Here are the top 10 Leading Dakar Rally Competitors of 2017
KTM 450-Moto champion, 5 stage wins
Price’s five stage wins are more than what any other challenger sealed in any category and a final 40-minute lead over his closest rival – the ever-consistent Stefan Svitko – is a pretty good indicator of his sheer pace.
Yamaha, Honda, and Husqvarna have all shown they mean business in Dakar but, with Price at the driver’s seat, KTM still appears as strong as ever.
Peugeot 2008DKR16-Avto champion, 3 stage wins
Dakar legend Peterhansel is nothing if not complete – reliable, quick on all types of terrain and extremely motivated. In a way, the Frenchman didn’t seem to command the same level of admiration as Loeb or Sainz from the Dakar fanbase, which is unfortunate as he once more proved he’s the finest competitor in the rally’s history.
The unfortunate matter of the X-raid appeal still hangs over his victory, it would be a massive shame if this costs him a milestone 12th Dakar win.
GERARD DE ROOY
Powerstar IVECO-Trucks champion, 3 stage wins
The Dutch man De Rooy took victory by winning three stages, bringing his total to 30, driving carefully and not making any mistakes. His goal, of course, is to win the Dakar again in 2017, exactly 30 years after his dad Jan de Rooy made history by winning and laying the foundations for many Dutch successes with the trucks in the years to follow. De Rooy will team up with the same crew he won the 2016 Dakar
The IVECO was clearly a great truck to have, but de Rooy himself was basically faultless, which was amply demonstrated by his winning margin of more than 70 minutes.
Peugeot 2008DKR16-Retirement (cars), 2 stages wins
Sainz was every bit quicker than his Peugeot teammates through the road stages. When Loeb dropped out on the dunes, it seemed like a straight fight between him and Stephane Peterhansel – a fight that was see-sawing all the time and was certainly far from decided right until Sainz’s gearbox gave up the ghost.
X-raid ALL4 Racing Mini-4th in cars, 1 stage wins
The highs of Hirvonen’s Dakar debut paled in comparison to those of perennial rival Loeb – and yet finishing ahead him is arguably representative.
While the Peugeots were in another time zone early on, Hirvonen did often challenge Al-Attiyah for the top spot among the X-raid Mini contingent – and, surprisingly, he didn’t really drop off when dunes and navigation came into play, probably in no small part due to his veteran co-driver Michel Perin.
The Finn has proven a brilliant acquisition for X-raid and is already a force to be reckoned with in the off-road category.
Peugeot 2008DKR16-9th in cars, 4 stages wins
Arguably the biggest draw of the 2016 race, the rallying legend did not disappoint on his Dakar debut. Far from it, in fact – while Loeb promised a learning rally, the topping four stages showed how he was not taking it easy.
If he sticks with cross-country rallying, he’ll be a Dakar winner in no time. The desert will come to Loeb soon enough and, as for the roads, he’s already as good there as anyone can hope to be.
Honda CRF450 RALLY-Retirement (bikes), 1 stage wins
Even KTM’s staunchest fans won’t argue that Honda’s Barreda deserved so, so much better from Dakar 2016 than what he got – a mechanical issue that took him out of contention, for the second year in a row.
Joan Barreda – currently the most talented rider on the Cross-Country Rallies scene – will make his seventh participation in the Dakar Rally in the forthcoming 2017 edition.
X-raid ALL4 Racing Mini-2nd in cars, 2 stages wins
Nasser expected Toyota to be his biggest obstacle on the way to a third Dakar win and he was not right, instead forced to watch as the Peugeots gained minutes on him day after day in week one.
With continuity on his side, there is only one aim for Nasser as he heads back to Argentina: become the first man in Dakar history to win the car race three times in South America.
Yamaha-Quads champion, 3 stage wins
Dakar Rally quad champion Marcos Patronelli a 33-year-old racer from Argentina, born out of the off-road race once surviving a serious accident. He was quite fortunate that Casale exited the rally on Stage 6 and, yes, Baragwanath and Hernandez were frequently on-pace with the vastly more fancied Argentine.
The Patronelli are unlikely to kick off another four-year victory streak – their rivals are getting quicker and quicker. But for now, they are still the best there is and Marcos did an excellent job of driving that point home in the 2016 edition.
Powerstar IVECO-3rd in trucks
Villagra’s achievement on the trucks’ first run in Dakar 2016 proved a microcosm of his entire rally – extremely fast from the get-go, only to lose time in the second half. Not unexpectedly, it was the WRC-style week-1 stages where the Argentine prospered, given his considerable previous experience in, well, the WRC.
For Villagra, this was the first Dakar in a truck and he aced it, he recorded no stage wins, but he did lead the rally after Stage 5 – and managed to hang on to a podium despite the loss of 50 minutes on Stage 10.
What do you think guys?