Rallying legends Stephane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz Sr. believe the opening stages of the 2018 Dakar Rally, held in the sand dunes of Peru, have been too much, particularly for the amateur entrants, with a high attrition rate across the first five days.
The two Peugeot Sport drivers are running first and second overall as the event leaves Peru for the heights of Bolivia on Thursday, but of the ninety-one cars that began the event last Saturday, only thirty-eight remain involved, while the other classes have also seen significant departures, including some of the favourites.
Sainz believes the Peruvian stages have been too much for the amateur races, and believes officials may have to reassess their plans for future Dakar Rallies.
“The stage has been very difficult, the hardest at the moment,” said Sainz ahead of Wednesday’s fifth stage. “[It’s a] mixture of very complicated dunes; soft, very broken, and with falls. And areas of stones too.
“The start was extremely hard. I think for amateurs it has been too much, because today I do not know how many cars will finish the stage.”
Peterhansel feels the more experienced racers in factory cars will find it easier going, but agreed with Sainz that it would be the amateur’s that would find the complicated stages a far more difficult proposition.
“For us it’s okay because we are the factory cars, we have the best co-drivers and we are good drivers,” said thirteen-time Dakar winner Peterhansel.
“But for the amateurs, with a car with less performance, it would be really complicated. This Dakar is really complicated for the other competitors. More than last year, it’s really complicated.”