While the last special was won by Norway’s Pål Anders Ullevålseter (motorcycles) and Robby Gordon (cars), France’s Cyril Despres and Stéphane Peterhansel took their fourth and 10th Dakars respectively, all categories included. The champions were greeted on Lima’s Plaza de Armas. At the end of Dakar 2012 the 33rd race to date, 97 motorcycles, 12 quads, 78 cars and 60 trucks made it to the finishing line which means only 249 of the 443 vehicles which started the rally in Mar del Plata.
After covering 8 300km on roads, courses and dunes since the start in Mar del Plata, Depres took his fourth title in Lima.
The close race between Depres and Marc Coma proved that one has to be an all-rounder in order to win a Dakar. With a disappointment for Marc Coma: on the eve of the finish, a gearbox breakdown prevented him from fighting on at a time when he was leading the general classification. The Catalan was also forced to replace his engine, which gave rise to a 45-minute penalty pursuant to the new rule.
Behind Despres and Coma, the riders vying for a podium spot were never in a position to challenge the title contenders. Strong and consistent Hélder Rodrigues finished the rally in 3rd place, just like last year. The breakthrough of this year came from Joan Barreda, who lost all chances of shining in the overall classification at the beginning of the rally (11th at the end) but was still able to leave his mark on the race, with a stage win and eight specials in the Top 5.
Italy’s Alessandro Boturri was the fastest rookie in the Dakar (8th, 2 h 59’04” behind Despres), racing for the new team Bordone-Ferrari, which also placed Jordi Viladoms in fourth. The Catalan clan can be happy, with Laia Sanz taking the win in the ladies’ category. On the other hand, Stéphane Hamard won the classification of riders participating without assistance.
In the car category, everyone expected it to be a Mini affair, since the X-Raid team seemed to have the best hardware and the best drivers… and this was the case! In the end, the Frankfurt-based team won eight stages out of 13 with four different pilots (with Stéphane Peterhansel taking three). It was no surprise to see the main duel take place between “Peter” and his most experienced teammate, Spain’s Joan “Nani” Roma. Peterhansel took his fourth win in the car category (the first in South America) with a margin of 41’56” over the Catalan driver.
The highlight of the 2012 Dakar was the performance of ever-consistent Giniel de Villiers. Although his preparation was cut short and the project was still in the making, the South African driver managed to crack a podium place in the very first participation of the new Toyota.
Finally, the win in the two-wheel drive category went to Ronan Chabot and his SMG buggy. He was extremely consistent and beat South Africa’s Mark Corbett by over nine hours. This margin would have made the winner of the production car category, Xavier Foj’s life much easier, but once again, the Spaniard had to wait until the final part of the race to open the decisive gap and win the race against his best enemy, Japan’s Jun Mitsuhashi, by 59′.
Defending quad champion Alejandro Patronelli managed to get back-to-back wins. His brother Marcos lost all his chances when he reached 1 h 20′ in stage 7. But the formal domination of the race by the elder of the brothers from Las Flores was contested throughout the entire rally by another Argentinean: Tomás Maffei. Last year’s seventh-placed pilot took the lead after stages 4 and 5 and was able to cling onto the Patronellis, only losing his second place after stage 9.
Dakar 2012 was the first win for Gerard de Rooy and the Italian constructor Iveco. A winning combination which already seemed to have it in the bag at the start in Mar del Plata. The Dutch driver, De Rooy Jr, left his mark on the 2012 edition by taking the most stages (5) and leading the race from stage 4 onwards. Eduard Nikolayev’s disqualification for anti-sportive behaviour in stage 4 showed just how difficult the transition is proving to be. Nevertheless, this allowed Andrey Karginov and the reserved Kazakh Artur Ardavichus to shine by taking their maiden victories at the Dakar.
The Overall Results Were:
1. Stephane PETERHANSEL (FRA)
2. Joan (Nani) ROMA (ESP)
3. Giniel DE VILLIERS (ZAF)
1. Gerard DE ROOY (NLD)
2. Hans STACEY (NLD)
3. Artur ARDAVICHUS (KAZ)
1. Cyril DESPRES (FRA)
2. Marc COMA (ESP)
3. Helder RODRIGUES (PRT)
1. Alejandro PATRONELLI (ARG)
2. Marcos PATRONELLI (ARG)
3. Tomas MAFFEI (ARG)