The 2014 Dakar Rally is over. And I’ll bet you that every competitor is extremely happy about that. The 2014 Dakar Rally had 13 stages over 14 days. Virtually all of these stages were very tough and once again the Dakar Rally has proven to be the toughest single motor sports event in the world. Each one of the finishers can rightfully call themselves a winner. A Dakar finisher’s medal would be a medal of honor.
In the Bike Class, Marc Coma on a KTM was the clear winner. His margin over the second place position was almost 2 hours! In addition to the winning margin, what surprised me was that his arch rival, Cyril Depres, finished 4th. Usually these two are only a very few minutes apart at the Dakar. Perhaps Depres’ switch to Yamaha had an effect on his performance. In any event, Coma should be congratulated as he had to sit out last year’s Dakar due to an injury, so it was a great comeback.
Marc Coma Won The Bike Class (Again)
The Bike Class seems like it is quite healthy as there are several manufacturer’s teams that are entered. The number of top riders seems to be increasing. I look forward to a more competitive bike class in 2015.
Following are the final top 10 results for the 2014 Dakar Rally bike class:
2014 Dakar Rally Bike Class Final Overall Standings
|7||BARREDA BORT (ESP)||HONDA||57:44:54||02:54:01||00:15:30|
One of the under reported stories of the 2014 Dakar Rally is the performance of Laia Sanz, who finished 16th Overall on her Honda. She had several top 10 finishes on the stages, so she is fast as well as tough. Having a woman finish this high at Dakar, especially on a bike, should be an inspiration to other female riders who perhaps thought that the Dakar was just too tough for them.
Laia Sanz Finished 16th On Her Honda
The end of the 2014 Dakar Rally in the car class was somewhat anticlimactic. After Stage 10 the Mini team issued team orders that the order should be maintained. As a fan of competitive events this was a disappointment. Nani Roma had been ahead of Stephane Peterhansel by almost 40 minutes. Over the Stages 8, 9, and 10 Peterhansel had continuously whittled Roma’s lead down to a mere 26 seconds! This was when the Mini team management stepped in and issued the “order should be maintained” instructions. At that time Mini had a podium full of cars and they did not want the top one or two potential Mini finishers take themselves off the podium by damaging the cars due to pushing too hard while competing with each other.
I saw an interview with Stephane Peterhansel who said that he was a professional driver who was working for Mini and therefore he accepted the team orders. As a result, in the end, Peterhansel finished second and Nani Roma won.
Nani Roma Wins Again – This Time In A Car
As can be seen from the list of the top 10 overall car finishers, the Mini team dominated. Al-Attiyah, who finished third, was an ah hoc member of the Mini team, as he had, in effect, rented the Mini. It would have been very interesting if Al-Attiyah had been in second place when the Mini team orders were issued. Al-Attiyah races for Al-Attiyah; not for Mini. Hopefully next year more manufacturers will enter substantial teams in the Dakar.
2014 Dakar Rally Car Class Final Overall Standings
|1||ROMA (ESP)PERIN (FRA)||MINI||50:44:58||–||–|
|2||PETERHANSEL (FRA)COTTRET (FRA)||MINI||50:50:36||00:05:38||–|
|3||AL-ATTIYAH (QAT)CRUZ (ESP)||MINI||51:41:50||00:56:52||01:00:00|
|4||DE VILLIERS (ZAF)VON ZITZEWITZ (DEU)||TOYOTA||52:04:05||01:19:07||–|
|5||TERRANOVA (ARG)FIUZA (PRT)||MINI||52:12:42||01:27:44||00:15:00|
|6||HOLOWCZYC (POL)ZHILTSOV (RUS)||MINI||54:40:40||03:55:42||–|
|7||DABROWSKI (POL)CZACHOR (POL)||TOYOTA||56:19:23||05:34:25||–|
|8||LAVIEILLE (FRA)GARCIN (FRA)||HAVAL||56:20:48||05:35:50||01:00:00|
|9||KACZMARSKI (POL)PALMEIRO (PRT)||MINI||57:43:10||06:58:12||01:00:00|
|10||VASILYEV (RUS)YEVTYEKHOV (UKR)||MINI||57:44:32||06:59:34||–|
From an American perspective, the 2014 Dakar Rally was not very successful. Robby Gordon was not particularly competitive on the stages on a regular basis and eventually DNF’d after Stage 11. The other US entry in the Car Class, B. J. Baldwin, DNF’d after Stage 9. This was Baldwin’s first Dakar and I hope that he comes back.
As a rally navigator, I am interested in the navigation required on the Dakar Rally. In the terrain for much of the Dakar there are few distinctive landmarks and even fewer roads. The image below shows a navigator’s station in a car at Dakar, as well as a look at a page from the Route Book.
Dakar Navigator’s Station
It appears to me that the page shown in the Route Book has no relationship to the images shown on the navigation equipment. The total distance shown in the Route Book is about 19 kilometers, while the navigation equipment shows a total distance of about 109 kilometers. The other thing noticeable in the Route Book is the long distance between instructions. It appears that the incremental distances are 5 to 9 kilometers! As a result, it is easy to see how a navigational mistake can add many minutes to a competitor’s time.
The piece of navigation equipment on the right side is operating as an odometer, showing both the total and incremental distances. However the right side of the screen seems to indicate that the unit can provide more information than just distances.
The piece of navigation equipment on the left seems to be a GPS unit that can provide direction to the next way point. But I really don’t understand exactly how that unit works, as it is not a piece of equipment that I am familiar with and I see no manufacturer’s name or model number in order to look up the unit’s capability. I would appreciate if anyone can provide me with information about the operation of this equipment.
Once again the Dakar Rally did not disappoint and I look forward to next year.