At the Red Bull Party tonight in Santiago it will of course be the winners of the 2013 Dakar that will be held aloft by their team-mates. However, a look down the leaderboards of the Dakar reveals a host of other competitors with plenty to celebrate.
Let’s not forget that only 67% of the vehicles that started in Lima made it to the finish line in Santiago. Completing the Dakar is a victory in itself and to achieve it on your first visit to the race is a spectacular achievement.
Kurt Caselli struggled to the top of his own personal learning curve this year but he was never alone on his Dakar debut. The biker from the States soon tapped into the unique atmosphere that lives inside the bivouacs of the Dakar. Friendships such as the one he struck up with KTM team-mate Darryl Curtis are vital to surviving the Dakar.
“My team-mate Darryl Curtis was giving me tips all through the race and then he suffered a nasty crash on one of the last stages. The fact he got back on his bike and rode out the last days of this race in such pain shows what a top guy he is. When I go back home and tell people that one of my team-mates rode over 1000km with torn ligaments they just won’t get it.”
Then you have Kuba Przygonski getting over the finish line in 11th place in the bike race after he suffered the dreaded DNF in the last two editions of the Dakar. Just like Kurt, it was the team-mates of Kuba who helped him whenever he got into trouble during the marathon race through the deserts of South America.
“I think for the Orlen Team to bring three bikers across the finish line is a really excellent result. It is great to ride with my team-mates Jacek (Czachor) and Marek (Dabrowski). We were able to help each other out through the whole race so that was nice. Seeing Jacek at the finish line is no surprise to me because he has finished all of the 13 Dakars he has started. I think he is right up there with the real legends of this rally because of his consistency.”
There is also reasons to be cheerful for Adam Malysz in the car race who set himself the pre-Dakar target of finishing inside the Top 20. Despite it only being Adam’s second trip to the Dakar he was able to match his aims and will leave Santiago with the satisfaction of a 15th place finish.
“It was our consistent tempo in the race that pleased me most of all. We did not have great days or terrible days, we were just consistent throughout the whole race. Our aim before the race was to finish inside the Top 20 cars and we achieved this by coming home in a good position everyday. On every stage we came home in 15th, 23rd, 18th or 19th place, always in the same kind of area.”
Things did not go exactly to plan for the Qatar Red Bull Rally Team with the cars of Nasser Al-Attiyah and Carlos Sainz bowing out of the race before the finish line. According to Nasser the new team can look back at five stage wins out of the eight stages they completed and plan for a more successful assault on the desert next time.
“Now we can afford to think more long term and take the time we need to make improvements to our car. I’m confident that we can come back next year and compete for victory together with my team-mate Carlos (Sainz). Everybody on our team did such a great job and they can all be very proud of their efforts during this race.”
There will be plenty of focus on next year’s race just around the corner but for tonight at least there will be some well deserved desert-free fun at the Red Bull Party in Santiago.