Stage 2 of The Dakar Rally 2014 is in the books and was quite exciting. #18 Sam Sunderland, the young Brit we profiled in December 2013, won the Bike stage, a first for his career! Chile’s #5 Chaleco Lopez was second and #3 Joan Barreda Bort of Spain was third. In an interesting twist, the top three overall positions were the reverse of the stage results, with the Spaniard in first, followed by Lopez and Sunderland respectively. Reigning champion #1 Cyril Despres had a tough time on the Dunas El Nihuil and eventually finished the stage in 10th place and is currently 8th overall. Despite the problems he’s been having, it’s far too early to count him out yet.
Of the privateers we’ve been tracking, #92 Mike Johnson finished 87th today and holds 93rd overall. Some unfortunate news via Kevin Muggleton on Twitter is that #167 Peter Hardy was brought to the bivouac via helicopter because his bike caught fire. Hardy’s name doesn’t appear on the Withdrawals List at this time but we hope he’ll be able to continue.
Today’s competition in cars was fierce as #300 Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret duked it out with #303 Carlos Sainz and Timo Gottschalk to win the stage. #302 Giniel De Villiers and Dirk Von Zitzewiz, held on to the third spot, which must have been quite satisfying because they had major mechanical problems in Stage 1. In 2013, the South African driver and his Imperial Toyota HiLux finished second, thus preventing X-Raid from making a clean sweep of the top five positions. He’s currently sixth overall but that situation is likely to change as the race progresses. #318 BJ Baldwin and Quinn Cody did better on Stage 2, ending the day 82nd and has 81st place overall. #305 Robby Gordon and Kellon Walch showed great improvement today finishing 28th and hauling their score from 132nd to 57th. If they can keep this up, then stage 3 promises to see a charge towards the top ten in the division.
There were all kinds of upheaval with the trucks in Stage2 and we mean that literally. #503 Ayrat Mardeev is out of the race. There was a huge crash and the recap video hasn’t been released yet, but as far as we know nobody was seriously injured. It’s unfortunate after starting out with a win, but this has given #501 Gérard De Rooy an opportunity to not only take a stage win but the overall lead as well. The fastest truck on the special stage was Kamaz Master #545 driven by Anton Shibalov, while #500 Eduard Nikolaev finished 8th due to electrical problems. Last year, Nikolaev didn’t win any stages but still took the overall title. #508 Marcel Van Vliet stayed in contention with a third place stage finish and is behind De Rooy in the overall standings. Wouldn’t it be something if Veka Man Rally Team steps up this year?
Stage 3 San Rafael to San Juan is well underway. You can stay tuned here for our recap and also follow along with The Dakar Rally official mobile apps and their social media channels: