All four classes in The Dakar Rally 2014 are racing together once again, along the same route from Calama to Iquique. We’re now in the only country left to cover – Chile and its magnificent sand dunes. Bikes and quads set out first, making it hard for the larger vehicles to navigate the shifting terrain. With the Pacific Ocean ahead, it’s time to open up the throttle and drive it like you stole it right until the end.
#3 Marc Coma took his master-class is how to race the Dakar Rally to a new level in Las Dunas Del Iquique. By the end of the day, his lead was extended to just over fifty-five minutes! Chasing him was #1 Cyril Despres who managed to improve his overall rank up to eighth but his chances of repeating last year’s win is still far off. A look back at his record shows that Despres never won two Dakars in a row until 2013, so unfortunately history worked against him scoring a hat trick of championships. However, the chances of missing a podium aren’t so bad since there’s a heated fight in the top ten. The fight for the runner-up spots is super-hot! Among the wonderful performances we’ve seen in this year’s Dakar Rally, #50 Laia Sanz, a Spanish X-Games gold medallist for Enduro has been quietly building momentum throughout the race. In this stage, she had her best finish with 7th and reached her highest overall position of 16th. This is her fourth Dakar and her best finish was 39th. Laia Sanz is as tough as they come and it’s an absolute thrill to see her being competitive.
#92 Mike Johnson finished the stage 58th and climbed to 78th overall, his highest rank so far. Also reaching their highest position yet are #318 BJ Baldwin and Quinn Cody. They were the 19th to cross the finish line and now 36th on the general standings. Their compatriots, #305 Robby Gordon and Kellon Walch had a difficult day of racing due to mechanical problems on the dunes. They finished the stage 28th and continued to stay 27th overall. To keep up with their progress, like Kellon Walch Racing’s Facebook page and Ballistic BJ Baldwin’s Facebook page.
Four Minis were the first cars to reach Calama. #500 Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret led the brigade in an all-out attack on the dunes. Between Peterhansel’s superb driving and Cottret’s skilful navigation, the gap between them and the overall lead is now only 12:10. Needless to say but #304 Nani Roma and Michel Perin are in serious trouble. They finished third but need stay on the attack or that lead will be long gone. The second place was won by #301 Nasser Al-Attiyah and Lucas Cruz, tying #302 Giniel De Villiers and Dirk Von Zitzewitz for fourth overall place. #307 Orlando Terranova and Paulo Fiúza round out the top four and if they can just keep ahead of Al-Attiyah, then the Argentine driver might claim his first Dakar Rally podium – ever. He’s the only guy in the top five who hasn’t.
There’s some serious stuff going on in the Truck class. #501 Gérard De Rooy has had a stranglehold on the lead since stage 2. Now it looks like that lead is in danger thanks to the relentless efforts by the Kamaz Master Team. #506 Andrey Karginov won stage 9 and reduced De Rooy’s lead to a mere 14 minutes. His teammates #500 Eduard Nikolaev and #549 Dmitry Sotnikov are also keeping pressure on the Dutchman. Rather, they’re trying too because he’s a cool customer and won’t be goaded into doing something rash. There are still a few days left in the race, but rest assured we’ll be keeping a close eye on all their progress.
“We managed to finish and stay on the top, but Karginov was driving way too fast. He’s taking so many risks. I saw all the errors he made on the special. He missed the corners a lot of times so he’s pushing too hard. I drive may own race, same as always. They’re not going to push me or make me crazy.” – #501 Gérard De Rooy
On January 15, 2014 Stage 10 was completed with upheaval in the ranks. Look out for our recap, and you can also get live updates with The Dakar Rally official mobile apps and official social media channels: