Pune: Hero MotoSports Team Rally’s Oriol Mena finished seventh to claim the ‘Best Rookie Rider’ title of the Dakar Rally while CS Santosh became the first Indian to finish the competition thrice.
Spaniard Mena on Saturday ended the 14th stage in the sixth spot in an hour, 31 minutes and 42 seconds. The 30-year-old’s overall timing stood at 45 hours, 28 minutes and 58 seconds.
“I am really happy with my results. I enjoyed the Dakar a lot. The last stage felt the longest, as I approached the finish line. But I am now at the finish line and also having won in the rookie class, I feel elated. It’s a real good result and what can I say, dreams do come true,” Mena said.
His teammate Santosh achieved his best performance ever, finishing the Rally at 35th position with a timing of 54 hours, 35 minutes and 37 seconds.
“It was as tough Dakar this year for sure, every day you had to bow down to the stages. I had lots of ups and downs, some high points in the beginning, and then some lows as well,” said Santosh.
“I think it was everything that you would envision a Dakar to be. I am happy to make it to the finish line of yet another Dakar. My best Dakar so far so I am really happy to be going home with that.”
Austria’s Matthias Walkner of KTM won his first Dakar Rally bike title, beating Argentine second-place finisher Kevin Benavides of Honda by 16 minutes and 53 seconds, reports Efe.
Walkner, who finished second last year, became the first Austrian to win the world’s most daunting rally race. He provided another victory for Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM, which has dominated Dakar for 17 years but faced stiff competition in 2018 from Honda and Yamaha.
The Austrian finished the race in a time of 43:06:01 hours while Benavides, who was bidding to become the first South American to win Dakar, won the 14th and final loop stage around Cordoba and posted an overall time of 43:22:54 hours. Benavides’ second-place finish was the best ever by a South American in the bikes category. Australia’s Toby Price of KTM, winner of the 2016 Dakar bike race, came in third in the general classification.
Three pre-race favourites -- the United Kingdom’s Sam Sunderland (KTM), the defending champion; Spain’s Joan Barreda (Honda); and Frenchman Adrien Van Beveren (Yamaha) -- all were forced to abandon the competition during earlier stages.
The motorcyclists completed just 11 and a half of the 14 stages initially scheduled for this year’s Dakar. The ninth stage was cancelled due to rain, the 12th stage was not contested after riders refused to accept a change in the route and one stretch of another stage was cancelled due to fog.
The 2018 edition of the Dakar Rally was the 40th overall and the 10th successive edition to be held in South America. Less than half of the participants who started the race on January 6 completed the 9,000-kilometre trek through parts of Peru, Bolivia and Argentina.
Sainz clinches farewell win for Peugeot
Spaniard Carlos Sainz won the Dakar Rally for departing Peugeot in Cordoba, Argentina, ahead of Qatar’s Nasser al-Attiyah in a Toyota. This was Sainz’s second Dakar title. The double world rally champion previously won in 2010 with Volkswagen.
Peugeot’s works team, who have now won the last three Dakars, are bowing out of the endurance event after this year’s edition.
Final standings: 1. Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz (Peugeot) 49h 16m 18s; 2. Nasser Al-Attiyah and Matthieu Baumel +00h 43m 40s; 3. Giniel De Villiers and Dirk Von Zitzewitz+01h 16m 41s; 4. Stephane Peterhansel and Jean Paul Cottret (Peugeot) +01h 25m 29s; 5. Jakub Przygonski and Tom Colsoul (Orlen Team/X-Raid) +02h 45m 24s.
Final standings: 1. Walkner 43h 06m 01s; 2. Benavides +16m 53s; 3. Price +23m 01s; 4. Meo +47m 28s; 5. Gerard Farres Guell (Himoinsa Racing) + 01h 01m 04s…7. Mena +02h 22m 52s…11. Garcia +02h 45m 58s…34. Santosh +11h 29m 31s.
Final standings: 1. Casale 53h 47m 04s; 2. Cavigliasso +01h 38m 52s; 3. Ferioli +02h 08m 14s; 4. Marcelo Medeiros (Taguatur Racing Team) +04h 30m 00s; 5. Alexis Hernandez (Alexis Hernandez Racing) +04h 38m 53s.
Final standings: 1. Reinaldo Varela and Gustavo Gugelmin 72h 44m 06s; 2. Patrice Garrouste and Steven Griener +00h 57m 37s; 3. Claude Fournier and Szymon Gospodarczyk +10h 09m 25s; 4. Jose Luis Pena Campo and Rafael Tornabell Cordoba +10h 13m 20s; 5. Camelia Liparoti and Angelo Montico (CAT Racing) +27h 54m 15s.
Final standings: 1. Eduard Nikolaev, Evgeny Yakovlev and Vladimir Rybakov 54h 57m 37s; 2. Siarhei Viazovich, Pavel Haranin, Andrei Zhyhulin (Maz-Sportauto) +03h 57m 17s; 3. Airat Mardeev, Aydar Belyaev and Dmitriy Svistunov (Kamaz - Master) +05h 22m 34s; 4. Artur Ardavichus, Serge Bruynkens and Michel Huisman (Astana Motorsport) +06h 38m 22s; 5. Martin Macik, Frantisek Tomasek and Michal Mrkva (Big Shock Racing)+07h 58m 45s.