The Dakar Rally is so absurd it verges on greatness. It is the most extreme off-road adventure in the world, combining speed, danger and fatigue, and only the most intrepid riders even attempt it. The 2014 running of the rally started in Rosario, Argentina, and covered almost 3000 miles en route to Valparaiso, Chile. This year might have been the most difficult ever for the quad riders. Usually, the motorcycles, ATVs and cars follow the same course, but this time much of the course was separated. The motorcycle riders wanted slower overall speeds, so their sections were much more technical than the car and truck sections. The quads were grouped with the motorcycles, which left them with the most difficult challenge of all. With the more technical terrain designed for two-wheelers, the quads were often on the course longer than anyone and working hard the whole time. Often, a quad racer would come into the finish with a few short hours before the start of the next day’s stage. On top of that, there were several Marathon stages where the rider has no outside mechanical assistance at the end of the day. The UTVs had challenges of their own. They were grouped with the cars, but were capable of half the top speed of the multi-million-dollar factory rally cars, so their days could also be incredibly long.
This year the results took on a very different look, at least for the ATVs. For the first time in years, one of the Patronelli brothers didn’t win. Argentinean Yamaha riders Alejandro and Marco have won the rally twice each, but this time it was Chilean Ignacio Casale in front of the standings on a Yamaha Raptor 700. Marco fell victim to the treacherous course early in the race and was unable to proceed past stage three. Can-Am rider Daniel Mazzucco was the top man in the four-wheel-drive class and eighth among all quads.
For the UTVs, it was a repeat of last year. Frenchman William Alcaraz drove his Polaris RZR to the top of this class and was 40th overall among cars—exactly where he placed in 2013 and 2012. His teammate, Nikolas Duclos, was only 14 minutes behind at the end of it all. For complete results, go to www.dakar.com. ο
After finishing second last year, Ignacio Casale finally won the 3000-mile ordeal that is the Dakar Rally.
Two-time winner Marco Patronelli went home to Argentina after stage three this year.
Since 2009, the Dakar Rally has taken place in South America, where the promoters feel they can run a safer event without losing the element of adventure.
Frenchman William Alcaraz won the demanding UTV class at Dakar, finishing 40th among the cars for the third year running.
This year the car and motorcycle courses were different. The quads ran with the motorcycles, and the UTVs were grouped with the cars. It made for very long days and short nights for both ATVs and UTVs.
You must be able to ride, navigate and also work on your own vehicle to compete in Dakar. There are Marathon stages where no outside assistance is allowed overnight.
It wasn’t an all-Yamaha show at Dakar. Chilean Gallegos Lozic was fifth overall on his Honda 700.
For most of the spectators, the rally is the biggest thing to come into their town or village in a very long time. The course changes each year, so it can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.