Reduced To The Loeb-Peterhansel Duel And The Sam Sunderland Cavalcade In 2017

Reduced to the Loeb-Peterhansel duel and the Sam Sunderland cavalcade in 2017, will the Dakar have a more exciting 40th anniversary? The elements are there for, with more contenders in cars and motorcycles.

Reduced To The Loeb-Peterhansel Duel And The Sam Sunderland Cavalcade In 2017

A first for the last? Star rider SĂ©bastien Loeb sets out on a third and final attempt to add the Dakar to his record, but the contenders collide with him before Saturday's start in Lima.

Ninth in 2016, second in 2017, Logic would have it that the Alsatian, always progressing in rally-raid with Peugeot, be crowned on January 20 on arrival in Cordoba in Argentina, to mark even more of his imprint. History of his sport and join the Finns Ari Vatanen and Juha Kankkunen or the Spaniard Carlos Sainz as WRC world champions crowned in the dunes.

For me, it's a bit like the year or never for the win. We know we can do it, told the nine-time WRC world winner. But his training in rally-raid is as quick as it is rough. His promising performance on the Dakar-2017 thus followed by two disappointments, a retirement on the Silk Way, and then the second place in Morocco after he had long run in the lead.

Heavier Peugeot, lighter competition

Accompanied by his long-time co-driver Daniel Elena, we experienced in rally-raid an exit from the road, technical and navigation problems. We've done them all already! He laughs, hoping things will finally turn in his favor because time is running out. For him as for Peugeot, this Dakar will be the last.

The Montbéliard builder remained on a historic treble last year. In 2018, he was aiming for no less than another fireworks display at the finish line, which makes Loeb's teammates his most serious opponents.

On the front row, two-time defending champion Stephane Peterhansel sets off to add one unit to his record of success 13. Five times crowned on the bike, Cyril Despres also seems in good shape, in the wake of his victorious Silk Way in July.

It remains to be seen whether the 3008 DKR Maxi will achieve the same mechanical feat as its predecessor, less stable but lighter, due to new regulations on minimum mass. We take 70 kg, while our direct competitors reduce from 65 to 100 kg. These are never-before-seen variations. It seems disproportionate to us, plague Bruno Famin, the boss of the Peugeot team.

The station in Nasser Al-Attiyah and his Toyota

The formidable Qatari dune crosser, Nasser Al-Attiyah Toyota Gazoo, on his 4x4 Hilux, which has regained pace, could thus benefit from a boost. Just like Spaniard Nani Roma, back at Mini, who will present a 4x4 for the former motorcycle rider, while former WRC rider Mikko Hirvonen will have a Mini buggy at his disposal.

The car is perfect and faster. The rules are fair, but this is not an advantage because they are the same for everyone, explains Al-Attiyah, who had to give up on the 3rd day last year: 2017 allowed us to better prepare for this Dakar.  There is more motivation. I am full of confidence. 

The 47-year-old Qatari also leaves with an advantage: his knowledge of the desert served as the start of the Dakar from the first week, and which can be very complicated for Loeb, aware of his weakness on the sand.

Van Beveren, the best French chance on a motorcycle

On the motorbike side, the dunes at the start will make it possible to identify a hierarchy among the list of contenders, many. In front of him, the English title holder Sam Sunderland will have to deal with his KTM teammates, the Austrian Matthias Walkner, the Australian Toby Price, and the French Antoine Meo.

But it is not only the KTM armada, and the northern leader of Yamaha, Adrien Van Beveren, fourth in the Dakar-2017 and triple winner in the past of the enduro of Le Touquet, concedes having the victory in a prominent corner of his head.

It's a year-round preparation; it's my job—everything based on this on the Dakar, editor's note. Even though I do other races in the year, I call them preparation races to be optimal in the Dakar. I slept in a tent that simulates the altitude throughout the beginning of December, about 20 days at 3,000 meters, at home, he reveals. It's been four editions since France and twenty since Yamaha no longer dominates this category, so we understand his attention to detail.

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