Dakar 2022: Two MINI desert racers in the top ten
Przygonski ends the Dakar in sixth place overall
Halpern finishes eighth, Zala tenth
Twelve legs have been overcome, and the 2022 Dakar is done and dusted: After more than 4,000 kilometres of special stage, Jakub “Kuba” Przygonski (POL) and Timo Gottschalk (GER) finished sixth overall in the MINI JCW Buggy, making them the best-placed crew in a rear-wheel drive vehicle. Argentineans Sebastian Halpern and Bernardo “Ronnie” Graue ended the Dakar in a fine eighth place in their MINI JCW Buggy. Vaidotas Zala (LTU) and Paulo Fiuza (POR), driving a MINI JCW Rally, narrowly missed out on the top 10 with eleventh place!
Making her debut in the Car class, Laia Sanz (ESP) and her Italian co-driver Maurizio Gerini finished 22nd overall in a MINI ALL4 Racing. Denis Krotov and Konstantin Zhiltsov were 27th in another MINI JCW Buggy.
Przygonski and Gottschalk lined up in a two-wheel drive car for the first time at this year’s Dakar. The MINI JCW Buggy duo established itself in the top ten from the word go. Przygonski did climb as high as fourth place at one point, but this Dakar was better suited to the 4x4 vehicles. As such, he had to settle for sixth place after twelve legs.
Kuba Przygonski: “We are pleased to have made it to the finish again at this Dakar. That is always the first objective. This Dakar was not easy and was hard fought.”
Halpern, who was a permanent fixture in the top ten from day one, also produced an impressive performance in his MINI JCW Buggy. This was the Argentinean’s first Dakar with X-raid in a rear-wheel drive vehicle.
Sebastian Halpern: “I am very happy with this Dakar. I am pleased that we finished in the top ten. Especially when you look at the big names around us. The MINI JCW Buggy was good and the team did a great job. This Dakar was a real test: Rocks, soft dunes and difficult navigation. Ronnie did a very good job. I am happy.”
After eleven Dakar appearances on a motorcycle, Sanz switched to the Car class this year. Together with her co-driver Gerini, she faced the new challenge in the MINI ALL4 Racing. A few issues aside, she performed consistently and improved dramatically as the Dakar progressed. She had previously managed to complete every Dakar on a motorcycle, and continued this run in the Car class.
Laia Sanz: “That was a completely new experience for me. Taking on the Dakar on a bike is much more dangerous. It is also fun in a car, and you get to share your emotions with somebody else. Up until now, I have been used to being alone. However, that also means that you have to trust your co-driver with the Navigation. My primary objective was to finish this Dakar too. I am happy with my result, but am also very competitive and would obviously have liked to have been faster. However, I learned a lot and will go on the offensive again next year.”
Krotov arrived in Saudi Arabia with high expectations after his third place in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies. The first few days went well for the MINI JCW Buggy driver. However, shortly after the start of leg six, he suffered a technical issue and not only lost a lot of time but also his position in the top 20. On the remaining days, he showed what might have been possible without that incident.
Denis Krotov: “To be honest, this Dakar did not play out as we had imagined. We had a good car, but a technical issue completely knocked us out of the battle at the front of the field. On the individual stages, we showed what we are capable of.”
Overall standings after SS12
1. N. Al-Attiyah / M. Baumel – Toyota – 38h 33m 03s
2. S. Loeb / F. Lurquin – BRX – 39h 00m 49s
3. Y. Al-Rajhi / M. Orr – Toyota – 39h 34m 16s
4. O. Terranova / D. Oliveras – BRX – 40h 00m 26s
5. G. De Villiers / D. Murphy – Toyota – 40h 14m 51s
6. J. Przygonski / T. Gottschalk – MINI JCW Buggy – 40h 26m 09s
8. S. Halpern / B. Graue – MINI JCW Buggy – 41h 11m 29s
11. V. Zala / P. Fiuza – MINI JCW Rally – 42h 04m 58s
22. L. Sanz / M. Gerini – MINI ALL4 Racing – 44h 51m 59s
27. D. Krotov / K. Zhiltsov – MINI JCW Buggy – 46h 42m 09s