Dakar 2018: Stage Fourteen Updates
Words by Afzal Rawuther
Two time WRC champion Carlos Sainz cruised towards his second Dakar win in Dakar 2018. Having won a stage each on either side of the rest day in La Paz, the Spainard had a relatively smooth Dakar after he safely navigated the attritional first leg in Peru. He finished the Dakar 44 minutes ahead of Nasser Al-Attiyah, who in turn finished ahead of his Toyota Giniel De Viliers. Peugeot had a bitter sweet end to their Dakar campaign with their third victory in four attempts, in their final Dakar. Sainz’s teammate Stephane Peterhansel lost over two hours when he broke his suspension, while leading the rally, but recovered brilliantly to finish fourth.
In the bikes category, KTM’s Matthias Walkner finished first to clinch a maiden Dakar title for himself and the 17th consecutive title for KTM. He finished five and a half minutes off the final stage winner’s pace, Honda’s Kevin Benavides that comprised of a 120 km loop. In the overall standings, he eventually finished 17 minutes ahead of Benavides and 23 minutes ahead of KTM teammate Toby Price. Antoine Meo and Privateer Gerard Farres made it four KTMs in the top five standings. Surprisingly, Walkner won one stage in this year’s Dakar, where he rode sensibly as all but two of the frontrunners lost their way and massive amounts of time. The only other frontrunner who didn’t get lost- van Beveren had a crash that forced him to retire and Walkner was rewarded for his consistency with a huge lead in the overall standings, which he held on to till the end of the rally.
Hero Motosports rookie Oriol Mena had an incredible Dakar finishing 7th overall, despite riding the previous generation bike, while his teammate CS Santosh from India finished 34th overall, recovering from early issues that had pushed him beyond 50th in the overall classification. The lone remaining rider Sherco-TVS rider Joan Pedrero had a splendid run as well finishing 11th overall.
Amongst the quads, Ignacio Casale finished first overall with a lead of over an hour and a half over his closest rival. Reinaldo Varela finished an hour faster than everyone else to seize the victory in the SxS category. Eduard Nikolaev finished the Dakar on a high with a lead of almost four hours at the finish line in the trucks category, to win his fourth Dakar.