Author: Craig Perronne Photos: Courtesy of ASO
All of the American teams were looking to bounce back in Stage 2 after a devastating start to the Dakar Rally during the first stage. Unfortunately the woes for all the Americans continued as Robby Gordon, BJ Baldwin and Peter Hajas all encountered mechanical problems. However, all have vowed to continue to fight on and solve their issues.
Robby Gordon’s problems continued in Stage 2 and he had to finish the stage on the wrong end of a tow strap.
Robby Gordon had another rough day with reported fueling and mechanical issues all taking a toll. While Gordon had to be dragged across the finish line by a fellow competitor with a tow strap, he did dramatically improve upon his disastrous Stage 1 finish coming in at 28th position 1:13:11 behind Stage 2 winner Stephane Peterhansel. However, that was little consolation to Gordon as he now is in 38th overall 3:46:23 out of first. The increasing gap will make it hard to break into the top ten.
BJ Baldwin’s woes also continued as serious vapor lock and fueling issues struck his Jefferies-built Chevy Colorado. A dejected Baldwin crawled out of his Monster Energy racer after coming in a full 4:36:21 behind stage winner Peterhansel in 82nd position. While definitely looking tired and seriously bummed, BJ vowed to continue the fight with Damien Jeffries believing the problem was solvable.
Peter Hajas was yet another victim of Stage 2 suffering fueling issues and having the radiator fans stop working on his Brenthel-built racer. Overheating oil and water temperatures forced Hajas to come to a complete stop, however he was able to rewire the fans and discovered the fuel filters were clogged. Remember that, unlike the desert racing we are used to in the USA, there are no pits and assistance is not allowed on the racecourse expect by other vehicles entered in the race. Once in a Special Stage, racers are pretty much on their own.
With all the serious downtime experienced during the special, Hajas found himself in the infamous grey dunes of Nihuil at night. While the dunes are not large, they do have a very irregular shape making getting stuck hard very easy. Also at night with no landmarks visible, navigation is extremely difficult. The decision was made to spend the night in the dunes and start at first light. While making navigation much easier, timing was now a major concern as Hajas had only until an hour after the last of the big trucks left to take the start (approximately at 11:30 am). If he doesn’t make the start, his Dakar will be over. We have yet to hear from the Brenthel team if he was able to make it.
Stephane Peterhansel continues to be the master of Dakar taking the win on Stage 2 with his Monster Energy MINI and the overall lead.
The stage win went to a very familiar name in the form of Stephane Peterhansel and his Monster Energy X-raid MINI. By winning Stage 2, Peterhansel also now becomes the new overall leader of the Dakar with Carloz Sainz in his SMG buggy providing serious pressure only 28 seconds behind him. Nasser Al-Attiyah in another MINI now sits in third four minutes and 19 seconds behind Peterhansel. However it is still very early in the Dakar, and there are many miles to go.
The Red Bull SMG buggy of Carlos Sainz was extremely fast on Stage 2 coming in just 28 seconds behind Peterhansel.
Will the mysterious fueling problems of Team America continue to plague them? We hope not, but there will be no mercy from the weather as an even higher temperature of 107 degrees is forecast for Stage 3. Extreme heat is forecasted until the races reach the coast of Chile on Stage 9 meaning that solving fueling issues is a must. Go Team America!
The huge trucks are amazing to watch and are actually quite nimble. While they look top-heavy, all of their weight is down low and most have around 14 inches of wheel travel with 48-inch tires. Stage 2 winner in the Truck Class Gerard De Rooy tackled the grey dunes with ease in his Iveco.
Dakar legend Marc Coma aboard his KTM flies past a medical assistance helicopter on his way to the dunes.
The Russians love their big trucks and one of the best are the massive Kamaz trucks that can plow through just about anything.
British rider Sam Sunderland was the fastest on the bikes aboard his factory Honda CRF 450 Rally machine taking the stage win.
Overall Standings As Of Stage 2 1 300 PETERHANSEL STÉPHANE (FRA) MINI 03h52m05s 2 303 SAINZ CARLOS (ESP) SMG 03h52m51s +46s 3 302 DE VILLIERS GINIEL (ZAF) TOYOTA HILUX 03h57m39s +05m34s 4 304 ROMA NANI (ESP) MINI 03h59m30s +07m25s 5 301 AL-ATTIYAH NASSER (QAT) MINI 03h59m49s +07m44s 6 307 TERRANOVA ORLANDO (ARG) MINI ALL4 RACING 04h04m46s +12m41s 7 312 CHABOT RONAN (FRA) SMG ORIGINAL 04h06m08s +14m03s 8 315 LAVIEILLE CHRISTIAN (FRA) HAVAL H8 04h11m43s +19m38s 9 308 ALVAREZ LUCIO (ARG) FORD RANGER 04h18m05s +26m00s 10 336 VARELA REINALDO MARQUES (BRA) MITSUBISHI ASX 04h20m11s +28m06s