vehicles crossing Argentina, Bolivia and Chile for the auto, motorbike, trucks, and quad events. The off-road routes they follow are often treacherous but the 14-day, 13 stage journey is open to both amateur and professional drivers. And, of course, the only real way to follow the racers over the countryside is by vehicles. To give you an idea how bad conditions can be, only about half of the participants were still in the running after the mandatory rest day.

During the first seven stages of Dakar Rally 2014, two members of a news team for Super Rally magazine died when the car they were driving fell into a ravine, dropping about 330 feet. Agustin Mina, 20, and Daniel Ambrosio, 51, who were both in the front seats, died instantly on impact. They are both said to have loved auto racing and they were photographers for the magazine. Martin Delgado, 31, and Rodrigo de Quesada, 36, survived the crash and were taken to a hospital. Officials are still investigating what happened to cause them to drive into the ravine.

But Belgian motorcyclist Eric Palante was an actual racer in Dakar Rally 2014 and this year was the 11th time he’d been in the race:

 “He knew the race very well, and over the years his enthusiastic but serious approach had made him one of the pillars of the event.”

The 50-year-old man was planning to celebrate his birthday on January 21. Friends say his goal was to win the Dakar Rally 2014 amateur trophy for motorbikes. The death is still being investigated.
Title: Re: DAKAR 2014
Post by: kimmer on January 14, 2014, 01:57:51 PM
12th January
Stage 7 - Cars-Trucks: Salta – Salta
•Liaison sections: 230 km
•Special stage: 533 km

•Liaison sections: 230 km
•Special stage: 525 km

The all-inclusive loop
This mega loop with a 500-km long special stage on the agenda will test the teams’ ability to adapt to changes of pace. After stony terrains at the beginning of the day, some top speeds will be recorded in the second part of the stage, and then the drivers’ road techniques will be tested, and all of this at an average altitude of almost 3,500m. To end this highly emotional day, they will have to cross a vast salt flat extending over twenty or so kilometres: a straight stretch which will make the competitors’ heads spin.

Sunday 12th January
Stage 7 - Motorcycles-Quads: Salta – Uyuni
•Liaison sections: 373 km
•Special stage: 409 km

Before the salt flat, the maze of tracks
The second marathon stage will begin for the riders of motorcycles and quad bikes, who will be savouring the first visit of the Dakar to Bolivia. When they enter the country the riders will experience a visual shock and will also be perturbed by the maze of tracks through which they will have to navigate. In these steep mountainous areas, the beauty of the setting and the variety of colours will not make the task ahead any easier. The few villages which will be idly crossed will, on the other hand, provide them with perfect waypoints. To reward their diligence, they will be able to head for the bivouac in Uyuni, set up on the edge of the salt flat… at an altitude of 3,600m!

Barreda and Sainz strike back but Coma and Roma stay in control.

Spain's Joan Barreda took his third victory in the 2014 edition, beating overall leader Marc Coma by 4′03″ at the end of a historic stage that took the Dakar to its 28th country. Instead of making a foray into Bolivia, the cars raced on a wide 500 km loop around Salta that was more suited to Carlos Sainz's buggy. "El Matador", not one to let such opportunities pass him by, took his 27th Dakar win ahead of Qatar's Nasser Al-Attiyah and Stéphane Peterhansel, who only managed to claw back 1′52″ from leader Nani Roma.

The seventh stage of the motorcycle/quad rally, raced at an average of over 3,700 masl, was shortened from 401 km to 104 km due to yesterday's rain in the Salta region. More than enough to push man and machine to the limit, but not enough to keep a lid on the rider standing second overall. Joan Barreda made good use of his fifth place in this morning's starting order to unleash a flurry of attacks and grab his third victory this year and the eighth one of his career, 4′03″ ahead of fellow countryman Marc Coma. The Catalan, third off the line this morning, drove within his limits throughout stage 7, holding onto Barreda's wheel once the latter had caught up with him and clinging on to limit the difference between himself and his main rival for the title. A carbon copy of the tactic used by defending champion Cyril Despres, who finished third in Uyuni, 5′35″ behind the stage winner.

Today's flop was Alain Duclos, who suffered the opener's cure and made a navigation mistake towards the beginning of the stage, costing him almost 20 minutes in Uyuni, the site of the historic bivouac of the second marathon stage of the 36th edition. As a result, the Sherco rider lost his third place in the provisional overall classification to Jordi Viladoms by just 32 seconds. Marc Coma's former lieutenant now sits in third place, but 38 minutes behind second-placed Joan Barreda, which is almost the same gap as between the Honda rider and leader Coma. The fight for the title during the second week is shaping up to be a duel in the desert.

The same can be said of the car category after Orlando Terranova was handed a 15-minute penalty for unsporting behaviour yesterday. Relegated to fourth behind Giniel de Villiers, the Argentinean may have lost the chance to fish in the troubled waters of the Roma-Peterhansel war. A war in which Carlos Sainz and Nasser Al-Attiyah could well be the kingmakers. And they showed why in stage 7. Carlos Sainz took advantage of the terrain suited to his buggy and of Giniel de Villiers' puncture to drive at the front of the race and pull out all the stops. The prize? A second stage win in 2014 and his 27th Dakar victory —helped in no small part by Nasser Al-Attiyah's little navigation mistake. In the end, El Matador was 4′24″ faster than the Qatari and 7′04″ quicker than Stéphane Peterhansel, who opened the race and had to slow down several times due to… llama herds encroaching on the course!   

As a result, "Monsieur Dakar" was only able to take back 1′52″ from leader Nani Roma. The Catalan, who still has a margin of over 30 minutes, has decided to drive within his limits during the second week and is now racing, in his own words, at 90%. Nevertheless, this was enough for him to post the fourth best time in stage 7, 8′56″ behind Carlos Sainz. Further behind, the South African's puncture did not stop Giniel de Villiers from gaining the upper hand in his fight with Orlando Terranova for third place, finishing eighth in today's stage, 16′25″ behind the winner but 1′25″ ahead of the Argentinean driver, who made a couple of navigation mistakes too. De Villiers now has 6′11″ on the local hero.

Stage 7 was a tough one for Robby Gordon.
Team SPEED will be testing various things over the final Stages trying to improve the HST Gordini as much as possible under race conditions.
Added: Yesterday at 4:23pm This page has been viewed: 366 times Salta, Argentina (January 12, 2014) – Following a much needed rest day for teams, Sunday's Stage 7 of the 35th Dakar Rally consisted of a mega loop with a 500-kilometer Special leading from Salta back to Salta. Drivers faced a course similar to what would be seen during a WRC race with stony terrain and multiple ultra-fast sections, an advantage that the 4WD race cars would have over the two-wheel-drive SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires HST Gordini.
As with much of the 2014 Rally, Stage 7 was a tough one for Robby Gordon and his SPEED Energy/Toyo Tires team. Gordon started the stage far down the list, making his objective to stayi out of trouble and bring the HST Gordini to the finish line in one piece. Beginning 23rd off the line the SPEED Energy team knew the tight and narrow WRC-type track would be a challenge to pass other competitors.

By kilometer 230 Gordon and navigator Kellon Walch had worked past 12 cars just 11 minutes and 10 seconds behind the leader. Unfortunately, as Gordon approached kilometer 281 things would suddenly go wrong for the American team as they came to a halt on the side of the racecourse with broken wheel studs. The HST Gordini would ultimately limp its way to the finish losing valuable time to the leaders. Gordon would eventually finish the stage 1 hour and 59 minutes behind stage winner Spaniard Carlos Sainz.

As the Rally comes down to the last six days, more and more competitors are dropping out. Gordon and Team SPEED look to make a jump in the overall standings every day hoping to reach the top 10. Tomorrow's Stage 8 will enter Chile for the first time with a 510-kilometer liaison leading into a 302-kilometer Special as the competitors cross the Andes Cordillera. Being that it is so far into the Rally, Team SPEED will be testing various things over the final Stages trying to improve the HST Gordini as much as possible under race conditions.

from : SPEED Energy Racing
In the quad category, stage 7 saw Ignacio Casale get back into business and take his third stage in the 2014 edition, 7′40″ ahead of Sebastian Husseini and 8′38″ ahead of Sergio Lafuente. Enough for the Chilean rider to seize the overall lead the day before the Dakar enters his country, 6′15″ ahead of Sergio Lafuente and 29′52″ ahead of Pole Rafał Sonik, who posted the fourth best time.

Finally, the second week began with defending champion Eduard Nikolaev bursting back onto the scene with his first Dakar stage win, 3'35" ahead of teammate Dmitri Sotnikov and 4'34" ahead of Gerard de Rooy. However, Iveco's Dutchman continues to have a solid grip on the general classification, where he leads Andrey Karginov by 37'50" and Nikolaev by 1 h 03'08".

CAR 300: STEPHANE PETERHANSEL – “We came across herds of llamas!”
A well-rounded special, with nice, fun stretches with a focus on technique and others which were all about raw speed. We spent most of the stage at the front, except for a short while when Nasser Al-Attiyah overtook us, but he made a small navigation mistake and we moved to the front again. Finding our way around wasn't overly difficult, but that didn't mean opening the course was easy, as we came across herds of llamas several times and had to brake hard and then drive carefully while they got out of the way. We scared them away for the other drivers and it cost us some time, because when you go down to 50 km/h, at this altitude it takes a while before you get back to 160!
CAR 303: CARLOS SAINZ – “Trying to win all the remaining stages”
The special was quite good for us, with a very fast course but a very technical sector as well. In all honesty, everything went smoothly, and from now on we'll be following this strategy: trying to to win all the remaining stages until Valparaíso.
CAR 301 : NASSER AL-ATTIYAHA – “ little mistake at a crossroads!”
We set a very high pace from the get-go. It was a very fast special and I quickly got in the wake of Stéphane Peterhansel, but I wasn't able to overtake him. I eventually found a gap, but I didn't manage to hold onto the lead for long, because a bit later I made a little mistake at a crossroads and took a wrong turn. I lost some time but, more importantly, "Peter" seized the chance to get back in front and from then on it was pointless to take risks to catch up with him. Anyway, it was a good day all in all.
CAR 304: NANI ROMA – “We'll go on the attack, but we won't risk everything”
Our day wasn't half bad despite a flat tyre and having to drive a few kilometres in the dust of Giniel de Villiers before we managed to overtake him. Anyway, I'm happy, there's one day less left and we're still in the lead. 30 minutes should be enough to take it easy if everything goes well, so we'll take the race day by day and go on the attack, but we won't risk everything. So far so good, I'm happy.