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2018 Dakar Rally: Best moments of the world's toughest race

2018-01-22 11:38

Rouel van Nelson

Image: Youtube

Argentina - It was almost a fairy tale ending, no one could have possibly scripted the finale of the 2018 Dakar Rally that well. 

All who followed the progress of the event, especially the progress of the Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa team must have been on the edge of their seats.

Following Carlos Sainz win at the 2018 Dakar Rally, here are some of the best moments from this year's installment of the most grueling race on the motorsport calendar. 

Opening stage

Toyota's Nasser Al-Attiyah again showed his determination to end the reign of Peugeot with a victory that holds the promise of several more. The Qatari's team mate, Bernhard ten Brinke, confirmed the stellar performance of the new Toyota while Stéphane Peterhansel was forced on the defensive. 

Nasser Al-Attiyah chats to Wheels24 in Pisco

D-1?? #Dakar2018 #Dakar40th ????????????

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Reality check - Stage 2 gives a preview of things to come

The first long stage of Dakar 2018 quickly reminded the race crews exactly why this race has the reputation of being the world’s toughest automotive event. At 267km in length, Stage 2 comprised nothing but dunes – and a stern challenge for both the drivers and their navigators. Toyota SA’s Giniel de Villiers and navigator Dirk von Zitzewitz were the fastest of the Toyota Hilux crews, posting the fourth-fastest time on the day.

Toyota to step up

It was arguably the first opportunity for Toyota Gazoo Racing SA to measure its performance on Dakar 2018. The opening stage was too short, with lots of strategy at play; while Stage 2 saw Nasser Al Attiyah/Mathieu Baumel open the road, with the French navigator falling ill mid-stage. Bernhard ten Brinke/Michel Périn followed hot on the heels of their team mates but only Giniel de Villiers/Dirk von Zitzewitz were in a position to attack.

Stage 3, however, saw Al Attiyah starting in 7th place and the Qatari superstar quickly pounced. Together with Baumel, the pair attacked right from the start, pushing hard and making up time throughout the 296 km-long special stage. With that said, their blitzkrieg was hampered by two punctures, which cost them the best part of three minutes mid-stage.

Image: Dakar.com

Loeb vs Sainz - Stage 4

Sébastien Loeb won his first stage victory of the year ahead of Carlos Sainz, whilst Stéphane Peterhansel finished in third, concentrating on controlling the overall standings. Al-Attiyah lost almost one hour; a skilled dune driver, he nevertheless twice got stuck in the sand. 

In the quad category, Sergey Karyakin finally put a stop to Ignacio Casale’s domination thanks to a narrow victory over the general standings leader. In the truck race, Eduard Nikolaev is enjoying a dream Dakar in his Kamaz, with a third consecutive victory crowned by a big lead over Federico Villagra.

Image: Dakar.com

Peterhansel owns Stage 5

Motorcylist Joan Barreda leaped nine places up the general standings, opening up a 10 minute gap over Matthias Walkner and Kevin Benavides at stage 5 of the race. In the car category, Peterhansel completed his first win of the year ahead of ten Brinkle. At this stage of the race, Peterhansel opened up a 30 minute gap over Saniz.

Image: Dakar.com

Sainz dominates Stage 6

Sainz demonstrated his dominance along the Bolivian tracks which suited him down on Stage 6. Peterhansel, finished in second four minutes behind, was comfortably in control of the general standings.

In the truck category, Federico Villagra made the difference at the end of the special to pick up his second stage victory, more than two minutes ahead of the rest of the pack.

Image: Dakar.com

Barreda wins his third stage victory

Honda's Barreda claimed his third stage win at the 2018 Dakar Rally as Adrien van Beveren, on a Yamaha, reclaimed the overall motorcycle lead.

Barreda finished the seventh stage, between Bolivian capital La Paz and Uyuni, with a 2min 51sec advantage over Van Beveren and 8min 02sec in front of Argentina's Kevin Benavides, the Honda rider who had led the race overnight.

Van Beveren leads the event with a 3min 14sec advantage over Benavides while he has a 4min 45sec gap on Barreda.

Stage 8 -  KTM vs Honda vs Yamaha 

Antoine Meo won the eighth special stage of the Dakar Rally between Uyuni and Tupiza in Bolivia but his compatriot Adrien van Beveren retained the motorcycle overall lead.

Meo, riding a KTM, won for the second time in the race taking the 498-kilometre stage in 5hr 24min 1sec. American Ricky Brabec was second on a Honda 1min 8sec back and another KTM rider, Australian Toby Price was third.

Van Beveren, who rides a Yamaha, lost 8min 44sec but remains 22 seconds ahead of Argentine Kevin Benavides in the overall standings.

Stage 9 cancelled - everyone gets a break

Dakar Rally organisers decided to cancel the stage from Tupiza to Salta in Argentina. Stage 9, which was set to feature a 242km timed section, was cancelled due to poor weather. 

Stage 10 - Mixed results for Toyota Gazoo Racing SA

The stage consisted of 373km of racing, split into two sections, with a massive 424km liaison preceding the stage. It was a return to lower altitudes for the Dakar, but at the same time it was a return to the soft sand and camel grass that is synonymous with the town where the stage ended: Belen.

It was a very good day in the saddle for de Villiers and von Zitzewitz, who started Stage 10 as the 8th car on the road. Despite De Villiers suffering from an upset stomach early in the stage, the pair powered through to post the second-fastest time of the day, just 08:47 behind stage-winner Peterhansel (Peugeot).

Image: Motorpress

Sainz in control at Stage 11

Sainz had his second Dakar rally title in his sights after overcoming his second tough exam in the Argentine dunes in the 11th stage and maintaining his lead over Peterhansel in the general classification.

Sainz was an hour ahead of fellow Peugeot driver Peterhansel with three stages of the rally to go after finishing third at this stage of the race, 10 seconds ahead.

Al Attiyah's prolific status 

Stage 12 saw Toyota Gazoo Racing SA’s Qatari driver, Nasser Al Attiyah, notch up his twelfth stage victory in the Dakar Rally. More importantly, this was his third win for 2018, and cements his third place in the general rankings. 

Almost there Sainz!

Veteran Sainz closed in on a second Dakar Rally title, as the Peugeot driver finished sixth behind penultimate stage winner Toyota's Al-Attiyah.

Al-Attiyah cruised to his third win of the race in the 13th stage by 11 minutes and 16 seconds from Lucio Alvarez, as Sainz consolidated his overall lead.

Sainz victorious at the 2018 Dakar Rally

Sainz clinched overall victory in the 2018 Dakar Rally on Saturday, finishing safely after the 14th and final stage around Cordoba in Argentina for his second win in the race.

The 55-year-old, the father of Renault Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz Jr, ended atop the overall standings ahead of a pair of Toyota drivers - two-time winner Al-Attiyah and de Villiers in third.


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