• 29ª Baja Portalegre 500


    22 a 24 de Outubro de 2015
  • Baja TT Idanha-a-Nova


    11 e 12 de Setembro de 2015
  • Baja TT Proença / Mação / Oleiros


    20 e 21 de Junho de 2015
  • Baja Cidade Europeia do Desporto


    30 e 21 de Maio de 2015
  • Rali TT Vinhos Carmim


    1 e 2 de Maio de 2015
  • Baja TT Rota do Douro


    27 e 28 de Março

sexta-feira, 20 de janeiro de 2017

Vasilyev wins 2017 Africa Eco Race with the MINI ALL4 Racing

· Twelve stages across Africa take the field to the finish in Dakar 
· Vasilyev wins the desert rally in superior style.

 X-raid congratulates Vladimir Vasilyev and Konstantin Zhiltsov on their win in the ninth Africa Eco Race from Monaco to Dakar. With their MINI ALL4 Racing, the two Russians won the rally with a lead of more than two hours over Miroslav Zapletal in second position. In his debut appearance in the Africa Eco Race, Vasilyev won a total of four of the 12 stages.

 Particularly in the first week, Vasilyev and Zhiltsov opened a huge gap on their competitors by dominating and winning the first three special stages. Later, they succeeded in adding another stage win in Mauritania to their tally. Also helpful: the Russian pairing and their MINI ALL4 Racing contested the rally without encountering any technical problems.

 The Africa Eco Race started on the 31st December in Monaco. New Year’s Day was used for ferrying the field to Morocco. From Nador, the event took the field across Morocco and Mauritania to Senegal and its capital Dakar. There, the participants contested the final stage on 14th January at the well-known Lac Rose.

  “We are really happy about the fact that a MINI ALL4 Racing built by us succeeded in winning the Africa Eco Race that is following the original tracks of the Dakar Rally,” said Sven Quandt, team manager and founder of the X-raid team. “We congratulate Vladimir and Konstantin on their great performance. They drove a clever rally what allowed them to obtain such a big lead over the rest of the field.”

 Overall ranking with all the 12 stages contested:

1st V. Vasilyev (RUS) / K. Zhiltsov (RUS) MINI ALL4 Racing – 36h 33m 40s
2nd M. Zapletal (CSZ) / M. Sykora (CSZ) Hummer – 38h 44m 10s
3rd D. Housieaux (FRA) / C. Crespo (FRA) Optimus – 38h 52m 37s

CRN Competition cumpre objetivo e leva pilotos até Buenos Aires

Pilotos tiveram um desempenho notável e repetiram feito de 2011 

Os dois pilotos portugueses inscritos pela CRN Competition no Dakar 2017 onde competiram aos comandos de motos Yamaha WR450F na Classe Super Prodution, conseguiram terminar aquela que é a mais exigente maratona de todo-o-terreno do Mundo. Fausto Mota e Rui Oliveira, que já tinham competido e sido bem-sucedidos em 2011, chegaram a Buenos Aires, na Argentina, depois de ultrapassadas inúmeras dificuldades encontradas nesta edição de 2017, com particular destaque para um problema de saúde que quase ia impedindo Rui Oliveira de chegar ao fim. Para trás ficou o colega e companheiro de equipa, o espanhol Oscar Romero, que foi forçado a desistir devido a problemas mecânicos registados na 8ª etapa deste rali, quando ocupava uma excelente 38º posição.

  O início da mítica maratona 

A chegada a Assunção marcou o início daquela que é uma das mais míticas maratonas internacionais de todo-o-terreno. Rui Oliveira revela que foram “muito bem recebidos” e Fausto Mota acrescenta que “aproveitaram para fazer os últimos preparativos na mota e para ter um primeiro contacto com o Paraguai”. Os pilotos CRN Competition optaram por um início de prova tranquilo para “não comprometer os resultados de uma competição que se afigurava longa e este ano, especialmente dura”. Qualquer erro poderia comprometer a sua prestação.

  Altitude não condicionou equipa 

A passagem para a Bolívia, na 4ª etapa, que marcou o início da competição em altitude, correu de feição à equipa que sentiu somente algumas diferenças no desempenho da mota. “A verdade é que a altitude não nos afetou em demasia. Temos que agradecer os conselhos de alguns amigos com experiência em altitude”, refere Fausto Mota.

  Etapas anuladas obrigaram a esforço extra 

E se as etapas em altitude não foram um problema para a equipa o mesmo não se pode dizer das etapas anuladas que obrigaram a fazer ligações de noite, com muito pó, juntamente com os camiões de apoio, o que se tornou muito perigoso. Para Rui Oliveira e Fausto Mota a anulação da sexta e nona etapas “obrigou a um esforço extra e revelaram-se muito duras, para nós que tínhamos apostado na regularidade” Muitos quilómetros, em ligações feitas de noite, juntamente com os camiões de apoio e com muito pó, revelaram-se perigosos e prejudicaram o nosso desempenho desportivo, já que assumíamos a aposta na regularidade como um dos principais objetivos”. Ainda na Bolívia, em La Paz, a equipa gozou o dia de descanso no qual “aproveitámos para fazer uma revisão às motas”, como refere Rui Oliveira, que implicou “verificar a qualidade do motor das motas, se seria ou não necessário trocar os mesmos, mas chegámos à conclusão que estavam em perfeitas condições”, acrescenta Fausto Mota.

  A garra e a determinação que se lhes reconhece 

A saúde atraiçoou Rui Oliveira que cumpriu as últimas etapas já demonstrando sinais evidentes de doença. Indisposto e sem forças o piloto cumpriu os últimos quilómetros desta dura competição. “Foi muito difícil, sofri bastante, perdi as forças e tinha vómitos. Foram dias muito complicados mas nunca perdi a garra e força de vontade de terminar a competição. Agradeço à médica da X-Raid que me ajudou a recuperar”. A esta equipa que apostou na regularidade valeu-lhe a excelente estrutura e o trabalho para um objetivo comum. “Além disso somos amigos e estávamos focados na mesma missão, o que ajudou bastante”, tal como refere Rui Oliveira.

  Um sonho realizado 

A CRN Competition conseguiu terminar o Dakar, num ano especialmente duro e marcado por muitas desistências. São muitos a quem devo agradecer, refere Rui Oliveira, “em especial à minha família que teve de suportar um ano de ausência, o que nem sempre foi fácil. Agradeço também aos meus patrocinadores, ao meu treinador e ao Pedro (Bravuras), meu companheiro de todas as viagens e de muitos e longos treinos realizados ao longo do ano”. Fausto Mota, reforça os agradecimentos à família e patrocinadores, bem como “a todos os amigos que me apoiaram e ao Pedro Oliveira pela dedicação ao projeto”.

E o futuro.... 

Ambos referem que agora se vão dedicar à vida profissional e deixar o tempo decidir, mas deixam a promessa para que contemos “com algo desafiador”.

domingo, 15 de janeiro de 2017

Dakar 2017: IVECO de novo no pódio do rali mais duro do mundo

O Rali Dakar chegou ontem ao fim, com a realização da 12ª Etapa. Cumprindo uma curtíssima Especial de 64 km à volta de Río Cuarto, os participantes conduziram os seus veículos até à linha de chegada para concluir o rally-raid mais difícil do mundo.

 Líder do Team PETRONAS De Rooy IVECO e vencedor das edições de 2012 e 2016 do Dakar com a IVECO, Gerard de Rooy colocou o seu Powerstar no 3º lugar do pódio, depois de uma semana cheia de adversidades e em constante luta com os seus mais directos adversários.

 Apesar de ter estado no comando da prova, o holandês debateu-se com diversos furos no decorrer das etapas, fruto dos quais o veterano piloto cairia diversos lugares na classificação, ficando atrás de diversos outros veículos, o que lhe dificultou bastante a condução. Com muita poeira na sua frente e muito poucas oportunidades para ultrapassar, De Rooy viu as suas hipóteses de recuperar a liderança cada vez mais limitadas. Aproveitando a potência e eficácia do seu Powerstar, fundamentais na sua tentativa, o piloto holandês conseguiu rubricar mais um lugar no pódio, terminando no 3º posto, a 41m19s do vencedor do Dakar deste ano, Eduard Nikolaev.

 Nas últimas etapas, os IVECO Trakker de Ton van Genugten e Wuf van Ginkel andaram sempre juntos e conseguiram subir alguns lugares na classificação, mesmo depois de terem perdido mais de seis horas com os seus camiões atolados na lama. Ao volante do camião #507, Ton van Genugten concluiu a prova na 16ª posição, com quase mais seis horas de diferença para o líder, ficando Van Ginkel logo atrás do seu colega de equipa, a mais de oito horas.

 Aos comandos de outro IVECO Powerstar, Federico Villagra terminou o Rali Dakar de 2017 logo atrás de De Rooy, ou seja, no 4º posto. O argentino não conseguiu repetir o 3º lugar alcançado no ano passado e ficou também por realizar o seu objectivo de vencer uma Etapa. No entanto, nesta que foi a sua segunda participação com a IVECO, Villagra mostrou bem todo o seu potencial.

 Classificação Geral – Dakar 2017

 1. Eduard Nikolaev (Kamaz) 27h58m24s
2. Dmitry Sotnikov (Kamaz) +18m58s
3. Gerard de Rooy (IVECO) +41m19s
4. Federico Villagra (IVECO) +1h00m04s
 5. Airat Mardeev (Kamaz) +2h26m50s
-----------
 15. Ton van Genugten (IVECO) +6h58m03s 16. Wuf van Ginkel (IVECO) +8h19m48s

Pedro Bianchi Prata festeja nono Dakar terminado

Piloto português cumpriu com êxito a sua missão na equipa Honda 

Pedro Bianchi Prata já o demonstrou por inúmeras vezes ao longo da sua longa e produtiva carreira desportiva que não é piloto nem pessoa de baixar os braços. A poucos dias do Dakar 2017 arrancar tinha praticamente esgotado todos os esforços para mais uma participação na grande maratona sul-americana, quando lhe surgiu um convite irrecusável. Um convite e um desafio fantástico que permitiu ao atual campeão da europa de bajas cumprir com êxito a sua nona presença na prova em outras tantas participações.

 Claro que aos comandos de uma Honda CRF 450 Rally, uma moto fantástica que Pedro Bianchi Prata estreou praticamente no inicio do rali, se poderia desejar que o Pedro lutasse por um bom resultado, mas não era essa a sua missão. Teve oportunidade de andar bem, mas também teve de o fazer de uma forma extremamente cuidadosa quando era sua missão entregar os seus pneus no melhor estado possível a Joan Barreda no final da primeira metade da etapa maratona. Também teve de se “aguentar” com os pneus completamente desgastados que lhe foram entregues pelo piloto espanhol para a jornada do dia seguinte quando as pistas ficaram extremamente escorregadias das chuvas intensas que caíram.

 Parou para rebocar o americano Ricky Brabec e transportou 30 quilos de material para serem utilizados na etapa maratona, quando lhe coube ainda dar assistência a todas as motos da Honda HRC. Muitas histórias irá por certo trazer para Portugal, mas seguramente o que ficará no currículo é que participou com sucesso no Dakar 2017, pela nona vez.

  “Chegámos a Buenos Aires depois de uma ligação dura de 700 quilómetros. Muita gente à espera da caravana do Dakar mesmo que a competição já tenha terminado. É isto o Dakar. Na especial que se realizou no inicio da etapa tive de esperar quase uma hora pelos pilotos da equipa (a partida foi dada pela ordem inversa) mas esse é o meu trabalho. Cumpri a minha função e está feito mais um Dakar. Nove Dakar começados, nove Dakar acabados. Muito obrigado a todos os que me apoiaram”.

TOYOTA’S ROMA, DE VILLIERS AND RAUTENBACH CONFIRM FOURTH, FIFTH AND NINTH IN DAKAR RALLY

Overdrive Racing and Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa reached the ceremonial finish of the 2017 Dakar Rally with six of their original eight Toyota Hiluxes well positioned in the overall classification.

 After one of the most dramatic Dakar rallies in history, thanks to inclement weather conditions, vastly differing temperatures, high altitude and daunting navigation, the Spanish crew of Joan Roma and navigator Alex Haro headed the team home in an Overdrive Racing car running with support from Monster Energy, Power Electronics and Air Europa.

 The duo were careful through the final stage to confirm a comfortable fourth overall behind the record-breaking 13-time winner Stéphane Peterhansel, nine-time WRC champion Sébastien Loeb and five-time winner Cyril Despres.

 Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz heading into the final day under a little pressure from Argentina’s Orlando Terranova. But De Villiers retained his composure to beat the Mendoza driver by 40 seconds and secure fifth place by the slender margin, in Dakar terms, of 2min 43sec.

 Zimbabwean Conrad Rautenbach and his South African co-driver Robert Howie ended their first Dakar Rally together in style with the fifth quickest time on the last special and that just emphasised the progress the former WRC driver has made in such a short time. It enabled the crew to bring the second of the Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa Hiluxes to the finish in ninth place and gave Conrad the ‘Performance of the Day’ by rally officials.

  Van Loon sixth fastest on final Dakar stage

 The Dutch crew of Erik van Loon and Wouter Rosegaar set some impressive stage times over the last few days of the Dakar in their Overdrive Racing Toyota Hilux and SS12 was no exception, with Van Loon carding the sixth fastest stage of 29min 57sec to secure 14th overall.

 Alejandro Yacopini and Daniel Merlo began the last stage in their native Argentina from 19th overall. There were no major dramas to follow and Yacopini reached Buenos Aires inside the top 20. 

The Chinese crew of He Zhitao and Kai Zhao began the final special stage in 34th in the general classification after running behind their team-mates for long periods during the second week. They fulfilled the objective of finishing the event in the Boundless Yong Rally Team car run by Overdrive Racing in 34th overall.

 Additional support for Overdrive Racing came from Power Electronics and Kappa clothing.

  TODAY Drivers have hit problems on final Dakar stages before, but the special stage was only 64km in length and took place close to Río Cuarte. That left a monster of a road liaison to cope with of 786km from the stage finish to Buenos Aires via the town of Villa Maria and the city of Rosario. The ceremonial finish then took place outside the Argentina Automobile Club (ACA) in the Argentine capital.

  WHAT THEY SAID:

 JEAN-MARC FORTIN, CEO of Overdrive Racing “It was a very difficult Dakar and one that we will all remember for a long time. I would like to say thanks to everyone in our team for their hard work in the face of very difficult weather conditions and long days and nights in extreme conditions. We showed that the Toyota Hilux was competitive from the start of the Dakar and it was a huge disappointment for the whole team that we lost Nasser (Al-Attiyah) so early after he had taken the lead. Our other drivers did a superb job and Nani and Giniel reached the finish in fourth and fifth places. Conrad showed considerable potential with his stage performances over the last few days and we are delighted to see Erik Van Loon, Alejandro Yacopini and He Zhitao at the finish in Buenos Aires.” 

GINIEL DE VILLIERS – Car 302 “Obviously we’re a little bit disappointed, but you have to give big congratulations to our rivals because they deserve their success. All in all it was a very tough Dakar with plenty of navigation, which is good. It was a pity that two stages were cancelled.” 

JOAN ROMA – Car 305 “Well, the contest is over. It seems like yesterday that we were in Asuncion before starting the adventure. I guess we have had good adventures and misadventures. I am happy, although I suppose you are never happy if you don’t win. We started every stage trying to do our best. This race is never over until the last kilometre. We knew that fighting the Peugeots was a difficult task, but that was the fun part. If Toyota continues like this and we work a little more, we can win this race. Fourth is the first place that is not on the podium. But after some of the issues we had, this is a good result.” 

2017 Dakar Rally – SS12 result (top 8 only):

1. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (MCO) Peugeot 3008 DKR 28min 55sec
2. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA) Peugeot 3008 DKR 29min 14sec
3. Giniel de Villiers (ZAF)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota Gazoo Hilux 29min 25sec
4. Cyril Despres (FRA)/David Castera (FRA) Peugeot 3008 DKR 29min 48sec
5. Conrad Rautenbach (ZWE)/Robert Howie (ZAF) Toyota Gazoo Hilux 29min 55sec
6. Erik van Loon (NLD)/Wouter Rosegaar (NLD) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 29min 57sec
7. Orlando Terranova (ARG)/Andreas Schulz (DEU) John Cooper Works Rally Mini 30min 05sec
8. Joan Roma (ESP)/Alex Haro (ESP) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 30min 16sec

 2017 Dakar Rally – final standings after SS12:

1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA)/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA) Peugeot 3008 DKR 28hr 49min 30sec
2. Sébastien Loeb (FRA)/Daniel Elena (MCO) Peugeot 3008 DKR 28hr 54min 43sec
3. Cyril Despres (FRA)/David Castera (FRA) Peugeot 3008 DKR 29hr 22min 58sec
4. Joan Roma (ESP)/Alex Haro (ESP) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 30hr 06min 13sec
5. Giniel de Villiers (ZAF)/Dirk von Zitzewitz (DEU) Toyota Gazoo Hilux 30hr 39min 18sec
6. Orlando Terranova (ARG)/Andreas Schulz (DEU) John Cooper Works Rally Mini 30hr 42min 01sec
7. Jakub Przygonski (POL)/Tom Colsoul (BEL) John Cooper Works Rally Mini 33hr 04min 17sec
8. Romain Dumas (FRA)/Alain Guehennec (FRA) Peugeot 3008 DKR 33hr 13min 31sec
9. Conrad Rautenbach (ZWE)/Robert Howie (ZAF) Toyota Gazoo Hilux 33hr 29min 43sec
10. Mohammed Abu Issa (QAT)/Xavier Panseri (FRA) John Cooper Works Rally Mini 33hr 43min 00sec
14. Erik van Loon (NLD)/Wouter Rosegaar (NLD) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 34hr 54min 56sec
19. Alejandro Yacopini (ARG)/Daniel Merlo (ARG) Toyota Hliux Overdrive 37hr 17min 21sec
34. He Zhitao (CHN)/Kai Zhao (CHN) Toyota Hilux Overdrive 54hr 03min 55sec

MARCO BULACIA GUIDES HIS SOUTH RACING FORD RANGER TO A TOP 20 FINISH IN GRUELLING DAKAR RALLY

Marco Bulacia and Claudio Bustos cruised through the short final special stage of the 2017 Dakar Rally to ensure that they steered their South Racing Ford Ranger safely to the finish podium in Buenos Aires in 20th overall.

 The Bolivian and his Argentinean navigator had overcome minor issues during the course of 12 punishing days, where Mother Nature forced the cancellation of two special stages and temperatures fluctuated wildly from the mid-forties Centigrade to sub-zero at altitude.

 The Ford Ranger was reliable and competitive from the start and it was fitting that Bulacia should complete the event in the top 20, having finished 21st with South Racing in 2016. He completed the final special in 16th position to secure the top 20 finish.

 The only setback for the team was the loss of the DMAS South Racing Ford Ranger of Spaniard Xavier Pons and his Argentinean navigator Ruben Garcia on the second special stage in Argentina. Pons had been second fastest on the opening special in Paraguay before crashing heavily on the run across the Grand Chaco the following day.

  “The rally started superbly for us with Xevi (Pons) taking second position on the Prologue and, up until his accident on day two, he was running in the top three on the Dakar and in the split times,” said Scott Abraham, managing director of South Racing. “This showed the true potential of the Ford Ranger. Marco ran a very conservative and solid rally to 20th overall. 

“The weather played a key role. We lost some of the bigger stages that could have affected some of the overall positions. The navigation was also tough. Marco lost a waypoint as well and that would have put him higher in the overall classification. Saying that, I think they did a great job to get into the top 20. The mechanics worked in some of the hardest conditions we have seen on the Dakar or in any race around the world. A big thanks to them and to all our partners, who have supported us on the Dakar and throughout the year.”

 Bulacia’s latest generation South Racing Ford Ranger was prepared by Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) with collaboration from South Racing. Bulacia had additional backing from YPFB, Vialco, Hard Rock Santa Cruz, BOA and Ende for his second Dakar with South Racing.

Dakar Rally: Monster Energy Honda Team vow to fight on

After a fortnight competing in the world’s toughest race, Monster Energy Honda Team’s campaign ends with a positive scorecard. Throughout the ten disputed stages, the team have clearly shown all the necessary requisites to triumph in the Dakar. The battle goes on.

 Joan Barreda, the Monster Energy Honda Team ace, comes away from the Dakar having clinched four stages. Not only has he proven to be the fastest and most complete all-round rider of the 144 bike category participants who set off from Paraguay, but he also displayed superior navigation skills and made fewer mistakes. Once again Barreda scooped more stage wins than anyone, taking the tally to eighteen and overtaking the previous record-holder Italian Edi Orioli, who won with Honda in 1988. A harsh one-hour penalty for different interpretations of the refuelling guidelines effectively stole the bronze Tuareg from the Spaniard’s hands. Rally’s most promising rider had to accept fifth when the curtain came down on the event in Buenos Aires.

 It was no mean feat for the squad to keep a cool, clear head after the hammer-blow in just the fourth stage. Nevertheless, the four Monster Energy Honda Team showed much resolve and were immediately back in the fray as the great challenge moved onto Bolivian soil. Besides Barreda, Paulo Gonçalves displayed great consistency over the course of the competition. The Portuguese rider on the Honda CRF450 RALLY came sixth overall, who like his team-mate, would have finished in second place without the sanction.

 Michael Metge revelled in his supporting role and constantly shadowed the team’s two main riders Joan Barreda and Paulo Gonçalves. The Frenchman offered his team-mates a sense of security which allowed them to give the maximum on the track. American Ricky Brabec will forever remember the Dakar 2017 after snatching his first Dakar stage win. Ricky was unable to finish after a crash damaged the bike. Ricky, however, has shown excellent progress and maturity as a rider of cross-country rallies.

 The Honda CRF450 RALLY gave a noteworthy display of reliability, finishing the Dakar without the slightest mechanical hitch. The machine displayed great handling, resistance, power and has proved itself to be the bike of the Dakar.

 As the HRC Chairman Yoshishige Nomura put it yesterday from the podium in Buenos Aires: the team fought to the last to try and win the rally and will continue to battle hard to raise the trophy as the Rally Dakar winner.

sábado, 14 de janeiro de 2017

2017 Dakar: Good debut for the MINI John Cooper Works Rally

· Orlando Terranova finishes sixth 

· Seven MINI make it to the finish line and six in the top 20

 It’s done – two weeks Rally Dakar across Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina, in torrential rain, mud, heat and in enormous altitude! All the three MINI John Cooper Works Rally vehicles survived their debut appearance and made it to the finish line – just as four of the five MINI All 4 Racing pairings that contested the event. And in this gruelling rally, taking both man and material to their very limits, six of the seven MINI racers that finished the event made it to the top 20. The past two weeks were extremely eventful and in the end, Orlando Terranova (ARG) and Andreas Schulz (GER) with their MINI John Cooper Works Rally coped best with the continuous ups and downs to finish sixth in the overall ranking. Right behind them, Kuba Przygonski (POL) and Tom Colsoul (BEL) came seventh. While Qatar’s Mohamed Abu Issa, supported by his French navigator Xavier Panseri, secured the really fine 10th place, in his first Dakar.

 The debut appearance of the new MINI John Cooper Works Rally was a positive one. The three rally vehicles covered the covered the gruelling route from Paraguay via Bolivia to Argentina without encountering any major technical problems. Meanwhile, the conditions and circumstances made a major impact on the result. Among these circumstances definitely was the enormous altitude in Bolivia that got – in stage four – particularly to Yazeed Al-Rajhi (KSA). Due to massive headache he had to retire from the stage.

 Furthermore, the weather prevented the pairings from making up for the lost ground. Several times, special stages had to be shortened or even cancelled. 1400 of the scheduled 4093 special-stage kilometres weren’t contested – that’s more than a third! The ninth stage in particular would have offered the MINI John Cooper Works Rally pairings the chance of pushing. At the end of the day, this Dakar Rally once again demonstrated that the advantage the buggies enjoy over the all-wheel driven cars due to the technical regulations is massive.

 For Terranova, the start into the event was particularly difficult. For him, too, the fourth stage proved to be crucial for the rest of the Dakar. Navigation problems and difficulties with the enormous altitude cost him a lot of time – but on the following days he worked his way back up step by step and made it to the top six, in the end. “It was a difficult first week,” he admitted. “We made too many mistakes, thus losing a lot of time. The second week, however, went clearly better and now I’m happy to have made it to the finish, with the car still running flawlessly. The new MINI was just great, the navigation was extremely difficult and the special stages were longer and more technical – it was a far better rally than last year’s Dakar.”

 Witnessing Przygonski finishing seventh represents a – minor – surprise. The young Pole who has been racing on motorbikes for a long time contested his only second Dakar at the wheel of a car, this year. He was among the fastest right away and early demonstrated that he was determined to secure a top-10 result. “This was a truly difficult Dakar with several tough moments and difficult navigation,” he said. “Cooperating with Tom was big fun. I am delighted with having finished seventh and I also am happy about getting faster and faster as well as better and better. The difference between last year’s Dakar and this one was huge and I just have to change several things to be able to drive even faster.” 

Meanwhile, the 10th place secured by Abu Issa was a big surprise. After all, it was – after several years on a quad – his first Dakar with a car. “This was my fourth Dakar but it differed a lot form the other three. I think that I opted for the best team. They taught me a lot and that’s what I currently am focusing on: learning. While I was the one who taught others when I was racing on the quad. For instance my mechanics regarding the setup I wanted. At X-raid, however, I am the one to learn and this is very important for me as I still am very young. I want to win the Dakar some day and that’s the way you prepare for doing so.”

 Hirvonen held a top-five position nearly throughout the rally but he and his co-driver Michel Périn struggled with the extremely demanding navigation – and stage 10 destroyed their hopes for making it to the podium. Problems with the navigation and a collision with a truck cost the Finn more than three hours. “My second Dakar definitely was more challenging and difficult than my first. And although we didn’t achieve what we ha hoped for, in the end, our pace was really good nearly throughout the event,” said the Finn who finished 13th. But then, there was this day with all these problems – but that also is a part of the game. And it may sound crazy but even this stage had its positive factors, for me. There are so many stories I can tell now. And when an event is over, you even can enjoy looking back at such moments. Altogether, I had fun and the Dakar proved to be the adventure I had hoped for. The new MINI delivered in great style and I think we would have made it to the podium.”

 Meanwhile, Stephan Schott got out of his MINI ALL4 Racing with a big smile on his face. Together with his Portuguese co-driver Paulo Fiúza he finished 15th, thus securing his best Dakar result ever. “I feel fantastic,” beamed Schott. “It was a nice Dakar although some of the tracks in Bolivia weren’t nice to drive on. A big thank you to my navigator who did a great job.”

The Brazilian pairing Sylvio de Barros and Rafael Capoani, who had been signed at short notice as replacement for Bryce Menzies who couldn’t contest the Dakar due to health problems, also were happy with their achievements. “It was a great experience. And although we once lost our way massively, I hadn’t believed that this could happen to us. The MINI is bullet proof – we hit trees and rocks and rolled – and the car survived it all and here we are, having finished the rally.”

Al-Rajhi and his German navigator Timo Gottschalk made a good start into the Dakar but the enormous altitude in stage four made and end to their dreams about a podium. “This year’s Dakar was fun but I’m no friend of racing in high altitudes,” the driver from Saudi-Arabia revealed. “We race at a competitive speed but I felt really bad in the heights and even more so as I had had a cold on the previous days. It’s a real pity as I would have loved to secure a better result. I hope that we – if at all – don’t get to such high altitudes right away but step by step. The MINI is an extremely rugged car. Many other teams encountered technical problems but we didn’t. In our team, the mistakes mainly were made by the drivers.” 

The extreme weather made navigating even more difficult. Enormous heat in Paraguay and Argentina as well as torrential rain, mud and coldness in Bolivia took the team to its very limits. But the mechanics succeeded in keeping the concentration level high and did a perfect job when it came to preparing the eight MINI vehicles for the next day evening by evening.

  “It was a gruelling Dakar – and this does not only apply to the sport,” said Team Manager Sven Quandt. “This year, the conditions were extremely difficult for everybody. The heat in the early stages with temperatures of more than 40° C, then the Bolivian heights with an altitude of up to 4000 metres above sea level – and in addition, all the rain and the cold. This was physically and mentally extremly demanding. Nonetheless, our mechanics did a fantastic job and displayed a lot of staying power. If you are lying below a car in the rain, with mud everywhere and the water running down your collar… that’s anything but funny. Our MINI racers once again demonstrated their reliability, this year. But unfortunately, the regulation factors with their impact we can’t change prevented us from securing better results. For instance, the diesel powered all-wheel driven cars are clearly penalised by the regulations. All the fast, bumpy sections we had to contest this year were extremely demanding for our MINI and we had no chance against the buggies. Therefore, we will focus even more on the two-wheel drive, in the future.”

 Dakar 2017 Result SS12:

1. S. Loeb (FRA) / D. Elena (MNC) Peugeot – 28m 55s
2. S. Peterhansel (FRA) / J.-P. Cottret Peugeot – 29m 14s
3. De Villiers (RSA) / D. Von Zitzewitz (GER) Toyota - 29m 25s
4. C. Despres (FRA) / D. Castera (FRA) Peugeot – 29m 48s
5. C. Rautenbach (ZWE) / Howie Robert (RSA) Toyota – 29m 55s
... 7. O. Terranova (ARG) / A. Schulz (GER) MINI John Cooper Works Rally – 30m 05s
... 9. M. Hirvonen (FIN) / M. Périn (FRA) MINI John Cooper Works Rally – 20m 28s
... 12. J. Przygonski (POL) / T. Colsoul (BEL) MINI ALL4 Racing – 31m 03s
... 14. M. Abu Issa (QAT) / X. Panseri (FRA) MINI ALL4 Racing – 31m 54s
... 17. Y. Al-Rajhi (KSA) / T. Gottschalk (GER) MINI John Cooper Works Rally – 33m 32s
... 19. S. Barros (BRA) / R. Capoani (BRA) MINI ALL4 Racing – 33m 54s
... 23. S. Schott (GER) / P. Fiúza (POR) MINI ALL4 Racing – 35m 18s

 Dakar 2017 Overall standing after SS12:

1. S. Peterhansel (FRA) / J.-P. Cottret Peugeot – 28h 49m 30s
2. S. Loeb (FRA) / D. Elena (MNC) Peugeot – 28h 54m 43s
3. C. Despres (FRA) / D. Castera (FRA) Peugeot – 29h 22m 58s
4. N. Roma (ESP) / A. Haro (ESP) Toyota – 30h 06m 13s
5. De Villiers (RSA) / D. Von Zitzewitz (GER) Toyota - 30h 39m 18s
6. O. Terranova (ARG) / A. Schulz (GER) MINI John Cooper Works Rally – 30h 42m 01s
7. J. Przygonski (POL) / T. Colsoul (BEL) MINI ALL4 Racing – 33h 04m 17s
... 10. M. Abu Issa (QAT) / X. Panseri (FRA) MINI ALL4 Racing – 33h 43m 00s
... 13. M. Hirvonen (FIN) / M. Périn (FRA) MINI John Cooper Works Rally – 34h 45m 30s
... 15. S. Schott (GER) / P. Fiúza (POR) MINI ALL4 Racing – 36h 14m 02s
... 18. S. Barros (BRA) / R. Capoani (BRA) MINI ALL4 Racing – 37h 03m 17s
... 27. Y. Al-Rajhi (KSA) / T. Gottschalk (GER) MINI John Cooper Works Rally – 43h 54m 04s