11 Jan 2014


There was a script for this year's Dakar Rally, but after six stages and a day or more of flat-out driving, no-one seems to have read it. The event has thrown up many surprises between Rosario and Salta in Argentina, but seems to have settled down at the mid-point.

Stage winners

Stage 1: Carlos Sousa (Haval)
Stage 2: Stephane Peterhansel (Mini)
Stage 3: Nani Roma (Mini)
Stage 4: Carlos Sainz (SMG)
Stage 5: Roma
Stage 6: Peterhansel

The form book said Stephane Peterhansel should walk away from the front, but he wasn't even in the top five after Stage 1. Carlos Sousa took a surprise win in the unfancied Haval - he said the heat in the un-air-conditioned CAR spurned him on: he wanted to get out! The X-Raid Minis of Orlando Terranova and Nasser Al-Attiyah rounded out the podium, than less than a minute behind.

Sousa dropped out of contention on Stage 2 with a blown turbo. Peterhansel took his first stage win, moving into the overall lead. Carlos Sainz was close behind in his SMG Buggy, followed by the Imperial Toyota of Giniel de Villiers. Sainz ended the day second overall, with Al-Attiyah third.

Peterhansel endured a torrid Stage 3, picking up six punctures as he cleared the road. Nani Roma capiltised, winning the stage and taking the overall lead. Roma's teammate Krzysztof Holowczyc and Toyota man Leeroy Poulter finished third. Terranova finished fourth, vaulting past Al-Attiyah into second overall as Sainz failed to make the top five.

Sainz fought back on Stage 4 to take the win, claiming the overall lead from Roma who lost 14 minutes on the stage. Peterhansel and Al-Attiyah were some way back in second and third. Roma displaced Terranova from second overall, while Al-Attiyah remained third.

Sainz dropped out of contention on Stage 5, getting lost and incurring a one hour penalty for missing a way point. Roma picked up his second stage win, in front of de Villiers and a distant Robby Gordon, enduring yet another trying event in his brand-new Hummer. Roma, Al-Attiyah and Terranova all moved up one place in the overall standings to first, second and third respectively.

Peterhansel managed to grab his second win on Stage 6, with only a narrow margin over Al-Attiyah in second and Terranova in third. Despite finishing the stage down in sixth, Roma retains a half-hour lead heading into the second week. Terranova lies second, while Al-Attiyah having fallen to fifth after a one hour penalty. Peterhansel has moved up to third, 33 minutes down, maintaining the all-Mini podium.

Unfortunately for Roma, 30 minutes is not much of a margin when there's still seven stages to go through Bolivia and Chile. And the Andes to cross.

Sadly both of the Race2Recovery Wildcats retired after Stage 2. Navigator Philip Gillespie lost the chance to repeat his record of being the only amputee to finish the Dakar when the head gasket blew on his and driver Ben Gott's car. Tony Harris's hopes of becoming the first amputee driver to finish were dashed after an end-over-end roll. He and co-driver Quin Evans made it to the end of the stage, only for the mechanics to discover a large crack in the rollcage. The team's Renault race truck is still in event, albeit last over 250 hours behind after (many) penalties. It'll still be a massive achievement if they finish.

Top 10 runners after Stage 6

1. Nani Roma - Monster Energy X-Raid Mini ALL4 Racing - 22h11m28s
2. Orlando Terranova - Monster Energy X-Raid Mini ALL4 Racing - +30m30s
3. Stephane Peterhansel - Monster Energy X-Raid Mini ALL4 Racing - +33m23s
4. Giniel de Villiers - Imperial Toyota Hilux - +40m54s
5. Nasser Al-Attiyah - Qatar X-Raid Mini ALL4 Racing - +1h22m35s
6. Carlos Sainz - Red Bull Rally SMG Buggy - +1h59m38s
7. Marek Dabrowski - Orlen Toyota Hilux - +1h59m39s
8. Pascal Thomasse - MD Rallye Optimus Buggy - +2h21m08s
9. Krzysztof Holowczyc - Monster Energy X-Raid Mini ALL4 Racing - +2h28m57s
10. Adam Malysz - Orlen Toyota Hilux - +2h43m13s