|Dakar Rally 2014: Facts, countries, brands and funny stuff in the CARS.|
Same procedure as last year? No, same procedure as every year! It´s a tradition that in every year in November rallyraid-fans are waiting for "the" Dakar press conference - and journalist sharpen their pencils - because after the press conference the Dakar-organizer ASO is introducing details about the route and publishing the list of competitors. No secrets anymore, no rumors about "who is going with which team" etc...
So, especially for you, the journalists of marathonrally.com sharpened their pencils and cleaned their glasses to study the entries - it´s always interesting so see some names, think about "what´s new" or "what has changed" - or simply add some facts. And here we go - we start with THE CARS. Ok, some details are unclear because the entries list is not 100 % perfect...so please excuse if some points are not 100 % clear...
We will start with the Nations. The Dakar rally always is known for participants from smaller countries, so in this year. The UN is actually counting 194 certified countries and 12 un-certified countries in the world. In the cars, the Dakar has collected 33 nations.
The USA, Russia and China are dominating the world - but also the Dakar? No. We have 4 crews from the USA, 8 from Russia and only 1 (!) Chinese driver. Yong Zhou is a Dakar-expert and - also a surprise: Not driving for a Chinese team, but for X-raid in a Mini All4 Racing.
Wait, what about the Chinese Great Wall Haval Team? It looks like, the Chinese don´t trust in Chinese drivers. The factory team is coming with two cars and two European drivers, Carlos Sousa from Portugal and (surprise again), the French Christian Lavieille, up to now "married" with the French Dessoude Team. "But there is a third Great Wall?" you would remark? Yes. But this car, driven by Milciades Fretes from Paraguay, is a private prototype, operated by the Spanish 4WD Jaton Racing team. Bytheway, also Japan has only one car with the T2-hero Jun Mitsuhashi (Toyota).
Even if there are only four starters from the US, we think or better promise: Two of them will be a garant for the best show. Why? Because we are talking about Robby Gordon (Hummer Proto) and BJ "Balistic" Baldwin (Chevrolet Proto). Gordon is a "Dakar-expert", started his Dakar-career with Volkswagen in Africa. Baldwin is a Dakar-newbee. But in their home-country and especially the SCORE races like the legendary "Baja 1000" both are fighting "with knifes between their teeth" and are known to be not best friends. And Baldwin just has won the Baja 2013 - against Gordon. Both are driving with Toyo Tires, ok - but Baldwin with Gordon´s old sponsor "Monster Energy". A second point why they are not best friends.
And Russia? Gadasin? G-Force? Former G-Force pilot Vladimir Vasilyev opened his wallet and changed to X-raid Mini - and his fastest compatriot could be Leonid Ogorodnikov in an Overdrive Toyota Hilux. Additional we have some new names - an some well known names like Ilya Kuznetsov (car is open), Anton Grigorov with an OS-Car, Artem Varentsov with his Toyota and - could this true - Sergey Savenko with a Russian GAZ! Only one G-Force is listed with Roman Briskindov. So no big business from our G-friends from Saint Petersburg.
So, Russia is providing the biggest team from Eastern Europe? Yes! Followed by Poland with 6 cars, Kazakhstan (ok, it´s mostly Asia) with 3 cars, Lithuania (2) and Slovenia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Hungary with 1 car each.
Which country is dominating? Sure, it´s a French organized race, so France will have the most cars. 36 to be exact. Followed by Argentina with 26 cars, Holland with 11 cars and Chile with 9 cars. The southern American teams are growing: Bolivia with 5 cars, Columbia and Peru with 3 cars each, Brazil with 2 and Equador, Paraguay and Mexico with 1 car each.
Some years before we saw dozends of teams from Spain, Portugal and Italy. And in this year? Only 4 teams from Italy, 3 teams from Spain, 2 from Portugal and with Albert Llovera also one car from Andorra (MD Buggy), definetely the smallest country between all competitors. Interesting: Only two Arabic countries are in the race, Nasser Al Attiyah with his Mini from Qatar and Yasir Seaidan from Saudi Arabia (Polaris RZR, yes, ASO is counting them as cars).
And Germany? The land of the BMW, (X-raid) Mini, Volkswagen, Opel, Audi, Mercedes cars and trucks, MAN-trucks? Hmm, it looks like the Germans like to invent and construct cars and trucks - and have the maybe winning-team and cars with X-raid - but they don´t like to drive their own products. Only Stephan Schott trust in his Mini, whilst Rainer Wissmanns will start with a british Bowler, operated by Cummins France.
Ah, the British competitors: We counted only 3 teams from the UK. The Queen this is maybe equal, but her grandchild and the maybe heir apparent Prince Harry is supporting the "Race2Recovery" team. That´s nice, bytheway our best regards to Princess Kate. She looks beautiful - but this has nothing to do with the Dakar. Maybe Harry and Kate will follow "Prince Albert II of Monaco" (who competed in 1985 and 1986 in the Dakar) and also his sister "Princess Caroline of Monaco" (today "of Hannover"), she competed in 1985. Albert with a car and Caroline as navigator in a truck. Bytheway, in 1985 the Dakar had 420 cars - instead of 152 today. But this is an other story.
Want to see country details? Here we go:
France: 36, Argentina: 26, Holland 11, Chile 9, Russia 8, Poland 6, Bolivia 5, Italy & South Africa & USA 4, Spain & Kazakhstan & Peru & Columbia & UK 3, Portugal & Brazil & Germany & Canada & Australia & Lithuania 2 and finally Qatar, China, Japan, Andorra, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Saudi Arabia, Equador, Hungary, Paraguay, Slovenia and Mexico with 1 car each.
Uff, you have read article up to here? Still not tired? Ok, we have a final goody for you. Remember the "funny cars" like the Citroen 2CV, the Jaguar XJ12 or the "running French Fries car" in the past years? Ok, we can´t tell you about funny cars, but interesting ones.
Jose Garcia and Emiliano Spataro from Argentina will come with two Renault/Dacia Duster. Rally-legend Miki Biasion (Italy) with the funny Fiat Panda (called Pan-Dakar), as written Sergey Savenko (Russia) with a GAZ, Ebert Dollevoet from Holland and Lino Sisterna from Argentina with two Fast-Speed Volvo Buggies, Martin Maldonado and Juan Silva from Argentina with two Mercedes ML Prototypes (the only two Mercedes in the race!).
Rafael Sanchez (Argentina) with a Hyundai, Dakar-legend and quad-winner Josef Machacek together with our friend Vlastimil Tosenowsky from the Czech Republic with a buggy, Peter Jerie from Australia with the only Isuzu and finally we will see again the legendary Frenchman Etienne Smulevici (66-years old!). Ah sorry: Next to Japanese Jun Mitsuhashi again Xavier Foy from Spain will again fight for the crown in the T2 (production) class - both with Toyota Land Cruiser.
Some final facts? How many brands do you think will be at the start in South America? Ok, we don´t count all the buggies because mostly nobody can say what technical stuff they are using. So let us say, we have 22 nonspecific 2-wheel drive buggies - and without them 28 brands (from which we know the technical ingredients, doesn´t matter if 4x4 or 4x2). Overall we have 152 cars. Ready?
Toyota is dominating with 47 (!) cars, followed by Mini (11), Polaris (6) and Nissan / Bowler / Ford with 5 cars each. Remember the times when Mitsubishi dominated the brands? It´s over - we are counting only 4 Mitsus. Same amount as Desert Warrior and Volkswagen. With 3 cars each we will see Can Am, Chevrolet, SMG Gache, Great Wall and BMW. 2 cars each are coming from Volvo-Fast Speed, Os-Car, Mercedes Benz, Renault-Dacia and Jeep. And with 1 car we have Hummer, Dessoude Proto, Fiat, G-Force, GAZ, Honda, Dodge, Hyundai and Isuzu.
The Dakar is always a surprise!
2013/11/21 | 06:00 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS