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Rear View Mirror 1-20-14

John Schommer
Monday, January 13, 2014

Welcome to this week’s Rear View Mirror. We dedicate this RVM to the grandeur of the 2014 Dakar Rally, its amazing competitors, and those who have fallen in pursuit of one of the most monumental challenges the racing world offers.


The 2014 Dakar

The epic and grueling adventure of the Dakar has come to a close. Victors have been anointed and entered into the annals of history of the world’s longest race. Along the way, there was tragedy, dreams were born and destroyed, and, for the survivors, there must be an unimaginable sense of pride of achievement.


The 36th running of the Dakar Rally was without question one of the toughest in the history of the rally and is on record as the toughest ever run in South America. Proof can be found in the number of finishers; only 47 percent of the entrants made it all the way to Valparaiso. That means 204 vehicles in total finished the race out of well over 400 entrants: 78 motorcycles, 15 quads, 61 cars, and 50 of the big rigs completed the rally.


In the bikes, it was Marc Coma at the top of the podium. His return to the Dakar after missing the 2012 event, put the veteran KTM rider in a position to return to glory. The rest of the two-wheeled field pushed themselves and attacked Coma’s lead built on the fourth day’s marathon stage, but not one could match his experience, rhythm, and skill. This etches a fourth overall victory for Coma.


Honda’s Joan Barreda, who won five stages and gave Honda a hope of its first Dakar victory, pushed to within 30 minutes of Coma but fell apart in the dunes of Copiapo the day before the end of the rally. The result was a two-hour deficit that could not be overcome.


Coma was followed by his KTM support rider Jordi Viladoma who fought his way to second. Oliver Pain carried Yamaha to the podium, just ahead of previous Dakar winner, and the latest to switch from KTM to Yamaha, Cyril Despres. Despres fought through a large time loss to be in contention for the podium, but simply ran out of stages to continue his assault.


US - Best of Bike - Dakar 2014 by Dakar


Among the cars, it was all Mini, all day, almost every day. Of the 11 Minis entered in 2014, seven of them finished in the top 10; proof that, if nothing else, when a company puts this kind of effort to dominate a rally, the results will reflect it. The Mini is an amazing vehicle, both durable, versatile and fast, and the drivers Mini hired to race them are the best the Dakar has ever known. The Mini team’s accomplishment is only deflated by the intervention of management to freeze the top competitors before the final stages in an unnecessary effort to lock in a Mini-only podium.


Nani Roma, the third driver to take a Dakar victory on both two and four wheels, built a large advantage, while being chased by fellow Mini teammates Stephane Peterhansel and Nasser Al-Attiyah. This made for an exciting set of stages. As it should be, the drivers were forced to push their vehicles and their skills to the maximum. Fearing an accident would endanger an all-Mini podium, Mini team manager Sven Quandt told the teams to keep their positions and stop the attack. Could Peterhansel (Mr. Dakar), who achieved second place have achieved his 12th victory? Could Nasser Al-Attiyah who took third have regained the glory of the win for Qatar? We will never know; it can be said, Roma’s 2014 victory will always have an asterisk by it.


US - Dakar 2014 - Focus on Roma, Peterhansel... by Dakar


The quads continue to gain in popularity since their assimilation into the challenge of the Dakar. Among the quad class you will also find the new side-by-sides of Polaris and other manufacturers that are shaking things up with their own advantages. It won’t be long before we see this class of entry grow, given the performance of these vehicles in the ATV world and the Dakar itself.


After Marcos Patronelli leapt from his quad before it flew over a 2,000-foot embankment, who would endure and carry the quad class became the question of the day. Contestants from around the world fought the elements and terrain, but it was local talent Ignacio Casale of Chile who bore the standard and beat back the onslaught of competitors. Casale was determined and could possibly even have given Patronelli a run for his money.


Filling out the quad podium were Rafal Sonik of Poland and Dutchman Sebastian Husseini. Rookie Dakar rider Victor Gallegos placed fourth, a commanding victory in itself where a field of 40 quads was dwindled to 15 weary finishers.


US - Best of Quad - Dakar 2014 by Dakar


Finally, but far from least exciting, the behemoth trucks charged through the South American route with the kind of competitiveness and aggressiveness that is usually reserved for the cars and bikes. Iveco and Kamaz were poised for battle with Kamaz initially holding the lead before Iveco’s Gerard de Rooy built a lead that would take many stages for the competition to encroach upon.


The Kamaz of Andrey Karginov destroyed the Chilean sands and took the lead from de Rooy, but, in the final special, a vehicle spun out in front of Karginov, forcing a loss of nearly ten minutes. Iveco and de Rooy took advantage of their position and finished the stage in the lead. In the end, Dakar officials made some warranted adjustments to timing, which left de Rooy in second, giving Karginov his first Dakar victory.

In an all-out dominance of the top spots, with the exception of Iveco and de Rooy, Kamaz flooded four of the five top positions.


US - Best of Truck - Dakar 2014 by Dakar


And that, my Forza friends, is the end of another Dakar Rally and the beginning of another year of waiting and preparation for one of the most epic journeys over some of the most beautiful landscapes the world has to offer.


If you could compete in any class of the Dakar, what would you choose, and what would your build encompass? Tell me about it in the RVM thread. I would choose the big rigs and I would build a cabover, all-wheel drive, turbo-diesel beast.


See you Thursday for Heavy Metal Affliction.