Desert Wings 2016

Dakar Daily: Peterhansel and Price seal the deal

All the latest from the 2016 Dakar Rally, including exclusive video, interviews and blogs.
By Tim Sturtridge, Anthony Peacock, Joseph Caron Dawe

The final day of the 2016 Dakar Rally, and the route from Villa Carlos Paz to the finish in Rosario, Argentina was paved with a 180km special that offered up a twisting route with both sandy and rocky sections.

So close to the end…

The Team Peugeot Total drivers pose on the final day at the 2016 Dakar Rally in Rosario, Argentina
Team Peugeot Total celebrates a successful Dakar © Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

Cars: Record man Peterhansel makes it 12 Dakar wins on a special day for Peugeot

Peugeot enjoyed a day to remember and one that'll last long in the memory.

Sébastien Loeb rounded off his debut at the race with a stage win, but more significantly the day ended in a first Dakar win for the French manufacturer since 1990 and a 12th title for legend Stéphane Peterhansel.

Loeb withstood a double-pronged Mini attack from Mikko Hirvonen and Nasser Al-Attiyah, who rounded out the top three, and a 13th-placed stage finish for Peterhansel was more than enough to seal the crown thanks to the huge lead with which he'd come into the final day.

The Frenchman, who has now won the car category six times, was more than half-an-hour ahead of 2015 champion Al-Attiyah when the drivers arrived in Rosario. Giniel de Villiers took the final podium place, just ahead of Dakar first-timer Hirvonen.

"It's extraordinary. The pressure was very high, but we came through. Some of my wins count more than others, but this one's definitely in the top three. It's too early to think about the future," said Peterhansel.

One thing’s for sure, getting the same number of victories on a bike and in a car was the last big goal in my career. Now that it’s done, I don’t think there are many things left to motivate me.

– Stéphane Peterhansel

Loeb's first experience of the event, which saw him take four stage wins, ended with the nine-times WRC champion ninth overall but well-equipped with knowledge for another attempt. Brit Harry Hunt's first go at the Dakar ended well also, as he scored a top-ten finish.

"We were very competitive overall, both the car and us. We ran into some trouble in the stages with navigation, but now we know what we've got to work on.

It leaves you wanting more, even if you’ve suffered.

– Sébastien Loeb

Final standings after Stage 13
1. Stéphane Peterhansel
(FRA), Peugeot, 45h 22m 10s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT), Mini, +34m 58s
3. Giniel de Villiers (RSA), Toyota, +1h 2m 47s
4. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN), Mini, +1h 5m 18s
5. Leeroy Poulter (RSA), Toyota, +1h 30m 43s
6. Nani Roma (ESP), Mini, +1h 41m 6s
7. Cyril Despres (FRA), Peugeot, +1h 49m 4s
8. Vladimir Vasilyev (RUS), Toyota, +2h 1m 45s
9. Sébastien Loeb (FRA), Peugeot, +2h 22m 9s
10. Harry Hunt (GBR), Mini, +3h 11m 30s

Stéphane Peterhansel celebrates his Dakar Rally 2016 victory with Peugeot team-mate Cyril Despres
Stéphane Peterhansel’s running out of fingers! © Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

Tweet of the Day

The struggle is very real for the riders who compete in the Dakar without full factory support. This short video, featuring British rider Chris Cork, shows the extreme determination of those who take part, and the highs and lows they can encounter along the way.

Bikes: Price is crowned Australia’s first Dakar champion

Toby Price won his first Dakar in only his second attempt at the prestigious event, with a carefully-ridden fourth place finish on Stage 13 more than enough to seal overall victory by 40 minutes.

Pablo Quintanilla finished the 2016 Dakar on a high with the stage victory, both his and Husqvarna's first of the event, and rookie Kevin Benavides rounded off a standout debut with another top-three stage ride. Helder Rodrigues (third) and Stefan Svitko (fifth) completed the top five of the Villa Carlos Paz to Rosario route.

I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to think... I’m in shock, This is incredible for my family, my friends and my fans back in Australia! I hope this is just the start, to win again. It won’t be easy, so I’ve got to savour this victory. 

– Toby Price

With the dust settled on the final day, and Price crowned, the final standings saw fellow KTM rider Svitko second, and Quintanilla's fantastic ride on Saturday pulled him into third, just ahead of Benavides.

Three more Dakar debutants, Adrien van Beveren, Antoine Méo and Ricky Brabec, rounded off inspirational first attempts at the race not only by finishing, but by doing so in the top-ten positions, and female rider Laia Sainz scored a notable top 15 result too.

Final standings after Stage 13
1. Toby Price
(AUS), KTM, 48h 9m 15s
2. Stefan Svitko (SVK), KTM, +39m 41s
3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, +48m 48s
4. Kevin Benavides (ARG), Honda, +54m 47s
5. Helder Rodrigues (POR), Yamaha, +55m 44s
6. Adrien van Beveren (FRA), Yamaha, +1h 46m 29s
7. Antoine Méo (FRA), KTM, +1h 56m 47s
8. Gerard Farres Guell (ESP), KTM, +2h 1m
9. Ricky Brabec (USA), Honda, +2h 11m 27s
10. Armand Monleon (ESP), KTM, +3h 27m 49s

Australian Red Bull KTM rider Toby Price celebrates victory in the bike class at the Dakar Rally 2016 in Rosario, Argentina on January 16, 2016
Number One! Toby Price's first Dakar victory © Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

The Dakar comes to Europe, in mini

Ever wanted to get your hands on a Dakar car or truck? Roger van Driel might be the man you need to contact.

The Dutchman, who lives near Eindhoven, makes mini replicas of the vehicles that compete in the Dakar Rally. caught up with him to find out how he does it.

Quads: Marcos Patronelli seals a hat-trick

Marcos Patronelli returned to the summit of the quad category after sitting out the 2015 Dakar, picking up a third victory to add to his triumphs in 2010 and 2013.

The Argentine rider and his brother Alejandro were separated by just five minutes and 23 seconds at the top of the standings, in what had been a gripping finale. They finished sixth and eighth respectively on the stage.

I’m clearly over the moon. We had a spectacular Dakar. We were unlucky at the beginning, but everything went better from there. I’m rather emotional about the result. It was a tough edition. My team and my brother have also won this Dakar. It’s really amazing! 

– Marcos Patronelli

Brian Baragwanath won his third stage to confirm his place on the final podium, scoring the Stage 13 victory ahead of Giuliano Giordana and Sergei Karyakin. Russian rider Karyakin took fourth overall, and Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli was fifth on his Dakar debut. The 19-year-old has caught the attention throughout.

Previous winners Rafal Sonik (2015) and Ignacio Casale (2014) didn't make the finish of an unforgiving 2016 edition.

Final standings after Stage 13
1. Marcos Patronelli
(ARG), Yamaha, 58h 47m 41s
2. Alejandro Patronelli (ARG), Yamaha, +5m 23s
3. Brian Baragwanath (RSA), Yamaha, +1h 41m 53s
4. Sergei Karyakin (RUS), Yamaha, +1h 44m 25s
5. Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli (ARG), Yamaha, +2h 2m 8s
6. Walter Nosiglia (BOL), Honda, +4h 26m 10s
7. Alexis Hernandez (PER), Yamaha, +6h 33m 44s
8. Sebastian Palma (CHI), Yamaha, +8h 15m 33s
9. Santiago Hansen (ARG), Honda, +8h 41m 23s
10. Camelia Liparoti (FRA), Yamaha, +10h 41m 7s

Marcos Patronelli at the 2016 Dakar Rally
Third time quad winner Marcos Patronelli © Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

Trucks: De Rooy superior for second Dakar success

Dutchman Gerard de Rooy won the trucks by more than an hour when the final times were counted up, his second victory to follow his 2012 trophy.

The stage was won by his compatriot Hans Stacey, with Pieter Versluis and Eduard Nikolaev inside the top three.

Joining De Rooy on the podium in Rosario were last year's winner Ayrat Mardeev and local hero Federico Villagra.

Final standings after Stage 13
1. Gerard de Rooy
(NED), IVECO, 44h 42m 3s
2. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS), KAMAZ, +1h 10m 27s
3. Federico Villagra (ARG), IVECO, +1h 40m 55s
4. Hans Stacey (NED), MAN, +2h 23m 1s
5. Ton van Genugten (NED), IVECO, +2h 30m 59s
6. Pascal de Baar (NED), RENAULT, +3h 4m 7s
7. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS), KAMAZ, +3h 39m 23s
8. Jaroslav Valtr (CZE), TATRA, +3h 54m 30s
9. Pieter Versluis (NED), MAN, +3h 57m 52s
10. Artur Ardavichus (KAZ), TATRA, +5h 1m 6s

Stage 12: Price and Peterhansel on course

The penultimate stage of the 2016 Dakar Rally, and if the competitors thought that getting closer to the finish line meant things would ease off, they were gravely mistaken.

Stage 12, at some 900km in length, was the longest of this year’s event, with a special lasting 481km (the trucks were the only category to “get off lightly” with a special of 267km). Concentration was key on this stage, as even a little mistake could result in the ultimate frustration of making it this far but not finishing...

Dakar 2016 competitors Cyril Despres and Julio Federico Quiroga
Cyril Despres and Julio Federico Quiroga © Eric Vargiolu/DPPI/Red Bull Content Pool

Cars: Mikko Hirvonen strikes for victory

Mikko Hirvonen won the second-to-last stage on his Dakar debut to lead a Mini one-two with Nasser Al-Attiyah.

The Finn swooped at the end of the stage as he and Al-Attiyah both launched themselves past Leeroy Poulter, who led for the most part but suffered disappointment at the very end.

Poulter was out in front for much of the stage, after he and Toyota team-mate Giniel de Villiers set off on a hot pace. Al-Attiyah and De Villiers had been scrapping for second position as Poulter led, but the order was shaken up towards the end as the Mini pairing went hard.

Stéphane Peterhansel, who started the stage with a handsome lead overall, took it easy, as did his Peugeot team-mates Sébastien Loeb and Cyril Despres. The trio finished eighth (Loeb), ninth (Despres) and tenth (Peterhansel) respectively to set up for what Peterhansel hopes will be his 12th Dakar title.

General Classification after Stage 12
1. Stéphane Peterhansel
(FRA), Peugeot, 43h 27m 42s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT), Mini, +40m 59s
3. Giniel de Villiers (RSA), Toyota, +1h 7m 16s

Stéphane Peterhansel in action at the 2016 Dakar Rally
Peterhansel makes a splash on Stage 12 © Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Step inside a Peugeot 2008 DKR with Cyril Despres

If you want to know what the inside of a top-level Dakar car is like, and what everything does, then look no further than Cyril Despres who welcomed us into the inner sanctum of his Team Peugeot Total 2008 DKR:

Bikes: Hélder Rodrigues wins the stage, as Toby Price gets within touching distance of glory

Hélder Rodrigues picked up his – and Yamaha’s – first stage win of the 2016 Dakar after coming through strongly on Stage 12.

The Portuguese rider went on the attack early on, finding Honda man Kevin Benavides his main rival for the victory. The pair battled it out, and at one point it looked like Pablo Quintanilla was going to be in the mix too.

However, Quintanilla dropped off later in the stage (he finished sixth after leading at one point) and Rodrigues responded well to Benavides getting the better of the early timings to power through for the win.

Toby Price kept his lead and put himself in a great position for the following day’s finale with second place, as he got himself in front of Benavides. Antoine Méo, who’d been doing a great job of helping his KTM team-mate through the stage, had a fall 40km from the finish line and injured his hand. He eventually came in 23rd as he slipped from third to sixth in the overall standings, as Rodrigues’ win moved him up to fifth. Rookie Adrien van Beveren scored a top-five finish.

Price holds a commanding lead over Stefan Svitko heading into the final stage.

General Classification after Stage 12
1. Toby Price
(AUS), KTM, 46h 13m 26s
2. Stefan Svitko (SVK), KTM, +37m 39s
3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, +53m 10s

Toby Price in action at the 2016 Dakar Rally
Toby Price is poised for Dakar victory © Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

A secure support network

Making it to the end of the Dakar is an achievement in itself, but getting there in a top position after one of the most gruelling motorsport events is something special.

Who provides the support? KTM’s Logistics chief Markus Kettler takes us on a guided tour of a Dakar Rally support truck to show us:

Quads: Patronelli brothers set for showdown

Barring a massive upset on Saturday, the Patronelli brothers are due to settle the ultimate prize in the quads category between themselves after a victory for Marcos on Stage 12 stretched his lead over Alejandro every so slightly.

Young talent Jeremias González Ferioli looked like he was on course for his first Dakar stage win, but Marcos Patronelli blazed a trail to overtake his fellow countryman and seal his third win of the 2016 race. Walter Nosiglia and Sergei Karyakin also got past González Ferioli to get onto the podium.

Alejandro Patronelli was fifth, as he lost four minutes on his sibling in the chase for the Dakar crown.

General Classification after Stage 12
1. Marcos Patronelli
(ARG), Yamaha, 56h 24m 46s
2. Alejandro Patronelli (ARG), Yamaha, +4m 23s
3. Sergei Karyakin (RUS), Yamaha +1h 52m 7s

Marcos Patronelli in action at the 2016 Dakar Rally
Marcos Patronelli had led for most of the Dakar © Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Trucks: Pieter Versluis notches up second stage win

Pieter Versluis led home Federico Villagra and Hans Stacey for a Stage 12 victory, his second of the 2016 race, but the main upshot of the stage was that Gerard de Rooy remains a long way ahead at the top of the overall leaderboard.

Versluis looked comfortable throughout the stage, beating Villagra by just over three minutes. De Rooy, who was fifth but only five minutes down on the winner, increased his advantage over Ayrat Mardeev slightly to put himself in pole position for Dakar glory on Saturday.

General Classification after Stage 12
1. Gerard de Rooy
(NED), IVECO, 42h 29m 59s
2. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS), KAMAZ, +1h 13m 10s
3. Federico Villagra (ARG), IVECO, +1h 43m 35s

Tweet of the Day

Adrien van Beveren continues to pull out the best wheelies by far…

Stay up to date with everything happening at the Dakar 2016, with the latest tweets from competitors, videos, blogs and more at our dedicated Dakar event page.

Stage 11: Al-Attiyah and Méo take Stage 11 wins

More sand was the order of the day on Stage 11, as the Dakar moved on from La Rioja to San Juan. Before we find out what happened though, let’s take a look at some of the best action from recent days:

Carlos Sainz forced into an early Dakar finish

As the competitors lined up ready for another draining day’s pursuit, there was one notable absentee. Carlos Sainz, who had led the overall standings in cars heading into Stage 10, was forced to retire from this year’s Dakar overnight after his Peugeot 2008 DKR was deemed beyond repair. Find out more here:

Cars: Al-Attiyah chips away at Peterhansel’s lead

Nasser Al-Attiyah interrupted Peugeot’s dominance of the cars this year for a second time in four stages with victory, as he shaved nearly ten minutes off Stéphane Peterhansel’s overall lead. The Frenchman still has a commanding 50-minute advantage at the top.

Peterhansel came fourth, with Sébastien Loeb putting a couple of difficult stages behind him with second place. Loeb looked to be in for another frustrating day when he was pulled up just a few kilometres short of the finish with a mechanical problem, but he got a tow to the end of the timed section.

Peterhansel and Loeb had battled one another for the lead before Al-Attiyah picked up the pace to come through for first place. Mikko Hirvonen put in a great drive to take third, a minute ahead of Peterhansel.

General Classification after Stage 11
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA), Peugeot, 37h 42m 20s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT), Mini, +51m 55s
3. Giniel de Villiers (RSA), Toyota, +1h 17m 24s

Nasser Al-Attiyah at the 2016 Dakar Rally
Nasser Al-Attiyah at the end of a tough day © Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

Watch Loeb’s Peugeot being rebuilt

As one Team Peugeot Total driver was forced out of the 2016 Dakar, another was brought right back into it thanks to an incredible job by his crew.

Sébastien Loeb rolled his 2008 DKR on Stage 8 and the car came back to base looking very much the worse for wear. However, a slick late-night operation got him back out the following day, and here’s a time-lapse video of the mechanics at work:

Bikes: Méo makes progress with victory, Gonçalves out

Antoine Méo won his second stage of the 2016 race, holding off Toby Price for victory by just 18 seconds, as Paulo Gonçalves’ Dakar ended abruptly.

Méo battled with both Price and Pablo Quintanilla during the 431km special, eventually beating off both in another great spectacle. In finishing second, Price extended his overall lead, and Méo moved into the top three – at the expense of Quintanilla – thanks to his result. By finishing just over 12 minutes off Méo, previous stage winner Stefan Svitko lost ground in his chase of Price.

“It's amazing,” said Méo after picking up the win. “I made a little mistake and crashed before the first refuelling. After the refuelling it was very tough for navigation but I did a very good job. I'm very happy with the victory today.”

Gonçalves started the day off by receiving a 50-minute penalty, that was administered retrospectively for Stage 9. The Portuguese was pulled up for his lengthy stop at the second checkpoint on Tuesday, where he had been trying to fix his damaged Honda. His day went from bad to worse when he crashed 118km into the special, requiring medical assistance.

Yamaha had a good day, seeing Helder Rodrigues and rookie Kevin van Beveren score top-five finishes. Price will have had the biggest smile though, as his lead increased to over half-an-hour with two stages remaining.

General Classification after Stage 11
1. Toby Price
(AUS), KTM, 40h 8m 30s
2. Stefan Svitko (SVK), KTM, +35m 23s
3. Antoine Méo (FRA), KTM, +43m 46s

Antoine Méo on his debut Dakar Rally in 2016
Antoine Méo's had an impressive rookie Dakar © Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

Turning it up with Price and Viladoms

We already showed you how Toby Price and Jordi Viladoms prepped themselves for riding in the sand at the Dakar (see further down the blog), and now we’ll show you how they brush up on their sharp turns, which is an aspect of riding that can gain a rider an edge over his competitors:

Quads: Patronellis sandwich Baragwanath to set up intense finale

Alejandro Patronelli won Stage 11 of the quads ahead of Brian Baragwanath and brother Marcos to set up a grand finale to the Dakar.

Just eight seconds separate brothers Marcos – in first overall – and Alejandro after 11 stages, an incredible feat and an appetising situation ahead of the final two days.

Baragwanath remains third, but at nearly two hours off the lead.

General Classification after Stage 11
1. Marcos Patronelli
(ARG), Yamaha, 49h 36m 0s
2. Alejandro Patronelli (ARG), Yamaha, +8s
3. Brian Baragwanath (RSA), Yamaha +1h 41m 15s

Tooling up for the lonely ride

Out in the middle of nowhere with no assistance, how do the riders get themselves back on course?

Every KTM rider carries a special toolkit with which they are able to make running repairs to their bike. KTM Factory Racing chief technician Stefan Huber talks us through the selection:

Trucks: Nikolaev makes it a treble

Eduard Nikolaev won his third stage of 2016 with a five-minute margin of victory over Pieter Versluis, as Ton van Genugten beat Ayrat Mardeev to third.

Overall leader Gerard de Rooy finished sixth, but it did little damage to his advantage over Mardeev in the standings. The Dutchman still leads by over an hour heading into the final two stages.

Federico Villagra slipped further out of touch of De Rooy, losing another 13 minutes on his rival.

General Classification after Stage 11
1. Gerard de Rooy
(NED), IVECO, 39h 10m 29s
2. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS), KAMAZ, +1h 9m 21s
3. Federico Villagra (ARG), IVECO, +1h 45m 45s

Stage 10: Stéphane Peterhansel gets back on top

Following a delayed start due to the previous night’s thunderstorms, Stage 10 got under way on Wednesday with the top 10 cars, top 10 bikes and top five trucks all starting at the same time for added excitement.

The route across Argentina, from Belén to La Rioja, contained the longest dune section of the event, off-piste for the most part, so it was another day of intense navigation and careful progress…

Cars: Peterhansel returns to summit as Sainz hopes end

It was a bittersweet day for Team Peugeot Total as Stéphane Peterhansel led home a 1-2 with Cyril Despres, but Carlos Sainz saw his hopes of victory disappear.

The Spaniard, who led the overall standings at the start of the day, came in for some rotten luck, first picking up a flat tyre before getting stuck in sand and then grinding to a halt in the dunes 213km into the special.

Peterhansel set off extremely fast, and was leading the stage early on. Despres found some great form too to finish five minutes behind, and Toyota driver Vladimir Vasilyev was a top-three finisher. Nani Roma was the highest-placed Mini driver for the day in fourth, and after a couple of sobering days, Sébastien Loeb was fifth.

Despite his win, Peterhansel wasn’t without issues of his own on Stage 10.

“We had a terrible start to the special. We got lost at 32km and wandered around for at least 15 minutes. I blew a fuse because I thought I'd lost everything,” he revealed.

We took risks and threw caution to the wind. We pushed very hard because we knew today was the decisive stage.

“I had a flat tyre and started screaming my head off, I was a bit out of my mind today. However, when we got going, we were fast. We took a huge leap in the overall.”

General Classification after Stage 10
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA), Peugeot, 32h 44m 59s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT), Mini, +1h
3. Giniel de Villiers (RSA), Toyota, +1h 12m 31s

Stéphane Peterhansel races to La Rioja on Stage 10 of the 2016 Dakar Rally
Stéphane Peterhansel and Ton van Genugten race! © Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

Bikes: Svitko revels in first stage win

Stefan Svitko experienced the joy of his first-ever Dakar stage win, as he shaved a small amount off the overall lead of Toby Price.

Price came in third – behind Kevin Benavides – in a stage that only saw a spread of 5m 47s across the three fastest finishers, despite its incredibly tough course of nearly four hours’ intense riding. Price had led out fastest, but Svitko responded brilliantly.

“It was a key stage. I took it easy because my motorcycle struggled in the heat yesterday. I also focused on navigating,” said Price at the finish line. “I can ride a bit more defensively now, no need to attack to gain time like I did yesterday.

I've got some margin, but no guarantee. Anything can happen.

Paulo Gonçalves, unable to receive any overnight assistance in the repair of his motorcycle due to the marathon status of the stage, showed his level of skill by making it home in fourth and just a few seconds behind Price. Antoine Méo completed the top five for the stage.

General Classification after Stage 10
1. Toby Price
(AUS), KTM, 34h 49m 4s
2. Stefan Svitko (SVK), KTM, +23m 12s
3. Pablo Quintanilla (CHI), Husqvarna, +42m 49s

Antoine Méo races to La Rioja on Stage 10 of the 2016 Dakar Rally
Antoine Méo blitzes a trail © Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

How to prepare for the dunes?

With sand dunes playing a part in today’s action, how best to get ready for the stretches of terrain on the Dakar that contain sandy routes? Practise in them, of course.

That’s what Jordi Viladoms and Toby Price did in the lead up to this year’s Dakar. Check out this exclusive footage from Viladom’s point of view when the pair took to the sand in Igualada, Spain.

Quads: Victory for Baragwanath, but Patronellis still way out front

Brian Baragwanath took another stage win thanks to an excellent performance, but Marcos and Alejandro Patronelli remain miles ahead of the rest of the pack in the overall standings after completing the podium.

Winning by just 29s, Baragwanath sealed a super result after a close Stage 10, and by coming home second and third respectively Marcos and Alejandro distanced themselves further at the summit.

General Classification after Stage 10
1. Marcos Patronelli
(ARG), Yamaha, 43h 23m 21s
2. Alejandro Patronelli (ARG), Yamaha, +1m 32s
3. Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli
(ARG), Yamaha +1h 34m 54s

Marcos Patronelli races to La Rioja on Stage 10 of the 2016 Dakar Rally
Full pelt from Marcos Patronelli © Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

A privateer’s challenge

Riding as a privateer at the Dakar is a challenge that few can muster the courage to undertake. Jurgen van den Goorbergh doesn’t have any fears when it comes to taking it on though.

The Dutchman, who had a career spanning 11 seasons in the MotoGP World Championship through the '90s and early 2000s, has competed in the Dakar as a motorcyclist, solo car driver, and truck navigator prior to the 2016 race. Impressive credentials.

This year he’s back on two wheels, riding a KTM Rally 450 in the Malles Moto category, therefore without an assistance crew. So, it’s important Van den Goorbergh knows his way around his machine, and he’s given us a tour of it here:

Trucks: De Baar wins, De Rooy strides into greater lead

Pascal de Baar delivered a stage win for Renault in the trucks, seeing off general leader Gerard de Rooy who in turn opened up a huge lead at the top after ten stages.

With Eduard Nikolaev – who started the day second overall – losing a crushing three-and-a-half hours on the stage, and Federico Villagra almost an hour, De Rooy was able to extend his advantage to 1h 15m. Ayrat Mardeev moved into second, while Villagra holds onto a distant third.

General Classification after Stage 10
1. Gerard de Rooy
(NED), IVECO, 33h 25m 3s
2. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS), KAMAZ, +1h 15m 19s
3. Federico Villagra (ARG), IVECO, +1h 32m 47s

Stage 9: Sainz surges to top

A loop around Belen, Stage 9 served up an intensely hot day for competitors and one which the race organisers ended early on safety grounds. Tricky dunes and hot temperatures pushed the limits beyond reasonable levels, and the marathon stage with its difficult navigational characteristics was brought to an early end.

Before we find out what happened on Stage 9, take in a quick recap of what’s happened in recent days on the 2016 Dakar:

Cars: Resurgent Sainz takes win and lead

Carlos Sainz won the day and took the lead to boot after a shortened stage. The Spaniard missed out on victory by just 12 seconds the previous day, but hit back in style to wrestle the overall lead from his Team Peugeot Total colleague Stéphane Peterhansel.

On the curtailed outing it was a fresh-look podium with Mini drivers Erik van Loon and Mikko Hirvonen in the top three. Peterhansel placed seventh, and now trails Sainz by seven minutes in the fight for the Dakar crown.

Sébastien Loeb experienced a second straight day of harsh treatment by the Dakar, getting stuck in the sand on a few occasions and eventually trailing in more than an hour behind Sainz. He is now over two hours off the Spaniard in the overall standings.

General Classification after Stage 9
1. Carlos Sainz (ESP), Peugeot, 28h 39m 24s
2. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA), Peugeot, +7m 3s
3. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT), Mini, +14m 38s

How to get the perfect Dakar shot

Marcelo Maragni has been photographing the Dakar Rally ever since it started taking place in South America in 2009. The Brazilian told us his biggest adventure of the 2016 event so far in this special feature:

Photographer Marcelo Maragni takes on the Dakar Rally
Whatever, or wherever, it takes: Marcelo Maragni © Victor Eleutério

Bikes: Price on point again

Leader Toby Price secured consecutive stage wins with another display of masterful riding in difficult conditions.

The Australian led the field out after winning Stage 8, and his strong pace had him three minutes ahead by the first checkpoint. He’d more than doubled that by the time he got to the second checkpoint, after pushing hard to make the most of his high rhythm.

Paulo Gonçalves punctured his radiator on a second straight day of frustration, and Stefan Svitko was third but lost 10 minutes on the leader. The Slovak did move up to second overall though, as Gonçalves slipped out of touch with the leaders.

Pablo Quintanella moved up with a top-four stage result, and American rookie Ricky Brabec scored a top-five result. Antoine Méo is now inside the top five overall after a solid ride on Stage 9.

General Classification after Stage 9
1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 29h 53m 15s
2. Stefan Svitko (SVK), KTM, +24m 47s
3. Pablo Quintanella (CHI), +32m 14s

KTM rider Toby Price at the Dakar Rally
Toby Price leads the way in the bikes © Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

Altitude: How does it affect the competitors?

Back on Stage 5, this year’s Dakar hit peak altitude at 4,600m, and there are still some heady heights to come on the route that remains. British magazine Coach produced a short – and timely – article that explains exactly what happens to the body when being physically exerted in such conditions. Click here to read.

At around 4,600m above sea level, “pulmonary artery pressure increases in an effort to oxygenate the blood. Blood flow is prioritised to supply the brain, heart and lungs. With more blood being pumped through the arteries to the brain, headaches are common.”

That’s extreme – and gives context to this tweet from Peugeot Sport of oxygen canisters – and the competitors won’t be rising that high again before the conclusion of the race, but they’ll still be averaging around 1,000m and will hit 2,000m on Stage 10, which means they can expect this:

“Above 1,830m the body exhales and perspires twice as much moisture as at sea level, meaning you get dehydrated quicker.”


Quads: The Patronelli show rolls on as Copetti wins

Pablo Copetti won the stage in the quads as the Patronelli brothers again both finished inside the top three to strengthen their hold on the category.

Just 90 seconds separated the top three in the shortened stage, as Marcos’s lead at the top was cut almost in half to just over a minute by sibling Alejandro, setting up a nice battle between the two for top honours. They’re 40 minutes clear of Alexis Hernandez.

General Classification after Stage 9
1. Marcos Patronelli (ARG), Yamaha, 36h 27m 33s
2. Alejandro Patronelli (ARG), Yamaha, +1m 13s
3. Alexis Hernandez (PER), Yamaha +40m 9s

Quad rider Marcos Patronelli during the Dakar Rally
Marcos Patronelli holds a slim lead in the quads © Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Trucks: De Rooy firms up top spot

Gerard de Rooy enjoyed a hassle-free victory as his footing at the top of the overall leaderboard was improved to nearly half-an-hour.

The Dutchman beat off competition from Ton van Genugten and Andriy Karginov, as his gap to Eduard Nikolaev was vastly increased.

General Classification after Stage 9
1. Gerard de Rooy (NED), IVECO, 28h 30m 46s
2. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS), KAMAZ, +27m 12s
3. Federico Villagra (ARG), IVECO, +41m 24s

Tweet of the Day

Paulo Gonçalves had a rough Stage 8 on Monday, which included this heavy fall. His toughness was underlined by the fact it was just his bike which sustained damage and not him. The Portuguese rider got up and rode on!

Stage 8: Price on top as Loeb’s hopes fade

After a rest day in Salta, Argentina, when the competitors were able to recuperate after seven straight days of hard riding and driving, it was back to the grind for Stage 8 at the 2016 Dakar.

The route took those still standing (or riding/driving) onto Belen, as the second half of the Dakar kicked-off. It also brought the first dune sections of this year's race, which added extra navigational pressure. Read on to find out how things panned out.

Hands on fans: The spirit of the Dakar

One of the great things about the Dakar is how close to the action fans can get. They meet their heroes, they see the machines at extremely close quarters, and in some cases they even help competitors when they get stuck.

Here's a selection of some of the best images of the spirit of the Dakar, as realised by those who welcome it to their country:

In keeping with all things in the spirit of the race, here's a video update from Dutchman Tom Coronel, who was forced to retire from this year's race due to a mechanical issue. We included a clip of him getting a tow in Saturday's post (see further down), and here's an update from the man himself on the extraordinary kindness he received from some locals.

Cars: Al-Attiyah hits back as Loeb hits trouble

Nasser Al-Attiyah scored Mini's first stage win as the 2015 champion fought back to beat Carlos Sainz in a nail-biting finish, while Sébastien Loeb lost the overall lead.

Al-Attiyah was fastest through the checkpoints and it looked like the Qatari wouldn't be challenged for the victory, but Sainz made a surge, overtaking late on before Al-Attiyah struck back to win by just 12 seconds.

Stéphane Peterhansel took the overall lead by finishing, within 30 seconds of Al-Attiyah. His taking of P1 was aided by a day to forget for Loeb.

The Frenchman had run in second for much of the stage but became stuck in sand on the second part of the special. Quickly back on track, he then rolled his Peugeot 2008 DKR at around 510km, before repairing the vehicle with co-driver Daniel Elena and coming in more than an hour behind Al-Attiyah.

Cyril Despres struck a fine rhythm and was fourth for the day, and Mikko Hirvonen also enjoyed a productive stage coming in fifth.

Loeb's misfortune means he is now just over an hour off his team-mate Peterhansel in the general standings.

"In a rio there was a dip and I didn't see it, so we arrived, fell in and it threw the car off balance and we rolled. We broke a lot of things on the car. We had to change two wheels and change the transmission so, for sure, we lost a lot of time.

It’s finished for overall victory. I still have to take the experience. We came here to get experience first and foremost.

– Sébastien Loeb

General Classification after Stage 8
1. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA), Peugeot, 26h 1m 44s
2. Carlos Sainz (ESP), Peugeot, +2m 9s
3. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT), Mini, +14m 43s

Find out six things you probably didn't know about the event.

Mini driver Nasser Al-Attiyah on Stage 8 of the Dakar Rally 2016 to Belen, Argentina
Nasser Al-Attiyah took charge of Stage 8 © Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Bikes: Price strikes hard

Picking up his fourth stage win, Toby Price took the overall lead in the process as he laid down the law.

Antoine Meo led the bikes out having won the previous stage but struggled somewhat, eventually finished the day in eighth. Price had no such problems, overcoming a strong start from Paulo Gonçalves to finish ahead of the Portuguese and Pablo Quintanilla.

Price's win by more than five minutes meant he leapfrogged Gonçalves, and Stefan Svitko found himself a further two minutes off the lead by the end of the day.

"For sure this is another important part of the Dakar now," said the Australian. "Having the marathon stage, we've got to make sure on the first day that we don't do anything silly and break the bike or damage the bike in any way because it makes the second day a whole lot worse.

We’ve just got to make sure we get through and look after ourselves those two days.

– Toby Price

General Classification after Stage 8
1. Toby Price (AUS), KTM, 27h 28m 56s
2. Paulo Gonçalves (POR), Honda, +2m 5s
3. Stefan Svitko (SVK), KTM, +14m 14s

Australian KTM rider Toby Price competing during Stage 8 of the Dakar Rally 2016 to Belen, Argentina
Toby Price took the overall lead © Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

Trucks: De Rooy strikes back

Gerard de Rooy took back the lead of the truck category with his second stage win, displacing Pieter Versluis at the top.

De Rooy fended off Kamaz pair Eduard Nikolaev and Andrey Karginov, and finished just short of 20 minutes faster than Versluis to shake things up.

Nikolaev is now up to second behind De Rooy. Hans Stacey and Ayrat Mardeev have work to do to catch the top three.

General Classification after Stage 8
1. Gerard de Rooy (NED), IVECO, 25h 49m 26s
2. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS), KAMAZ, +7m 58s
3. Pieter Versluis (NED), MAN, +13m 29s

Find out what makes Kamaz team boss and seven-times Dakar winner Vladimir Chagin tick.

Quads: Patronelli brothers do it again

A day off didn't take any sharpness out of the Patronelli siblings, as Marcos led Alejandro in a 1–2 for the Yamaha pair.

With victory by more than five minutes, Marcos took the overall lead off his brother, while Alexis Hernandez climbed back into the top three by following them across the line on the podium.

Lucas Bonetto followed up his stage win from Saturday with a top-four finish.

General Classification after Stage 8
1. Marcos Patronelli (ARG), Yamaha, 32h 47m 25s
2. Alejandro Patronelli (ARG), Yamaha, +2m 6s
3. Alexis Hernandez (PER), Yamaha, +9m 17s

Yamaha rider Marcos Patronelli on Stage 8 of the Dakar Rally 2016 to Belen, Argentina
Marcos Patronelli kicks up some gravel © Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

Tweet of the day

It's good to see a competitor as eager and excited to get back out on his bike as Toby Price was after a day off!

Stage 7: Sainz and Meo take first stage wins

Two-time WRC world champion Carlos Sainz won the final stage before rest day while nine-time WRC champion Sébastien Loeb retook the lead of the Dakar Rally on Saturday.

The race across the border from Bolivia back to Argentina saw a dominant Loeb leading the charge, opening up a two-minute lead on his team-mates. But a turbo problem slowed his progress and Sainz, having slipped past Stéphane Peterhansel in the morning, capitalised to finish the stage 56secs ahead of the Frenchman.

“After the downer on the first day, this is a good result,” said Sainz. “We had to stop on the first day and we were almost knocked out of the race. Since then we've pushed hard to catch up and get a win. We've done that now and our strategy from here on is, as always, to keep it up!”

2015 champion Nasser Al-Attiyah split the Peugeots with his MINI, getting past overnight leader Stéphane Peterhansel to take third place and depriving the French team of another 1-2-3 finish.

Although Peterhansel lost the lead and was five seconds off the third-place finish, odds are that M. Dakar was keeping his eye on next week’s longer and more technically demanding stages and resisted the temptation to push his Peugeot DKR 2008 too hard.

Also celebrating was another rookie: Mikko Hirvonen, who edged out 2009 Dakar champion Giniel de Villiers to take fifth place overall. Meanwhile Cyril Despres enjoyed a change in fortune, setting the sixth-fastest time on the stage.

General Classification after Stage 7
1. Sébastien Loeb
(FRA), Peugeot 21h 46m 28s
2. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA), Peugeot, +2m22s
3. Carlos Sainz (ESP), Peugeot, +4m 50s

Desert Wings 2016