The 2019 Dakar Rally is over with Toyota beating Red Bull (finally), the big Russian trucks beating everybody (as usual), Toby Price doing Australia proud and some surprises from the small contingent of Americans in the race.
In the car category, Dakar Rally regular Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel took first place in their factory-sponsored Toyota Hilux. They finished the 3,100-odd mile race with a total time of 34 hours, 38 minutes, and 14 seconds. This marked Toyota’s first Dakar victory.
Nani Roma and co-driver Alex Haro Bravo were about 46 minutes behind in second in a Monster Energy-sponsored X-Raid vehicle, followed by Sebastian Loeb and his privateer Peugeot. A Red Bull car doesn’t show up in the final results until fourth place, which is unusual.
The worst car finishing time this year was an almost comical 523 hours, 26, 48 seconds. That includes over 300 hours of penalties... we might have to revisit what Spaniards Alex Aguirregavria and Jordi Comallonga did to offend the timekeepers and Dakar gods so completely, because I’m pretty curious. They were driving a basically stock-looking Toyota Land Cruiser.
Robby Gordon, driving a Textron Wildcat XX so heavily modified that it was scored as a car instead of an SxS, finished way down in 49th with a total time of over 107 hours, including almost 10 and a half hours in penalties.
Interestingly his teammate, 20-year-old Blade Hildebrand, finished in around 75 hours to land in 42nd place. Finishing the Dakar Rally before you’re old enough to drink is pretty damn impressive. Beating big daddy Robby Gordon, in the same kind of car, must have Hildebrand’s stoke pretty strong.
I wouldn’t bring it up on the ride home though, young blood! Robby might make you walk home from Peru.
Textron is a UTV brand formally known as ArcticCat. Gordon has been working with the company for some time, trying to raise its profile against industry Goliaths Polaris and Can-Am. “I don’t know where we are situated against Toyota, Mini and Peugeot,” Gordon said in an interview before this year’s Dakar Rally. Well, we do know Gordon is an incredibly talented driver. But it doesn’t seem like his Textron is quite up to the challenge of catching those bigger cars.
Speaking of bigger, the trucks category was won by a Kamaz, which pretty much always happens. Eduard Nikolaev, Evgenii Iakovlev and Vladimir Rybakov got first place with no penalties and a time of 41 hours, one minute, 35 seconds.
Perennial rival Gerard de Rooy didn’t put up much of a fight for first in his Iveco.
KTM dominated the 2019 Dakar Rally on two wheels, with Australia’s off-road hero Toby Price repping the brand and finishing the race in 33 hours, 57 minutes and 16 seconds with just a one minute, 33 second penalty.
“The pain and torture has been worth it,” Price is quoted in a press release. The Dakar tortures everybody in it, but Price had a particularly tough go this year riding on a barely recovered broken wrist.
Toby Price is such a cool dude that I’ll just copy and paste his whole statement for you:
“It’s very crazy to sit here and say that we won the Dakar rally with no stage victories until today. It’s really crazy. I’m over the moon, I’m so damned stoked. It’s been a long 10 days. Now I’ll just wait and see what damage I’ve done to my wrist.
At the end of the day, the pain and torture has been worth it. I thought I would only be able to do two stages and then pull out and that would have been me done, but the support from everyone back home in Australia and then having some things go my way and a bit of luck, it just worked out in the end. It’s been an unreal rally.
[On the pain] Pretty much all I can say is that it feels like there are about five people driving a knife in my wrist now. It’s not very comfortable, it’s not very enjoyable, but at the end of the day the victory has paid off. I’ll forget about the pain now, that’s for sure. The win takes away all the pain. For sure, if it wasn’t for this victory it wouldn’t have been as sweet, but at the end of the day I was just happy to make the finishing line.
I didn’t think I was even going to be able to do that. I’m not the new boss of the rally, that’s for sure. There are so many guys that can win this race and we had strong competitors like Pablo and Ricky Brabec, Sam Sunderland, Matthias Walkner… everyone is strong. You can never count anybody out.
Kevin Benavides did a great job and at the end of the day we all fight to the finish line and it’s been a hard rally. I just don’t like giving up, I don’t like quitting, that’s for sure. That’s about it. I love being out on my bike and I love riding and to be here with all the Dakar family and the KTM team it’s amazing. So, yeah, we’re pumped”.
Argentinians took first, second and third on quads this year. The young Nico Cavigliasso is relatively new to Dakar but is wasting no time kicking its ass–last year he got second place, this year he finished first in 43 hours, one minute and 54 seconds on a Yamaha YFM700R.
Chileans Francisco Lopez Contardo and Alvaro Juan Leon Quintanilla won the rapidly expanding SxS class in a Can-Am in 42 hours, 19 minutes and five seconds.
American Casey Currie came in fourth, about two and a half hours behind the winners, also driving a Can-Am. And oh yeah, 2019 was his first Dakar Rally ever! I’d say fourth is one hell of a rookie finish. Suddenly, Currie comes out of nowhere and starts looking like the best chance for an American to win this race. which has never happened, by the way.
Currie may have been a rookie Dakar racer but he’s definitely not new to off-road. The guy has been successful in short course and Ultra4 racing, and axles made by Currie Enterprises are considered some of the best in the Jeep world.
So far, the only major drama I have heard about from this year’s race was that Kamaz running over a spectator’s legs. Luckily, it seems as though the 2019 Dakar Rally has gone off without a fatality or incident involving the destruction of any historic artifacts.
If my little run down here has got you intrigued regarding what this race is all about, the Dakar Rally official website is actually really good these days. You can click on any name in the rankings and be taken to a competitor bio, including a picture of their vehicle.