Participants are asked not to do this again.
The first Dakar in 30 years without KAMAZ has come to an end – and the participants have not been so happy about the finish line for a long time. After all, after the prologue and the first stages, it became clear: the sports director of Dakar, David Castera, took to heart the feedback from the participants on the last raid in the style of “not so hardcore, too much for beginners” – and made a route for a real race to the bottom.
If at the Dakar 2022 everyone was primarily concerned about punctures due to sharp stones, the search for flaws in the navigation book and orientation issues, now these three factors were remembered in passing – extremely dangerous dunes and potholes, difficult in themselves, came to the fore points, difficult terrain and terrain, upheavals and breakdowns. And the weather added more: half the time of the raid, Saudi Arabia was poured with rain, because the “dried” riverbeds suddenly turned out to be stormy and full-flowing, and the desert turned into a mud swamp.
After a couple of first days, the route scared even experienced riders so much that they slowed down too abruptly in any incomprehensible situation – and it didn’t always end well:
“We asked to make the Dakar somehow more difficult, and it seems that this year David Castera made it really difficult,” commented the co-driver of the nine-time world rally champion Sebastian Loeb. “Especially in navigation: longer stages, two more stages, no neutralization.”
“I must admit, we ourselves asked for a more difficult Dakar, because the latter was a little rustic,” admitted Sven Quandt, head of the Audi program. – And now we have a very difficult Dakar.
“A long and difficult race, David Castera has prepared a real challenge,” Jean-Marc Fortin, the boss of the winning Toyota, admitted after the finish. “We used to complain that it was too easy, so he decided to make it very difficult.”
Only the second part came out a little easier, because the riders already knew it approximately – another rally-raid passes through it.
“This part [of the Rub al Khali desert] is very similar to the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge,” described Guillaume de Mevius, who lost his lead in the advanced T3 ATV class two stages before the finish line due to a motor failure. “We are close to where the race is taking place.”
Although there were sometimes difficulties with navigation – at times up to head-on collisions due to ridiculous errors:
However, at this Dakar, the total number of fails, flips, accidents, mistakes and breakdowns turned out to be so huge that one of the participants in this crash, Marek Gochal, eventually finished second in his standings.
But you can understand the general mood: it was not just the best navigator who claimed the victory, but the one who pierced the fewest wheels and did not destroy the car in the first coup. Therefore, in most classes, the battle for victory was concentrated between two or three people – mostly it was fought by those who survived the meat grinder of the first couple of stages.
Incredible number of hospitalizations in the motorcycle class, the winner decided on the last kilometer: 43 seconds advantage
Probably not a single Dakar over the past five years has collected such a number of injured favorites! You can simply list: on the 50th kilometer , reigning champion Sam Sunderland went to the hospital with a broken scapula , and on the third stage, 2020 champion Ricky Brabeck joined him in the hospital with fractures .
The legendary veteran Joan Barreda Bort, the winner of 28 stages in the motorcycle class, did not reach the finish line of the 9th (only Depre and Peterhansel had more – 33 each). He also flew to the hospital with fractures.