2016 Dakar Rally Preview – Is Peugeot strong enough to win
The 2016 Dakar Rally, one of the biggest motorsport events of the year, will start on January 2nd in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires. For a majority of the competitors, the main goal is simply to survive the toughest race in the world and reach the finish line at Rosario on January 16th.
Between those two points, the start in Buenos Aires and finish in Rosario, competitors will have to drive across Argentina and Bolivia through 13 daily stages for a total length of almost 9000 kilometers. The exact distance is 8973 kilometers, but at Dakar Rally numbers can never be exact, because the routes are changing on daily basis.
Here’s the official teaser of 2016 Dakar Rally:
110 cars will appear on the starting ramp
A total of 354 crews are numbered on the official entry list – 143 in the motorbikes’ category, 46 quads, 55 trucks and 110 cars. In recent years a percentage of retirements has been about 50 percent, so this time, we can also expect that just a half of the vehicles from the start will reach the finish.
In the most interesting category, with cars and SUV vehicles, a few factory and private teams have intentions not only to reach the finish but to win the race. The main question is whether Peugeot will succeed in breaking the dominance of Mini, which won the last four editions of Dakar Rally.
Peugeot’s Dream Team is hungry for victory
Peugeot has a bright history at Dakar Rally, with four consecutive wins from 1987 to 1990. However, after that, the French manufacturer wasn’t present on the famous race. In 2014, Peugeot formed a strong factory team and returned to Dakar Rally in 2015. Peugeot 2008 DKR was an innovative car, different from its main rivals because it only had rear-wheel drive, but wasn’t competitive enough for the top positions.
The 2015 race finished disappointingly for Peugeot’s Stephane Peterhansel, Carlos Sainz and Cyril Despres and now they are returning to South America with an evolved version of the 2008 DKR, determined to break the domination of the X-raid Team and its Mini All4 Racing machines. Peugeot’s Dream Team of drivers with 17 Dakar victories was strengthened with nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb, but he is still a rookie at Dakar Rally and it’s hard to believe that he can be at the top.
Record number of 12 Mini All4 Racing in the field
On the other hand, the German X-Raid Team is stronger than ever, with two multiple Dakar winners as the leading drivers. Qatari Nasser Al-Attiyah will defend his victory in the 2015 edition and will try to score his third Dakar triumph, while Spaniard Nani Roma will also try to reach his third win, after the 2004 success on a motorcycle and 2014 victory with Mini.
The X-Raid Team also has a famous rookie driver – Mikko Hirvonen, who retired from WRC in 2014 and joined the German squad in rally raid adventures. Hirvonen will be navigated by four-time Dakar winner Michel Perin. Fourth driver of X-Raid’s Mini will be Argentinean Orlando Terranova. A total of 12 Mini All4 Racing cars will compete at the 2016 Dakar. Other notable drivers of the Minis will be Erik van Loon, Adam Malysz, Jakub Przygonski, Harry Hunt and Boris Garafulic.
Other manufacturers also strongly represented
The line-up of drivers with Toyotas is very strong, with 2009 winner Giniel De Villiers in the #301 Toyota Hilux. His teammate in the second Hilux of Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa will be Saudi Yazeed Al-Rajhi. Some other notable Toyota drivers are Vladimir Vasilyev and WRC regular Martin Prokop.
Other manufacturers will be also represented through numerous teams. Renault Duster team will have two cars with Emilio Spataro and Christian Lavieille as drivers. Experienced Carlos Sousa will run with a Mitsubishi ASX Racing of Mitsubishi Petrobras Team, while famous Robby Gordon will again switch the car and he is coming to South America with a SV2 Gordini. A special attraction will be Dutch twin brothers Tom and Tim Coronel, who will compete with Suzuki-powered buggies.
Here’s the video which explains the route od 2016 Dakar Rally:
Peru’s government withdrew from the event
Originally, the 2016 Dakar race was supposed to be started in Peru’s capital Lima and then to take the field across Peru and Bolivia to Argentina and the finish in Rosario. But due to the El Nino effect that is expected to be particularly strong this year, Peru’s government opted against an involvement of the country. Therefore, the 2016 Dakar will be contested in Argentina and Bolivia only.
The starting podium in Buenos Aires will take place on January 2nd and on the following day the competitors will start into the first stage. On day five, the field will cross the Bolivian border to return to Argentina three days later. After a day of rest at Salta, the second week of the Dakar will take the competitors to the finish in Rosario.
Here’s the list of all competitors.