|Dakar Rally 2013: Peterhansel, De Villiers and Novitskiy winner in cars.|
Anyone taking a cursory look at the classification may think the 35th edition of the Dakar was a walk in the park for Stéphane Peterhansel, the unassailable overall leader from the 2nd stage and winner of an 11th Dakar counting all categories, a new record.
But his 5th win in a car, which he took with a 42:22 minutes margin over Giniel de Villiers and 1:28 hours over teammate Leonid Novitskiy, had more to do with the bad luck of his rivals than with the Mini's supremacy on the course.
Peterhansel won two stages, but he spent the first week fighting off the onslaughts of Nasser Al-Attiyah's buggy, and it was thanks to the Qatari's withdrawal in stage 9 that he was able to spend the second week managing his comfortable buffer over the South African, who'd made a costly navigational mistake in stage 3.
With a little push from the rule book, the two-wheel drive cars lit the fireworks in the 2013 Dakar and were rewarded with seven stage wins (three for Al-Attiyah, two for Robby Gordon and one each for Carlos Sainz and Guerlain Chicherit).
Even though four-wheel drive cars, including three Minis and the Chinese Great Wall of the ever-consistent Portuguese driver Carlos Sousa (6th), took the top six places, this is to a great extent thanks to the reliability issues experienced by the buggies, which were clearly faster on the course. The last time there were three buggies in the final Top 10 was in 2000.
Ronan Chabot's seventh place in Santiago is also the best overall performance by a two-wheel drive car since Robby Gordon finished third in 2009. Good enough for the Frenchman to defend his title in this category by 9'39? on teammate Guerlain Chicherit.
The best rookie was Russian Vladimir Vasilyev, who finished 16th overall with his G-Force prototype, 11 places higher than the Toyota Land Cruiser driven by Spaniard Xavier Foj, who won his 2nd straight title in the Production category by 13:09 mins on Frenchman Nicolas Gibon.
Finally, Dutchman Tim Coronel won the "solo" race again by finishing 55th overall, while Colombia's Martha Mariño was the only woman in the final classification, where she placed 86th.
2013/01/21 | 15:07 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/ASO