As is annual tradition, our mates at MCH Photo were on photography duty on the Dakar Rally. We select our favourite shots from an AWESOME selection from Dakar 2017, which saw Stéphane Peterhansel take his 13th victory.
13 times. Stéphane Peterhansel has now won arguably the most dangerous endurance race on the planet, on both four wheels and two, 13 times. Allow me to put that into perspective…
Scan through Dakar’s weighty history books and you’ll find the next most successful man to be Russia’s Vladimir Chagin, who’s taken victory in the Truck class ‘only’ seven times – one more than Czech Loprais – with French compatriots Cyril Despres and Cyril Neveu slotting in close behind courtesy of their five wins apiece in the Bike category. And that’s just the competitors themselves: Peugeot’s 1-2-3 podium lockout in 2017 secured its sixth overall win on the event since its first in 1987, six less than Mitsubishi has managed since 1985. And yes, Peterhansel is responsible for two and three of those respectively, as well as another two for MINI and six for Yamaha. Much as Tom Kristensen became ‘Mr Le Mans‘ with a record that’s unlikely to be beaten, Peterhansel’s ‘Mr Dakar’ accolade is similarly the career of legend.
Not that the Frenchman’s run to the chequered flag across 8,782km and two weeks wasn’t without challenges, of course, not least nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb, two-time WRC champ (and 2010 Dakar winner) Carlos Sainz he counts as Peugeot teammates. Indeed, heading into the Chilecito-San Juan stage on the second-to-last day, Peterhansel trailed countryman Loeb by just over one minute, only for time lost on the stage costing the WRC king both the rally lead and more than six minutes in time to his teammate. A late charge, and several stage wins, couldn’t quite bring Loeb back into contention though, his second-place run ending just over five minutes behind Peterhansel, who’d managed to survive a bizarre collision with KTM rider Simon Marcic on the ninth stage. Early charges for Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Carlos Sainz would ultimately come to naught…
Peterhansel though would not be the only competitor making history in his Red Bull-liveried 3008 DKR. Sam Sunderland, on his fifth Dakar start, would become the first Briton to ever take victory on the Dakar, courtesy of his 32m winning margin in the Bike category. His marque of choice? KTM. Understandable really, given that the Austrian manufacturer has not lost on the Dakar since its first win in 2001.
Now that the formalities are out of the way, we invite you to take a long look at these superb shots from crankandpiston’s old mates at MCH Photo, and be sure to check out the team’s blog HERE, soon to be updated with their exploits on the ground.