The 2013 Dakar Rally began with 196 starters in the motorcycle diviosn and of these only 125 finished. As most motor sport fans would know KTM mounted Frenchman Cyril Despres won the event this year. Below are a few thoughts and observations of my own on this year's Dakar.
Best placed Australian was Rod Faggotter in 14th place, with Ben Grabham just behind him in 15th. The Australian entrants in the Moto class finished up like this…
14: Rod Faggotter (123), Yamaha15: Ben Grabham (57), KTM
24: Warren Strange (131), Honda34: Todd Smith (156), Honda
59: Simon Pavey (51), Husqvarna111: Matt Fish (39), Husqvarna
Andrew Scott (181) called it quits at stage 4, and Troy O’Connor (75) was out at stage 5.
I can’t help feeling that Matt Fish was somewhat hamstrung by his role as teammate Barreda Bort’s water carrier. Fish came in third on the second stage, and was in sixth place overall. However he lost time providing assistance to Juan on more than one occasion, so I was quite disappointed to see him finish so far down the listings.
Other interesting stuff
One of the biggest disappointments for me this year was the failure of Ignacio Chivite to bring his Bultaco Frontera to the finish line. On his second Dakar attempt, Chivite did not get past the second stage.
There was some good news for two stroke fans though. Argentine rider Luis Belaustegui (150) might have been the last rider home, but he was riding a 150cc KTM two stroke, so it was quite an achievement.
I’m delighted to see that unlike KTM, Honda and Yamaha; Suzuki had a 100% finish rate. Portugal’s Mario Patrao (103) brought his Suzuki in at 30th place, on his debut Dakar.
It’s also worth noting that Kawasaki had a 100% finish rate, as did Chinese manufacturer Jincheng. The two Jinchengs finished in 55th and 118th positions, while the three Kawasaki riders came in at 45th, 84th and 113th.
The only woman to finish was Laia Sanz (36) who piloted her Gas Gas to 93rd. This was pretty impressive, seeing as she spent 24 hours on the bike during one stage, and got back with only three hours to get some rest before heading out for the next day (and incurred a hefty penalty for coming in late).
I didn’t realise until after the event that Frenchman Nicolas Boyer was riding a 1999 Honda XR400R. The fact that he finished in 87th position, in front of many more modern bikes is made even more awesome by the fact that he was riding unassisted in the malle-moto class. He paid €3500 for the bike and had a total budget of €25,000! Well done that man!