Nani Roma celebrates winning the 2014 Dakar.
Author: Craig Perronne Photos: Courtesy of ASO
Well, it is all over. After 5,825 miles of racing, Nani Roma has won the 2014 Dakar. In the end there was no mad dash to the finish and Stephane Peterhansel played the gentleman following team orders. Shortly after the start, he pulled over and waited for Nani Roma to pass giving Roma the win as instructed. It was obvious that, while Peterhansel was happy for his friend Roma to win, there was frustration under the surface. "Let's look on the bright side of things. The car didn't miss a beat, it took anything we threw at it like usual, and we had lots of fun driving,” shared Peterhansel. “But I'm frustrated with the final result. The third thing I want to say is that Nani's my friend and I'm pleased to see him happy because it has been his dream for ten years, since he shifted to a car.” Just how frustrated is Stephane is something of debate and probably only known amongst the top levels of the MINI team. Knowing his strong desire to win, we can’t imagine it is an easy pill for him to swallow.
For Nani Roma, the win comes exactly 10 years after his last victory on a motorcycle. Roma had created a comfortable 30-minute lead halfway into the rally that looked almost insurmountable. That was until Stephane went on the attack stage after stage whittling that big lead down to just over two minutes until team orders were handing down freezing the positions. Team orders or not, Roma was obviously happy with his win. “I don't know if this was the most stressful thing I'd ever done, but it was very tough. The second week with difficult, long stages wasn't easy. We're happy, very happy with the work Michel [Périn] and I did. I'm going to revel in this. Ten years to the day after winning on a motorcycle, I've won in a car. It's a dream come true,” said Nani at the finish. He went on to dedicate the win to his former co-driver, Henri Magne, who died in an accident while racing with Roma in Morocco in 1996.
Nani Roma with Stephane Peterhansel who, following team orders, came in second.
Reaction to the “engineered” win was mixed. Many were happy for Roma, but just as many seemed to blast the team orders on social media. Some went so far as to say they will never watch another Dakar and to claim team orders should be outlawed. While no one personally attacked Roma (nor should they), many seemed frustrated with what transpired.
Our reaction was equally split as Nani Roma is both a great driver and a great guy. It would be hard to find a nicer and more deserving guy to win the Dakar, but we much rather would have seen an epic battle between Roma and Peterhansel to the finish. We get telling a driver who has no chance of winning that he will now play a support role, but when two drivers are both battling for the win, we say let them. If one would crash or break, there are plenty of other MINIs to take their positions. However, we don’t supply the millions of dollars the MINI goes through at Dakar, so we really don’t have much say in the matter.
In the motorcycles, there was no question of a winner as Marc Coma roared to the finish line winning the Dakar by almost an hour.
So that is it for the 2014 Dakar. It has been an absolutely epic adventure that only racing almost 6,000 miles can bring. While Team America fizzled this year, all have vowed to come back stronger for 2015. What waits for them is not only the longest off-road race in the world, but by far the most difficult. Our congratulations go out not only to the winners, but to anyone who finished this year’s Dakar as it was one of the most grueling. Only 351 days remain to Dakar 2015!
The Kamaz team would take both first and third in the big truck class with Andrey Karginov’s Kamaz taking the win.
Jordi Viladoms (on left) came in second behind Coma giving KTM the top two spots on the podium.
2014 Dakar Winners Cars: Nani Roma MINI Trucks: Andrey Karginov Kamaz Bikes: Marc Coma KTM