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This stood out in the Dakar Rally 2021: Tears in the dunes and complaining legends

This stood out in the Dakar Rally 2021: Tears in the dunes and complaining legends

17-01-2021 21:04

The second edition of the Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia ended last Friday with some brand new winners. However, Stephane Peterhansel won for the 14th time. An incredible achievement, but what else stood out?

First of all, the exciting battle with the motorcycles. It was eventually won by Kevin Benavides on his Honda, but it was only during the last days that it became clear that he was one of the three biggest contenders. The entire Rally was the top of the rankings swapping and gradually many big names dropped out due to a crash or technical problems.

Ross Branch

One of them was Ross Branch. Last year he was already one of the trendsetters and now as a factory driver for Yamaha, he went one step further. He always has nice words after the stage and when he tried to repair his bike after a crash, the usually tough Botswana let his tears run free. This made him the undisputed public favourite.

Joan Barreda Bort

Another curious name among the bikes is Joan Barreda Bort. The Spaniard has been driving for the Honda factory team for years, is considered one of the fastest drivers on the field, but the great success always fails to materialise. That is, at the end of the rally.

Barreda did have day success again. He won three stages, bringing his total to 30. With that, he is shared third in the all-time rankings, but he has never been on the podium at the end of the rally. To succeed in this, he will have to learn to navigate better, among other things.

Nasser Al-Attiyah is the fastest driver

With the cars, the field was a lot less competitive. After some major navigation errors by Carlos Sainz, the final battle went between only two men: Nasser Al-Attiyah and Stephane Peterhansel, with the Frenchman taking the longest.

Al-Attiyah thinks the Mini as a buggy has a significant advantage over his Toyota 4x4. It seems like that because Al-Attiyah was the only driver with a 4x4 who could even get close to the Minis. With six victories in the day, he was much the winner of this rally, but due to a mountain of flat tires, that turned out not to be enough.

WRC legends have trouble navigating

As mentioned, Sainz's role for the overall victory was overdue to some major navigational errors. Since this year, the teams have been more dependent on themselves because they receive the roadbook only 15 minutes before the start of a test. Also, navigators get more information to process per page.

Especially Sainz and his former WRC colleague Sebastien Loeb seemed to be affected. In any case, they complained the hardest about this change and were disappointed that as a driver they can now make less of a difference.

Participants remain enthusiastic about Saudi Arabia

When the news came out two years ago that the Dakar Rally would move to Saudi Arabia, many people were disappointed. South America was well-loved by participants and fans alike, and though Saudi Arabia might not have the best international reputation.

When it comes to driving, however, everyone seems to be very satisfied after two years, especially now that the long straights of last year have been removed as much as possible. Motorcyclists in particular still complain about too many stones, but the majority of the reactions show that the varied and especially open landscapes are extremely suitable for a Rally Raid event.

This article was written and originally published by Pelle on the Dutch edition of GPblog.com.

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