Date: Friday 15th January
Location: Yanbu > Jeddah
Length: 247km liaison + 200km special
Today we saw the climax of the 2021 Dakar Rally after 8000 kilometres of competition over the last two weeks. All that stood between Stephane Peterhansel, Kevin Benavides, Francisco ‘Chaleco’ Lopez and Dmitry Sotnikov and the category victories, was a 200kilometre test which saw the teams head back towards Jeddah where the 43rd edition of the Dakar Rally started almost two weeks ago.
Peterhansel was crowned the winner of the 2021 edition taking his eighth win in the car category and his 14th since the start of his Dakar career back in 1991 where he entered in the bikes.
The X Raid Mini JCW Team driver took another record, becoming the only competitor who has won the Dakar Rally on all three continents in which it has taken place since its inception. Peterhansel has led the proceedings since stage two of the competition and only ever having won a single stage on the event – stage nine. The Frenchman finished the final stage behind his rivals Carlos Sainz and Nasser Al-Attiyah, but won the overall crown by just under 14 minutes from Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Al-Attiyah. The Qatari has been hot on his tail through the entire twelve stage-rally raid.
Carlos Sainz won the final stage, two minutes clear of Al-Attiyah, but finished third overall an hour behind team-mate Peterhansel. Sainz’s win was a rewarding moment after the Spaniard suffered with many issues over the course of the Dakar, including navigation and punctures.
Jakub Przygonski scored his career best fourth overall, two-and-a-half hours down on Sainz, after finishing sixth on the final stage.
2014 Dakar winner Nani Roma finished in fifth place overall, which was a great result for the Spaniard and for his team Bahrain Raid Xtreme, on their first Dakar. The Prodrive run team had lost their other driver, nine-time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb, on stage eight after he suffered from a raft of mechanical issues and was plagued by punctures.
Fellow ex-WRC competitors Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi and Martin Prokop finished in the top ten overall too, in seventh and ninth place respectively.
- Carlos Sainz / Lucas Cruz – X Raid Mini JCW Team – 02:17:33s
- Nasser Al-Attiyah / Matthieu Baumel – Toyota Gazoo Racing – 02:19:46s
- Stephane Peterhansel / Edouard Boulanger – X Raid Mini JCW Team – 02:20:26s
Overall classification after Stage 12:
- Stephane Peterhansel / Edouard Boulanger – X Raid Mini JCW Team – 44:28:11s
- Nasser Al-Attiyah / Matthieu Baumel – Toyota Gazoo Racing – 44:42:02s
- Carlos Sainz / Lucas Cruz – X Raid Mini JCW Team – 45:29:08s
Kevin Benavides has only entered five Dakar rallies, and his fifth would become his most successful as the Argentinian was crowned the victor of the bike category. Benavides became the first winner from South America, and only the third competitor to be crowned the winner from outside of Europe, following in the footsteps of Toby Price and Ricky Brabec.
Benavides has had a rocky rally, with the Monster Energy Honda rider crashing on stage five and half-breaking his nose in the process, but came to impress in the second half of the competition, securing his win of the 43rd edition. It was the seventh win for Honda and the first 1-2 for Honda since 1987, with Benavides’ teammate Brabec taking the second spot from Sam Sunderland.
Sunderland had been running in contention for a solid second place finish at the end of stage eleven, however the final stage did not play into the Brit’s hands quite like he thought it would. The KTM rider missed a waypoint on stage dropping to eleventh place on stage thus slipping to third overall.
Just outside the podium, Daniel Sanders held the place of ‘top rookie’ finishing in fourth overall with Skyler Howes following in fifth.
Adrien Van Beveran suffered an engine failure on stage, meaning that all Yamaha racers failed to reach the finish line in Jeddah – record that the Yamaha team wishes didn’t attach to them after this year’s competition.
Laia Sanz had one of her best outings on the Dakar, finishing the final stage in 17th place, taking the corresponding place in the final standings.
The start of the day was rocked by the announcement of the passing of Cherpin, who had succumbed to his injuries from a crash on stage seven.
Chaleco Lopez took the class honours, which marked his second win within three years. The Chilean won by over 17 minutes to Monster Energy Can-Am’s Austin Jones.
This year was Jones’ second Dakar, with the American being right in the action throughout having even led the class twice.
Aron Domzala became a late favourite to win the class, with the Pole leading into the second half of the competition. Domzala finished in third overall after posting the eighth fastest time on the stage.
Kris Meeke won the final stage, having won the opening Prologue. The PH-Sport driver has had a bad run over the two-week competition with a plague of mechanical issues affecting his performance. He has had the pace so fingers crossed we see an entry from him next year.
This was Michal Goczal’s first Dakar and to be the best of the rest, finishing in fourth overall and taking the final podium spot on the final stage is a great feat!
It comes as no surprise that we see Dmitry Sotnikov take the honours after the Russian has quite simply dominated the truck class throughout the Saudi Arabian event.
Sotnikov took the overall win by just under 40 minutes to his Kamaz-Master team-mate Anton Shibalov. It was the outfit’s fifth consecutive class win, and 18th victory in their years in the competition. Airat Mardeev completed the team’s 1-2-3 takeover of the podium positions, their fourth.
Martin Macik of Big Shock Racing had been on the tail of the Kamaz trio throughout the final week, taking three stage wins. The Czech came through to win the final stage taking fourth overall – he equalled his father’s best efforts on the Dakar.
Alec Loprais finished in fifth overall, after being only the second competitor able to challenge the leading trio in the final week of the competition.
Reigning champ Andrey Karginov was only able to finish seventh overall on this year’s test, with the Russian placing sixth on the final 200 kilometre test.
- Ricky Brabec – Monster Energy Honda Team 2021 – 02:17:02s
- Kevin Benavides – Monster Energy Honda Team 2021 – 02:19:19s
- Mattias Walkner – Red Bull KTM Factory Team – 02:21:15s
Overall after stage 12:
- Kevin Benavides – Monster Energy Honda Team 2021 – 47:18:14s
- Ricky Brabec – Monster Energy Honda Team 2021 – 47:23:10s
- Sam Sunderland – Red Bull KTM Factory Team – 47:34:11s
- Kris Meeke / Wouter Rosegaar PH-Sport – 02:41:11s
- Reinaldo Varela / Maykel Justo – Monster Energy Can-Am – 02:44:26s
- Michal Goczal / Szymon Gospodarczyk – Energylandia Rally Team – 02:45:08s
Overall after stage 12:
- Francisco ‘Chaleco’ Lopez Contardo / Juan Pablo Latrach Vinagre – South Racing Can-Am – 53:41:02s
- Austin Jones / Gustavo Gugelmin – Monster Energy Can-Am – 53:58:25s
- Aron Domzala / Maciej Marton – Monster Energy Can-Am – 54:32:55s
- Martin Macik / Frantisek Tomasek / David Svanda – Big Shock Racing – 02:32:27s
- Anton Shibalov / Dmitrii Nikitin / Ivan Tatarinov – Kamaz-Master – 02:33:27s
- Dmitry Sotnikov / Ruslan Akhmadeev / Ilgiz Akhmetzianov – Kamaz-Master – 02:34:31s
Overall after stage 12:
- Dmitry Sotnikov / Ruslan Akhmadeev / Ilgiz Akhmetzianov – Kamaz-Master – 48:23:21s
- Anton Shibalov / Dmitrii Nikitin / Ivan Tatarinov – Kamaz-Master – 49:02:59s
- Airat Mardeev / Dmitriy Svistunov / Akhmet Galiautdinov – Kamaz Master – 49:37:56s