[Dakar 2015] Three cheers for Red Bull

Marc Coma Dakar 2015 3

The last day of this ultra-challenging Dakar Rally had one final surprise left in store for competitors who had braved the conditions to make it that far. Torrential rainfall created a dangerously slippery piste that led to race organisers shortening today’s timed special stage. It turned out to be good news for the overnight leaders of all four race categories as they were able to hold their positions on the route into Buenos Aires.

Walking away with his fifth bike title after a display of consistent speed combined with immense race management know-how is Marc Coma. The biggest threat came from Joan Barreda who led the race by over 12m from Marc in the first week. The Red Bull KTM Factory Team captain successfully chased down Joan to score this extra special win as it’s the first time he’s been able to string together back-to-back victories.

The Spaniard is now without doubt among the pantheon of Dakar greats, alongside his “best of enemies” Cyril Despres who also collected five bike wins. It would now appear to be Marc’s choice of how many more bike wins he wishes to rack up before switching to four-wheels.

Joining Marc in bringing their KTM 450 RALLY bikes over the finish-line were Ruben Faria, sixth overall, and Kuba Przygonski, 18th overall after overcoming mechanical problems on the final stage. There was a tactical play from Honda bikers Joan Barreda and Hélder Rodrigues as they waited on the stage for team-mate Paulo Gonçalves before accompanying the Portuguese biker to the finish-line to ensure his second place overall.

Marc Coma’s dominant display on two-wheels to give KTM their 14th consecutive Dakar title was matched in the car class by Nasser Al-Attiyah as the Qatari led the race from the second day before toasting victory at the conclusion of the final stage. The Qatar Rally Team racer and co-driver Matthieu Baumel have been the personification of cool from beginning to end, controlling the race, going fastest on six stages and never finishing a stage lower that seventh (with Nasser suffering from altitude sickness on that occasion). It will be some celebration tonight as Nasser is crowned Dakar champ for a second time and Matthieu scores his first win on his birthday of all days.

Also holding the same overall position since the second stage of the car race was Giniel de Villiers as the former Dakar champion records his third runner-up finish and fifth podium at the desert classic. It was a rally that steadily improved for Dakar debutants Team Peugeot-Total who quickly got over the disappointment of Carlos Sainz rolling out of the race in the first week to start putting together some real consistency. Stéphane Peterhansel recorded eight top 10 stage results to finish up 11th overall while car-race newcomer Cyril Despres’ rapid education saw him rise up the rankings in the final stages to eventually place 34th in the general classification. Marek Dabrowski, always willing to show grit and determination at the Dakar, battled through extremely tough circumstances to finish the race with the 23rd best time among the cars.

While the bike and car races provided masterclasses in how to lead from the front, the most emotion-packed victory was to be found in the truck class. Ayrat Mardeev followed in his late father’s footsteps in becoming a racing driver for Kamaz Master and today he managed to achieve the dream that always eluded Ilgizar Mardeev, who passed away six month ago – winning the Dakar Rally. The Russian team were visibly overcome by the result as they embraced at the finish-line with Kamaz Master trucks parked in all three podium positions – thanks to previous Dakar winners Eduard Nikolaev and Andrey Karginov who ended the race second and third respectively.

With a trio of category winners among the Red Bull family at this year’s Dakar we also extend our salute to all the guys who made this edition of the race so memorable. Highlights included Dakar debutant Matthias Walkner’s incredible win on stage 3 of the bike race. We’ll now be counting down the next 50 weeks until the toughest rally on the planet gets underway again, and with it, all that blood, sweat and tears.

Final results (Cars):
1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (QAT) Qatar Rally Team 40h 32m 25s
2. Giniel de Villiers (RSA) Toyota All Speed +00:35:34
3. Krzysztof Holowczyc (POL) Mini +01:32:01

11. Stéphane Peterhansel (FRA) Team Peugeot-Total +05:19:15
23. Marek Dabrowski (POL) Toyota +11:08:43
34. Cyril Despres (FRA) Team Peugeot-Total +15:38:07

Final results (Bikes):
1. Marc Coma (ESP) KTM 46h 03m 06s
2. Paulo Gonçalves (PRT) Honda +00:16:53
3. Toby Price (AUS) KTM +00:23:14
6. Ruben Faria (PRT) KTM +01:57:50
12. Hélder Rodrigues (PRT) Honda +04:00:00

17. Joan Barreda (ESP) Honda +05:54:35
18. Kuba Przygonski (POL) KTM +06:21:12

Final results (Trucks):
1. Ayrat Mardeev (RUS) Kamaz 42h 22m 01s
2. Eduard Nikolaev (RUS) Kamaz +00:13:52
3. Andrey Karginov (RUS) Kamaz +00:51:00
5. Dmitry Sotnikov (RUS) Kamaz +02:24:32

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool