M-Sport to pursue Dakar ambitions with Neil Woolridge Motorsport

M-Sport is excited to announce its latest motorsport development which is by way of a joint venture with renowned rally raid car manufacturer, Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM).

NWM is a world-renowned Rally Raid manufacturer based in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa and like M-Sport, has a long and storied association with Ford with both M-Sport and NWM celebrating 25 years of collaboration with the iconic blue oval in 2022.

The joint venture sees M-Sport become NWM’s European HQ and global distributor for the NWM Ford Ranger T1+ vehicle.

The partnership sees two iconic independent manufacturers come together with a long-term goal of taking on the world-renowned Dakar Rally while developing a world-class rally raid customer programme.

The Dakar Rally has always been a long-time ambition of M-Sport and NWM and this latest partnership could pave the way for both parties to finally realise their goal and ultimately put together a competitive entry to challenge for victory.

M-Sport’s partnership with NWM allows the two marques to share their technical abilities and resources that have both been built on 25 uninterrupted years of working in direct conjunction with Ford.

While the goal of a Dakar assault is on the horizon, years of work and development lie ahead including developing the right infrastructure. The first steps of M-Sport and NWM’s partnership is for M-Sport to begin a customer support programme based from M-Sport’s HQ in Dovenby, Cumbria. In addition to customer support, M-Sport will collaborate with NWM on the development of the NWM Ford Ranger T1+, through testing and collecting feedback from any customer programmes. The first NWM Ford Ranger T1+ is expected to arrive in Europe at the end of May and will be available for a testing and customer programme shortly afterwards.

Malcolm Wilson OBE, M-Sport Managing Director, said: “Myself and Matthew have recently been out to South Africa to meet Neil Woolridge and his sons and discuss their Ford Ranger T1+. It’s a momentous and exciting prospect for me, after almost 45 years in the rally business, rally raid and Dakar has always piqued my interest. It is a discipline that I do not underestimate though, and I am all too aware it requires years of experience and expertise.

“M-Sport and NWM have a shared vision, we feel that our respective outfits complement each other in a way that would create an unrivalled rally raid outfit. The NWM Ranger has definite potential, it is built on a very solid foundation, Matthew tested the car during our visit and was very positive about his experience. It’s fair to say I’m not one to stray away from a challenge, it’s what I love about motorsport and it’s no secret we have some work to do to contend for the prestigious Dakar Rally. That said, I am confident that M-Sport and NWM have the tools and know-how to push the Ford Ranger T1+ to new heights.”

Matthew Wilson, M-Sport Director and Development Driver, said: “I don’t have any prior experience of driving or operating a T1+ vehicle, but the first impression was really good, which is very significant as we have got a good base to go from. We feel from the collaboration, we will be able to push on the vehicle’s development programme in conjunction with Neil and his team.

“Fundamentally, we are encouraged about the strong basis that the car is built around and it was great for us to get a real feel for what the car is like. It’s the start of a very new era for M-Sport, one which we are excited to learn from and see what our knowledge could bring to the development cycle.”

Neil Woolridge, Neil Woolridge Motorsport Owner, said: “This is a landmark moment for NWM and a proud moment for me personally. I have always admired Malcolm from afar and M-Sport is an outfit I’ve always wanted to collaborate with for a variety of reasons. Our Ranger T1+ is a vehicle we are looking forward to developing and building a strong customer line-up with, which is something M-Sport has demonstrated it can create and strengthen. Our T1+ Ranger is built on the reliable and well-tested foundation of our previous generation Ranger and as such, places our new vehicle on a great starting level of performance in comparison to the competition. Consequently, we can use the South African Rally Raid Championship as a test bed for our vehicle directly against our competitors which gives us the confidence to take our vehicle to the world stage.

“It was great to welcome Malcolm and Matthew to our HQ as well as offering them the opportunity to see the Ranger T1+ in action. Matthew raised some interesting development directions which has already underlined the significance of the expertise we are bringing onboard by partnering with M-Sport.”

Source Neil Woolridge Motorsport

Dakar 2023: American Rally Originals - Taking on the Dakar Rally

We have assembled a Team of Americans to tackle the toughest motorcycle class of the toughest race in the world - the renowned Dakar Rally (previously known as The Paris to Dakar). It is a 15 Day Extreme Rally Navigation Race throughout the landscapes of Saudi Arabia.
After finishing the Dakar Rally in 2020 (Supported with a mechanic and team) Kyle McCoy dug deep into the history of American finishers and realized (from old records and speaking with the organization): No American has ever finished in the “Malle Moto” class of Dakar in its 45 year history.
The “Malle Moto” class (now called “Original by Motul”) takes this race to another level. All racers must do this event with minimal to no support - allowed only one trunk (80 Litre box) of gear. The racers must sleep in tents, maintain and repair their own motorcycles and are allowed no support outside of fellow competitors. “It’s like choosing to run the Iditarod rather than taking a dog sled”, said David Pearson, Team Manager. A Team has been assembled and is being proactive on press and lead up coverage.

Race Team Members include:

  • Kyle McCoy: Finished Dakar (top 10 rookies) in 2020; competitive rally racer at Africa Eco Race, Sonora and Baja Rally. Globally competitive ultra-runner (raced in Antarctica, China, Namibia, Morocco and Chile).
  • Paul Neff: ISDE Gold and Silver Medalist and AA Enduro rider, 2020 Sonora Rally class winner, top trials competitor and co-coach with Jimmy Lewis (Paul owns Cispus Cycles Training in Washington state).
  • David Pearson: Vegas to Reno Ironman class winner; Ironman Baja 1000 Finisher, Sonora and Baja Rally podium finishes; former owner of KTM and Harley-Davidson Dealerships.
  • Jim Pearson: AA Enduro rider, Multiple “A” Class Enduro Championships, Vegas to Reno 500 Ironman, Baja 1000 Ironman, Sonora and Baja Rally podium finishes and the team's most knowledgeable mechanic.
  • Morrison Hart: Previous US Sailing Team member and current rally competitor with numerous podium and top 10 finishes at the Sonora and Baja Rally’s. He is our top navigation and logistics expert

The team will be at the Sonora Rally in March to kick off a year of training, fundraising and promotional events leading up to the Dakar. We need your help and support in making this possible. Any shares, connections, sponsorships or coverage would be welcome

Additional Information: The American Rally Originals : www.americanrallyteam.com. or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmericanRallyOriginals

Team FundRaising: https://www.gofundme.com/f/American-Rally-Originals-Dakar-2023

Dakar 2022: Hino retains proud Dakar reliability record using diesel-electric hybrid powertrain for first time

Hino, the only Japanese truck manufacturer to compete regularly against a field of trucks from Eastern and Western Europe in the gruelling annual Dakar Rally, maintained its proud finishing record in the 44th edition of this amazing race which finished in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on January 14. The record it built on is that at least one Hino truck has finished every one of the 30 Dakar Rallies staged since 1991.

Hino has finished in the top 10 of the truck category 25 times over the years, including finishing 1, 2, 3 overall in 1997.

However, this year Hino Team Sugawara had to be satisfied with 22nd position out of 33 finishers from an original field of 55 starters as the team dealt with a number of mechanical and electrical challenges as well as navigation problems. This resulted in a penalty of 22 hr. 30 min. which knocked the team back from a potential 16th position.

Teruhito Sugawara, the lead driver and team principal, was once again at the helm of the Hino and 2022 marked only the third time in 18 years as a driver that this talented Japanese wheelman has been out of the top 15 in overall classification. Teruhito navigated for his father the legendary Yoshimasa prior to becoming a team driver and has now taken part in 23 Dakar Rallies, finishing on each occasion.

Teruhito Sugawara had the same two team members with him this year as in 2021, consisting of navigator Hirokazu Somemiya and riding mechanic Yuji Mochizuki.

This year’s Dakar attracted a total field of 430 vehicles who competed over a route of 8 375 km between 1-15 January.

As in 2021 Hino downsized its Dakar team to just one truck due to the budget implications of the global covid pandemic. Adding to the challenge in 2022 was the fact that Hino’s Dakar racing truck for the first time featured a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain capable of producing more than 1 000 horsepower (794 kW). The 9-litre turbocharged diesel engine contributed 588 kW to the power output while the hybrid capacitor electric propulsion system added a further 206 kW.

The racing truck was based on the the unique, bonneted 600 Series model sold only in the United States. However, under this skin this four-wheel drive model is like the 500 Series Hino range sold in South Africa.

This year’s truck field of 55 trucks was one of the biggest in recent years and was made up of entries from 12 brands. The start/finish record of the various brands was: Kamaz – four finishers from four entries; Iveco – 12/17; MAN – 6/17; DAF 3/4; Tatra – 3/4; Scania – 1/3; Renault – 2/3; MAZ – 0/3; Mercedes-Benz – 0/2; Hino – 1/1; Praga – 1/1; and Ford Cargo 0/2.

“The 2022 Dakar Rally was very tough for the Hino Sugawara team, but we learned a great deal about operating a hybrid truck under these demanding conditions which will be of value in preparing our future entries for this event, as well as benefiting our customers in the long-term,” concluded Team Principal Teruhito Sugawara.

Source Hino Trucks

Baja Russia 2022: "Four in one" or why it is worth visiting IGORA DRIVE in February

The Baja Russia Northern Forest – one of the country’s main international motorsport events takes place in the Leningrad Region on February 10, 2022. The only cross-country rally in the world that is held on snow and ice surface will traditionally be included in the calendar of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas. But this is not the only series, the competitors of which will be hosted by the Russian event this year; there are four of them.

The first round of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, the first round of the FIA Eurasia Zone Cross-Country Rally Cup, the first round of the Russian Cross-Country Championship, the rally for regularity – all these competitions will be held as part of the Baja Russia Northern Forest. Both professional racers and amateurs will be able to take part in them, as well as the owners of ordinary passenger cars.

The main feature and main difference between the Baja Russia Northern Forest and other rounds of the World and Eurasia Zone Cups, as well as the Russian Championship rounds, are the temperature and road conditions: no other cross-country rally on the planet is held with air temperatures from -10 to -30 °C. At the same time, competitors drive on forest winter roads covered with snow and ice, using tires studded with a sports spikes up to one and a half centimeters long.

This year the Northern Forest event will be held for the 18th time. It was first organized in 2003 and was held simultaneously as a round of the Russian Cup and Championship in the Leningrad Region near the settlements of Priozersk and Sosnovo. The organizers of the first Northern Forest in the history were Ruslan Misikov, the racing car driver and a multiple champion of Russia, and Igor Kan, the president of the St. Petersburg Off-Road and 4x4 Motorsport Federation. Then the race has gradually changed, raising its status.

The first foreign competitors – from France and Italy – came to the Russian race in 2005. Since then, over the past fifteen years, the world’s leading racers have come to the start of the Russian event: Nasser Al-Attiyah, Yazeed Al-Rajhi, Yasir Seaidan, Jouni Matti Ampuja, Tapio Suominen, Eric van Loon, Reinaldo Varela, Marek Dąbrowski, Miroslav Zapletal, Maris Neikšans and many others. Of course, the leaders of Russian cross-country rallies also participated in the Baja Russia Northern Forest: Vladimir Vasilyev, Andrey Zhigunov, Sergey Savenko, Evgeny Firsov, Andrey Novikov, Anton Melnikov, Alexander Terentyev, Artem Varentsov, Andrey Rudskoy, Viktor Khoroshavtsev, Anastasia Nifontova, Maria Oparina, Evgeny Sukhovenko, Alexey Ignatov – this list is endless.

It is also impossible to list all the countries from where the racers came to the Northern Forest event, there are too many of them: Russia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, France, Poland, Latvia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belarus, Finland, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, the Netherlands and so on .

In 2008 the Baja Russia Northern Forest was first held as a candidate for the FIA ​​International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas, and a year later the race received the status of the second round of this prestigious world series. In 2013 the event was held as a candidate for inclusion in the FIA ​​World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies calendar, and since 2014 it has the status of the FIA World Cup round that Russia then accepted for the first time in the last ten years. A year later the Baja Russia Northern Forest moved in and was held along the roads of the Sortavala and Suoyarvi regions of the Republic of Karelia.

Karelia hosted the event competitors until 2019; in 2020 the Baja Russia Northern Forest returned to the Leningrad Region and since then has been held at the Igora Drive sports and entertainment complex, the general partner of the race.

Igora Drive is a unique place – it is the largest motorsport complex in the Russian Federation. There are ten tracks on its territory that meet all international requirements. Competitions in a wide variety of motorsports can be held here: circle car and motorcycle racing, enduro, drift, autocross and rallycross, motocross and supermoto, karting and cross-country rallies.

The Igora Drive complex capabilities make it possible to place the entire infrastructure of the Baja Russia Northern Forest here. The rally Headquarters, Service Park, Parc Fermé, Press Center will be located at Igora Drive. In addition, spectator special stages will be laid on the territory of the motorsport complex, as well as in its immediate vicinity. Thus, on February 12, the audience will be able to watch the struggle of the Baja Russia Northern Forest competitors in comfortable conditions.

The snow and ice Baja Russia Northern Forest will be held from 10 to 13 February.

Source Baja Russia

Dakar 2022: Second Dakar victory for Toyota Gazoo Racing as Al-Attiyah/Baumel triumph in Saudi Arabia

Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-drive Mathieu Baumel recorded their second Dakar victory for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing, when they won the 2022 Dakar Rally, which took place in Saudi Arabia early in January. The pair dominated the event, winning the prologue on January 1st, as well as the tough opening stage near the city of Ha’il. They also powered their Toyota Hilux to victory in Stage 4, but controlled their pace through the remainder of the event, to bring the car home safely in first place, with a winning margin of 27min 46sec.

Winning the prologue allowed Al-Attiyah/Baumel to choose their starting position for the first stage, and they selected the 10th position on the road. This gave them the optimal position from which to attack: A three-minute dust gap to the car ahead of them; but plenty of tracks to follow, making navigation easier. This paid off handsomely as many of the top crews faltered in the opening stage. The TGR crew managed to pick their way through the tricky terrain without any problems, securing the opening stage win by 12min 44sec over the BRX Hunter of Sebastien Loeb.

The battle with Loeb raged on throughout the race, even though mechanical difficulties for the BRX driver saw the Toyota crew’s lead increase to over 30min – a buffer they never relinquished by driving at a calculated, strategic pace throughout the remainder of the rally.

This year’s race officially started in Ha’il, though the prologue took place mid-way between the city of Jeddah and Ha’il. The terrain for the first week of the rally was monotonous and predictable, without significant landscapes to cross – dunes, sandy tracks and rocky trials were at the order of each day. This changed, however, as the rally reached its second week, after the Rest Day on January 8th, in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. From there, the terrain became steadily more mountainous, with rocky outcroppings and tricky canyons to traverse. The final stage was set between the cities of Bisha and Jeddah, bringing the Dakar caravan back to the its starting point – 4,261 competitive kilometres and 12 stages later. 

Al-Attiyah/Baumel’s victory came with the new GR DKR Hilux T1+, an evolution of the team’s former specification Hilux, featuring bigger wheels and tyres; more suspension travel; and an all-new engine. The new power plant was sourced from the Toyota Land Cruiser 300 GR Sport, and the 3.5 litre twin-turbo charged V6 proved extremely reliable from the start.

This engine’s standard power and torque outputs fall within the prescribed maximums as mandated by the FIA, and as such the team was able to utilise the engine in its production form, with the engine management control integrated with the car’s electrics. The team also developed the intercooler system for the engine in-house, using parts from the Toyota family, in order to meet the demands of the Dakar Rally. This meant that, while the engine was pushed to its limits, it remained reliable throughout the race.


The same car secured a 5th place in the overall standings for South Africa’s Dakar stalwart, Giniel de Villiers and co-driver Dennis Murphy. Taking part in his 19th Dakar Rally, the Stellenbosch local set highly competitive stage times throughout the rally, except for Stage 7, when a broken oil pipe cost the crew 1hr, and necessitated the help of teammates Henk Lategan and Brett Cummings, who assisted with mid-stage repairs.

Despite the hour’s time loss, the South Africans pushed on, winning Stage 9 outright, on their way to a Top 5 position. Had they not lost the time on Stage 7, a third place overall was a certainty, and a second place may just have been on the cards. But the Dakar, as is often said, is the Dakar – it bites often, and it bites hard.


This was also true for Lategan/Cummings, taking part in their second Dakar Rally together. The three-time South African Cross-Country (SACCS) champions first took on the Dakar in 2021, when a crash on Stage 5 brought a halt to their race. Up until that point, they had shown a lot of pace and promise, but it would be a year before they got a second chance to show their true potential.

The pair were immediately fast, but a puncture in Stage 1 saw them change the wheel – only for the wheel studs to sheer off roughly 100km later, possibly to some sand residue on the inside of the wheel rim. This cost them more than 3hr, dropping them down to 55th in the overall rankings. But the pair fought back despite the setback, and steadily climbed up the leader board. But more than that, they won two stages outright, including the final dash to Jeddah. Lategan is one of the youngest ever stage winners in the car category at Dakar, and at 27 years of age, he most likely has many more stage wins in his future.

Their final ranking of 31st is not an accurate reflection of their pace, and a broken wheel hub in Stage 4 that cost them an additional 5hr, certainly did not help. Even so, the names of Lategan and Cummings have been etched into Dakar history, thanks to two stage wins.


Despite a rocky start, where bad luck and early nerves conspired against Shameer Variawa and Danie Stassen, the pair brought their Toyota Hilux to the finish in 15th position overall. This is a marked improvement from Variawa’s previous finish, in 2021, where he ended the race in 20th position.

Their best stage came after the Rest Day in Jeddah, as they posted the 7th-fastest time on Stage 7 of the 12-stage rally. This was followed by more Top 20 performances, allowing them to move into 14th place overall by Stage 8. They maintained this position until the final stage, when they lost one spot in the overall standings.

As with the other crews, Variawa/Stassen reported no serious mechanical problems with the Toyota Hilux. The minor issues encountered, however, put them off their rhythm early on. But tenacity and a fighting spirit saw them not only completing the event, but doing so in fine style.

There can be no doubt that Dakar 2022 was a successful campaign for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. Adding a second overall victory brought the team unbridled joy, but it also gave Team Principal Glyn Hall a moment to reflect on the past:

“What an epic victory for Nasser and Mathieu, and the entire team. To come to Dakar and win with our new GR DKR Hilux T1+ first time out is amazing. I’d like to dedicate this win to the memory of Dr. Johan van Zyl, who was a visionary leader and consistent supporter of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Dakar project over many years. We are extremely proud of what we achieved here this year, and I know the Doc would have been too.”


1. Al-Attiyah (QAT) / Baumel (AND)      TOYOTA GAZOO Racing    38hr 33min 3sec

2. Loeb (FRA) / Lurquin (BEL)                Bahrain Raid Xtreme    +27min 46sec

3. Al Rajhi (SAU) / Orr (GBR)                 Overdrive Toyota    +1hr 1min 13sec

4. Terranova (ARG) / Carreras (ESP)      Bahrain Raid Xtreme    +1hr 27min 23sec

5. De Villiers (ZAF) / Murphy (ZAF)       TOYOTA GAZOO Racing    +1hr 41min 48sec

15. Variawa (ZAF) / Stassen (ZAF)        TOYOTA GAZOO Racing    +3hr 55min 33sec

31. Lategan (ZAF) / Cummings (ZAF)   TOYOTA GAZOO Racing    +11hr 51min 21sec


Source Toyota Gazoo Racing SA

Dakar 2022: Mission accomplished for all the four Xtremeplus crews


The CST Polaris Xtremeplus team, best of the Italians in the stage: P10 for Michele Cinotto, and P18 of the overall for his son Pietro
Mission accomplished for all the four crews that arrived in Jeddah, with Umeda being the first Japanese to finish the rally in Side by Side.

It takes a team to finish the Dakar Rally and Marco Piana and the Xtremeplus team is proud to have all the four crews at the end of the hardest rally in the world.

The skills of the drivers and navigators of the four crews together with the experience, the professionalism and the human touch of the Xtremeplus team made this adventure possible.

“The Dakar Rally is a race, but also a dream and we are here to share this human adventure. Xtremeplus is more than a team. It’s a family”, says the team owner Marco Piana. So, it is not a surprise that at the start of the 44th edition of the Dakar there were two families.

The experienced Italian duo of Michele Cinotto and Maurizio Dominella – CST Polaris Xtremeplus that can boast 37 Dakar participations among the two, and Michele’s son Pietro teaming up with Alberto Bertoldi, a former Dakar biker. For the second CST Polaris Xtremeplus at the start a total number of 6 participations.
In the race among the race, today Cinotto sr finished ahead with a superb P10 at the end of 12th special stage, that was not easy at all. Cinotto jr followed with a well deserved 11th place that allowed him to finish in P18 of the overall.

“We are really satisfied of our result today and the position of the overall, that makes us the best Italian crew in the category”, said Pietro. “We had a good start and if it was not for the mechanical issue we had on ss5, we could have had a result that reflects more out potential”, said Michele, 10th today and in P43 of the overall.

It was mission accomplished also for the Jean Claude and Jerome Pla. Today they had a difficult day (P44) that doesn’t reflect their performance. Thanks to their consistency, in fact, father and son are 29th in the overall in their first Dakar.

“I’m really happy. This is a dream come true. My personal goal was to finish the Dakar and we made it. I want to that the Xtremeplus team and my navigator David Giovannetti”, said Shinsuke Umeda - Motul Polaris Xtremeplus, P32 in the stage and 33rd in the overall in his debut year.

Umeda did not only did a great job but he is the first Japanese to have finished a Dakar on a SSV.


Source Xtremeplus

Dakar 2022: Sunderland and Al-Attiyah rule the roost

After leaving the shores of the Red Sea on 1 January, the drivers, riders and crews of the 2022 Dakar made it back to Jeddah with 8 000 kilometres under their belts. 104 car crews (46 T1s, 2 T2s, 22 T3s, 34 T4s), 109 bikers, 6 quad riders and 20 truckers were eligible for the final standings of the 44th edition.
In the motorbike race, Sam Sunderland snapped up his second title, following his first in 2017, and took GasGas to the top of the podium, while Nasser Al-Attiyah added a fourth Bedouin trophy to his tally to go with those that he conquered in South America in 2011, 2015 and 2019.
Victory in the lightweight prototype category went to South Racing's Chilean driver, Francisco López, while the Seth Quintero whirlwind took the rally by storm, claiming 12 specials in his OT3-Red Bull at the young age of 19. In the SSV competition, favourite Austin Jones lived up to expectations despite a last-minute scare. In contrast, it was a smooth ride for the Kamaz truckers, starting with Dmitry Sotnikov, who defended his crown after leading the general standings from A to Z.
The duels in the Saudi deserts and on their tracks also awarded the first points towards the 2022 season of the FIA and FIM World Rally-Raid Championships. Next up is the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, scheduled for 5 to 10 March (see dedicated W2RC press release).

Cars: Al-Attiyah king of the desert

Being the big favourite is a coveted position, but not necessarily a comfortable one. Nasser Al-Attiyah has cracked under the pressure several times before, but this year he and his co-driver Mathieu Baumel put in a masterful performance. The Qatari was eager to seize the lead from the get-go and took the two specials (1A and 1B) that made up the opening stage. Meanwhile, the Audis were already on the back foot, first when Sainz made a catastrophic navigation blunder and then, the next day, when Peterhansel lost one of his rear wheels and had to accept an extremely heavy penalty in order to continue his Dakar adventure. Against this backdrop, the fight for top honours soon came down to a duel between Sébastien Loeb and Al-Attiyah, but the Frenchman faltered in stage 3, when he suffered a broken drive shaft, resulting in a 50-minute deficit by the time the rest day came around. Firmly in command, the man who earned the nickname of "Prince of the Desert" in South America became a king by claiming his fourth Dakar title in the Middle East, next door to his home country, to go with his victories from 2011, 2015 and 2019. Loeb can find solace in the stellar performance of his BRX Hunter, but like in 2017, when he came up short in his duel with "Peter", he ended up in second place… his least favourite! Yazeed Al-Rajhi inserted himself in the Franco-Qatari battle several times and proved that he is a force to be reckoned with on home turf, claiming his highest finish so far and climbing on the final podium for the first time (third at 1 h 01′13″).

Behind the top 3 that everyone yearns for, Prodrive can be pleased to have Orlando Terranova's Hunter in fourth place, the best result of his career in a car after fourteen starts. In contrast, the Mini X-raid buggy seems to have been left in the dust by the new generation of T1+ cars, with Jakub Przygoński slipping down two places to sixth. Giniel De Villiers came in fifth to claim his eighteenth top 10 finish. Also in the top 10 was Mathieu Serradori in his Century (ninth). Mattias Ekström's tenth place overall (see Stat of the day) capped Audi's impressive performance over the last fortnight.

sam sunderland 16 1 w

Motorbikes: Sunderland in Wonderland

To say that the motorbike category was the closest-run race of the 44th Dakar would be an understatement. The 3′27″ between Sam Sunderland and Pablo Quintanilla in Jeddah were the slimmest margin at the top of the leader board since 1994, when Orioli finished 1′13″ ahead of Arcarons! The Englishman went back to his winning ways after a drought stretching back to 2017. Sunderland's star had seemed to be on the wane. When he did not withdraw from the race, he had to settle for third the following year. To break this vicious cycle, the Englishman first stayed in the shadow of his flamboyant teammate, Daniel Sanders. However, "Chucky", the man of the first week, was sent home by a stupid crash while exiting the bivouac in Riyadh in the wee hours. Sam already held the overall lead, which he defended for four days without winning any specials. Meanwhile, three other former champions embarked on an impossible mission after flopping in the opening stages: it was 2021 all over again for Price and Brabec, joined by the defending champion, Kevin Benavides, this time round. Only Matthias Walkner, also a previous winner, and Adrien Van Beveren were able to match Sunderland blow for blow. The official GasGas biker delivered the coup de grâce with a win in stage 8. The same old trick once again allowed him to approach the remaining stages with caution and hatch a plan for stage 10. Sunderland and Walkner held back so that they could chase the new leader, Van Beveren, clad in Yamaha blue, in the following special. Pablo Quintanilla also pounced on the opportunity to finish second, matching his 2020 performance.

Young brands such as Sherco and Hero also had their moment in the sun. Ensconced in the top 5 for almost the entire first week, Santolino and his Sherco expected to feature in the fight for glory before the tables turned. Hero and Joaquim Rodrigues bagged their maiden win in stage 3, with a special thought for Paolo Gonçalves. Red once again fluttered in the breeze of the aptly named sea, but it was no longer Honda's. GasGas avenged the insult to KTM and became the sixth constructor to take the Dakar.

In the Rally2 category for non-professional bikers, 20-year-old Mason Klein was a cut above the rest, finishing ahead of Camille Chapelière and picking up a stage podium along the way. The Frenchman, nineteenth overall, came in three places higher than in his debut. Romain Dumontier, precisely in twenty-second place, rounded out the Rally2 podium.

In the Original by Motul category for bikers without assistance, the 2022 podium was almost the same as last year's. Lithuanian Arūnas Gelažninkas retained the title, while the battle-hardened Czech Milan Engel was runner-up and Frenchman Benjamin Melot defended his third place.

giroud 16 1 w

Quads: Giroud in the name of the father

Alexandre Giroud emerged victorious from a classic Dakar war of attrition. Near the start, he watched on as the flashy performances of other riders turned out to be a flash in the pan. Lithuania's Kancius, Russia's Maksimov and even the defending champion, Manuel Andújar, all learned the hard way that haste makes waste. Pablo Copetti, on the other hand, grasped that the Dakar is an endurance race. The Argentinian-American and Giroud locked horns in the second week as Copetti launched assault after assault on the Frenchman's lead. In the end, it was Copetti who bent the knee after a broken engine in stage 10 put paid to his chances. Giroud now had a clear path to Jeddah Corniche, where he wanted to pay tribute to his father, Daniel, who became the first quad rider to finish the Dakar back in 1997. Racing in a league of his own for much of the rally, Giroud Jr. dominated the standings by 2 h 21 over his Drag'On stablemate, the Spaniard Francisco Moreno.

Lightweight prototypes: "Chaleco" cruises to double

By switching to this category after winning the T4 race in 2021, Francisco "Chaleco" López set himself up for a confrontation with the OT3-Red Bull armada, which had already claimed the lion's share of the specials last year without making an impact on the general standings. However, a barrage of mechanicals soon plagued the American team, knocking Cristina Gutiérrez, Guillaume De Mevius and Seth Quintero out of contention and leaving the field clear for South Racing, with their solid Chilean captain at the helm. López reached the rest day with 25 minutes in hand over his young brother in arms, Sebastian Eriksson, and, more importantly, 2 h 23 over the Spaniard. "Chaleco" had no incentive to risk it all chasing stage wins, unlike the vivacious Quintero. No longer in the mix for the title after spending almost an entire night in stage 2, the nigh-unbeatable 19-year-old finally achieved a high degree of consistency at the highest level. With 12 victories in 13 specials, the Quintero Show was a real hit. Dakar historians and data wonks will be comparing his feat to Pierre Lartigue's 11 stage wins in 1994 (counting all car categories) in a lively debate. Here's looking at you, kid!

SSVS: quiet aplomb carries the day for Jones

The proverb "slow and steady wins the race" sums up the SSV race to perfection. The Polish posse won no fewer than nine out of the thirteen specials up for grabs (including 1B). Marek Goczał was the most prolific stage hunter, with six to his name, followed by his brother Michał with two and Aron Domżała with one. Yet not a single one of them will be standing on the final podium. Endurance races like the Dakar require a high level of consistency and learning to walk before you run. The Polish armada ignored this rule at their own peril and paid the price in the shape of subdued performances and mechanical woes. Austin Jones, on the other hand, flew under the radar. The American seemed on the cusp of victory several times but never quite got there, although he did finish on the podium when he needed to turn the tables on opponents such as rookie Rodrigo Luppi de Oliveira. The Brazilian topped the overall before running into mechanical trouble, the same fate that would befall Gerard Farrés, Jones's teammate at South Racing, in the last special. Although the Spaniard started the stage in command, an electrical problem cost him just enough time for Jones to take the crown by two minutes. Farrés had to settle for second place ahead of a promising rookie, Rokas Baciuška. In the same vein as Jones, the Lithuanian made little noise before bursting onto the scene with a win in stage 10 and another one in the closing special two days later. His consistency propelled him to the third step of the podium in his very first Dakar start.

kamaz 16 1 w

Trucks: Kamaz… again

The Russian truckers have never shied away from their status as favourites. They have racked up eighteen victories with six different drivers since the dawn of the 21st century, only bending the knee to Karel Loprais in 2001, Hans Stacey in 2007 and Gerard de Rooy in 2012 and 2016, and extended their hegemony in Saudi Arabia this year. Each of the four men at the wheels of the blue trucks has claimed at least one stage, leaving nothing for the competition. Reigning champion Dmitry Sotnikov defended his title and led a Kamaz 1-2-3-4. He won the rally with 9′58″ to spare over his teammate and four-time Dakar champion Eduard Nikolaev, who took his eighth podium spot in ten starts as a driver. Kamaz had already locked up the top 4 in 2011. Further back, Janus van Kasteren was the best of the rest in fifth place… over an hour behind the last Kamaz.


Source Dakar/ASO
Eric Vargiolu / DPPI

Dakar 2022: VIDEO - Extended highlights of the day presented by Gaussin - Stage 12

Source: Dakar/ASO
Published on Rally-Raid Network via Dailymotion


Dakar 2022: Mário Patrão in 1st place in the Veterans Dakar

Note: Automatic translation

Portuguese rider climbed the podium in four stages and was 6th in the OBM

Mário Patrão, current National Rally Raid and European Bajas Champion concluded today, with the arrival in Jeddah, and in an exemplary way, his eighth participation in the Dakar Rally, this time, with victory among pilots with 45 years or more, and finally fulfilling the dream long planned, in the class that represents the purest and most extreme side of the race queen of the TT world, the Original Class by Motul in which he averaged the 6th place.

The pilot supported by CRÉDITO AGRÍCOLA who has 27 titles of Portuguese champion in various disciplines and categories and several international gold medals, managed in this edition of the Dakar Rally to climb to the podium of the Original Class by Motul in four stages, three of which consecutive and complete the 14 days of the purest competition occupying a place in the top positions of the class commonly known as 'malle moto', always requiring good management between time, mechanical and performance of the pilot and in which it is not possible to count on any outside assistance from any source.

Mário Patrão, who is also sponsored by LUSÍADAS SAÚDE is also an experienced mechanic and proved to be in good physical shape by overcoming with tenacity and determination the adversities registered in the first stage - where there were some navigation problems - and in the seventh special - where a fall conditioned the pilot's performance. It was in the fifth round that he entered the TOP 10 of the general classification of the Original by Motul and didn't let go until the end.

"I'm super happy! I realized the long-delayed dream of participating in the Original by Motul category. I wanted to push myself to the limit and prove that no matter what injuries/adversities, my persistence, drive, and will are here! It was hard, but rewarding. I honored my sponsors, my country, and my fans. There were months of preparation, abdications, which were only possible because I have a super stable professional structure and family environment. I am the fruit of my sponsors' investment, and I dedicate this medal to them. It's time to go back, because I already miss home a lot. THANK YOU!", says Mário Patrão about his performance in this 44th edition of the Dakar Rally, which was held for the third consecutive year in Saudi Arabia. It was 8,177 kilometers, 4,258 km long, divided in a prologue and twelve stages.

It should be noted that Mário Patrão, supported by BAHCO, was absent in the previous edition of the Dakar Rally due to a fracture in his femur, which he contracted a little more than three weeks before the start of the main competition of the TT. The driver sponsored by SEIA Municipality was absent from competitions for several months, only returning in May, still in time to win the European Bajas Championship, revalidate the National Rally Raid Champion title and also win the Tunisia Desert Challenge.

Source Mario Patrão official press release
Automatic translation from the original Portuguese version, available on www.todoterreno.pt

Dakar 2022: Rui Gonçalves ends his second Dakar with a remarkable performance

Note: Automatic translation

The second Dakar in Rui Gonçalves' career proved the natural aptitude of the driver in navigation competitions, with the driver from Vidago concluding the 8.375 km of race, of which 4.258 km were intensely chronometer driven, in a total of 42h00m.

In Rui Gonçalves' second participation in the race in Saudi Arabia, the Portuguese driver managed to get on the podium in the 3rd stage, concluding another stage in the "top ten", showing his driving skills in sandy surfaces and a greater experience in terms of navigation.

Rui Gonçalves: "Yesterday we had a short stage ahead of us and I knew it was important to attack from the start. I managed to be fast throughout the 163km and concluded this last stage with a 12th place.
It was a very positive Dakar as far as my performance is concerned, I learned a lot by riding with fast and experienced pilots and I think I was at my best level in this "new" modality for me, achieving remarkable results in some stages.
I was very satisfied with my evolution, but I am aware that there are always things to improve. Unfortunately, the overall classification was conditioned by some technical problems, but I'm still very happy to have reached the end with no major crashes.
Finally I would like to thank all my Sherco Racing Factory team for the work done over these two weeks as well as all the support given by you guys who are always on my side, family, friends and girlfriend. It was undoubtedly very important for me and crucial to get to the end of this Dakar Rally that sometimes challenged me a lot by putting me in extreme situations that, fortunately, I managed to overcome.
Thank you all, we are always together!"

Source: Rui Gonçalves official press release
Photo Rally Zone
Automatic translation from the original Portuguese version, available on www.todoterreno.pt

Dakar 2022: António Maio with fantastic performance at the Dakar

Note: Automatic translation

Yamaha rider finishes 21st overall

António Maio successfully concluded his participation in the 44th Dakar Rally, thus fulfilling his main goal which was to finish this long and difficult off-road marathon for the second time. The Yamaha pilot had an excellent race, having qualified 21st overall in an extremely competitive Dakar, full of excellent pilots, very hard and demanding, and where all the pilots who finished ahead of him are professionals.

"We are in Jeddah where the podium of Dakar 2022 is. The special went well, but it was very dangerous. So I chose not to risk it because I had more to lose than to gain. We managed to fulfill our goal, which was to finish the race, and now we're going to get the podium we deserve. The bike is impeccable and it was an excellent race. I thank all the sponsors who made this dream possible. I also want to leave a big hug to my family and friends who helped me so much to conquer this goal", said António Maio in Jeddah at the end of the 12th stage, between Bisha and Jeddah, where the Yamaha driver reached the 19th place in the 163 km long section of the last day of the Dakar Rally 2002.

The Portuguese rider now returns to Portugal to prepare his remaining 2022 sports season, which starts in February, in Portugal with Baja TT Montes Alentejanos.

Source Official press release
Automatic translation from the original Portuguese version, available on www.todoterreno.pt

Dakar 2022: Team de Rooy with "Four in a row" to the podium

With four drivers in the top ten, Team De Rooy Iveco has very successfully closed the book on the Dakar Rally 2022.

A fifth place for Janus van Kasteren, the best behind four unapproachable Kamaz drivers. A sixth place for Martin van den Brink, who achieved his best result ever. An eighth place for Vick Versteijnen, who fulfilled his role as a substitute excellently. And last but not least a tenth place for Mitchel van den Brink. A fast assistant in the top ten, that can be called sensational.

After the twelfth and final stage, there were therefore only positive sounds from Team De Rooy Iveco's camp. The last special on the way to Jeddah didn't cause many shifts in the standings. Vick Versteijnen was one of the few who had to concede a place in the last kilometers. Seventh place was in the hands of Martin Macik. The Czech drove 'the test of his life' and took seventh place with a difference of 23 seconds from Vick Versteijnen, Teun van Dal and Randy Smits. "Yes, that's how it can go in the Dakar Rally," said a realistic Versteijnen. "No, I'm certainly not disappointed."
On the final day, Vick did not spare the Iveco Powerstar. “We really gave everything. It was a quick test. On the sandy paths, you had to watch out for the boulders along the route. We just drove hard. Also on the narrow parts with trees. We also shattered the windshield. Yes, we gave it our all and are just 23 seconds short of Macik. Nevertheless, we are very satisfied. We had definitely signed up for this beforehand. I started untrained and unprepared. Had never driven the new truck. Also for Randy it was the first time in the truck competition. Like Teun, he did a great job. It was alright in the cabin. I look back with satisfaction. We had a cool rally with a good team, De Rooy," said Vick, who finished the rally in sixth place and was therefore the fastest Dutchman.

Martin van den Brink seemed to be the fastest man of Team De Rooy. “It went well. We still gave good gas.” However, after a time penalty of two minutes, the formation in the orange colors saw the sixth place change into a ninth ranking. "We got a two-minute penalty for speeding. Yes, I drove too fast in an area where that is not allowed.” The experienced driver from Harskamp showed his speed and motivation in the 164 kilometer test. "It was nice to finish the rally as good as possible."

Martin, Peter Willemsen and Bernard der Kinderen are happy to say goodbye to the event in Saudi Arabia. "I am happy with the results of the day and with what we have learned about the truck. Sixth place is my best place in the standings. So yes, I am very satisfied," said Martin, who has completed his fourteenth Dakar Rally. "In addition, I am of course very proud of the achievements of Mitchel, Richard and Bert," says the enthusiastic 'Dakarist' about the performance of his son, driving the fast assistance truck.

Mitchel van den Brink put the icing on our cake today. A tenth place, in both the last special and in the general classification resulted in sincere congratulations to the 20-year-old Harskamper. "It went pretty tough today. We pushed to the very limit and hit a few twigs and bushes here and there, so the truck did not arrive at the finish unscathed. We have broken a windscreen and made some dents here and there" said a smiling Mitchel, who made an excellent performance as a quick assistant in Petronas Team De Rooy Iveco.

The tenth position in the final standings is beyond all expectations and gives hope for the sporting future. "We are very happy with a tenth position overall. Everyone from team de Rooy was waiting for us at the finish. That was a really nice reception with many celebrations. We are now going to wash the truck and go to the podium with a satisfied feeling. I look back on this edition with fond memories. After a few minor problems in the first week, the following week went great, we adapted very well to the ever changing situations. The collaboration with Richard Mouw and Bert van Donkelaar was perfect. I look forward to working with them in the future some more.”

Janus van Kasteren, Marcel Snijders and Darek Rodewald cherished their fifth place in the standings today, right behind defending champion Sotnikov and his loyal lieutenants Nikolaev, Shibalov and Karginov. Without bad luck in the Russian camp, Petronas Team de Rooy Iveco was unable to make any progress in overtaking them. The 35-year-old driver from Veldhoven didn't have much to gain and played an important role in today's team tactics. Van Kasteren started just ahead of teammate Vick Versteijnen and cleared the way to give Vick free space and to make it less affected by the dust. "After the start, we quickly moved to the side. We left Vick ahead of us and waited for the dust to settle a bit, but Loprais arrived by then too and created a lot of dust. Then we brought the truck home in one piece and completed this stage calmly. All three of us are really happy with fifth place. As mentioned earlier; there's nothing more to it at the moment. We are happy as can be"

However, the driven Van Kasteren does not simply resign himself to an ol on the second plan. The future is already calling for attention in his head. "We are going to celebrate this result first, but I am already thinking about next year. I'm going to try to drive a little more and we know what needs to be done to improve the trucks," said Janus, indicating that the Dakar is not yet finished with the "Big Boss from Brabant."

The men of Team De Rooy are on the podium in Jeddah during this afternoon to receive their honorable medals. The rally team will return to the Netherlands from Saudi Arabia tomorrow.


Source Team de Rooy

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