The Dakar contenders reached the capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires, on Saturday 14 January after an epic race of some 9,000 km that will go down in history. Countless difficulties arose in their path and the organisers weren't spared either, for instance when they had to cancel two stages due to the weather conditions. The many teams supported technically by Motul experienced daring moments, times of doubt, sheer hell and, sometimes, glory, all inherent in the event and the discipline!
Xtremeplus Polaris Factory Team perfectly mastered the situation in SSV. 100% of its five buggies reached the arrival and represent 100% of the teams ranked! 'My dream has come true!' commented Brazilian Leandro Torres, winner in his second Dakar teamed with his compatriot Lourival Roldan. 'It was hard but I was more aggressive than last year and simply loved the specials on terrains that were different every day: pebbly, soft sand, dirt... but the liaison sectors were really very long and difficult because of temperatures at times almost 50°C and at other times just 5°C...' Chinese rookies, Wang Fujiang and Li Wei took 2nd place.
The Honda South America Rally Team rider, Franco Caimi, came into the limelight by finishing 1st rookie in Moto, in a solid 8th place overall. Team Sherco TVS Factory Rally Team isn't likely to soon forget its start to the Dakar when Joan Pedrero won the first stage. A few navigation mistakes came at great cost for him and the Spaniard finished 13th but the potential is there. The Franco-Indian structure will no doubt continue surprising us and will be back up there at the front.
As for the Motul team that created the most buzz, it didn't win but clinched half of the stages, a record for this 39th staging. One of the great merits of Monster Energy Honda Team is to have kept a cold head right to the end and to have remained steadfast despite the huge blow it received at the end of stage four: a one hour penalty for each of its four riders for having wrongly interpreted the refuelling regulations. Winner of four stages, Joan Barreda came 5th, 43 minutes off the winner, and 9 minutes ahead of another CRF450 RALLY, that of Paulo Gonçalves. 'The result is hard to accept but we'll come back stronger' stated Honda factory team general manager Martino Bianchi.