Monday, January 4, 2016

DAKAR: 2016 Edition begins in Earnest...

Crikeys! Think Thy Internetz' was A-L-L choked up with sand last December! As once again, there was very little information towards Thou Dakar event that was Screen-reader Friendly, meaning it's hard for 'Lucy to read me any of the minutia regarding the latest DackCar' tidbits...

Thus deferring to WICKEDPedia', for which at least 'Lucy - My ARSE-STEAMED Screen-reader can read, its Pre-race details for the 37th, or is I-T 38th running of Thy Dakar; Jan 3-16 also were pretty Sketchy when I began this one month out - Only divulging what apparently will be the Top-3 Bananas in this year's vaunted "Cars" category, featuring defending winners Mini vs. Peugeot and Toyota, with a lone Ford entry denoted.

Although the page was mightily updated in just a week's time from beginning this with A-L-L-L 4-classes listing respective entry numbers, even if a few were duplicates!

Then again, it's funny, how usually I'm sittin' Beach-side in Kona with some funny 'lil drinks with umbrellas during thee Dakar, but Alas, those days have come to a Screeching Halt for the time being; Sigh!

As two past World Rally Championship Stars, most notably Nine times consecutive WRC champion Sebastian Loeb gets more Aplomb, whilst a past Works "FoMoCo" Rally Pilote' whom I always loosely associated with  "Mika-the-Fin," NO! Not that Mika; (Hakkinen) Hya! But Mikko Hirvonen both make their Dack-Car' debuts...

And not really sure what to make, if anythingy' about this lone Ford entry for Spain's Xavier Pons with Argentinean Navigator Ricardo Torlaschi campaigning the No. 320 Ford Ranger.

As Ponds is another two-wheeler convert who'll be contesting his maiden Dakar as another ex-WRC competitor, playing Thy Keyboards of a V-8 Ford Ranger for South Racing? Who ran the South African inspired custom FoMoCo' Ranger last year, albeit with a different driver lineup.

Yep, Y'all guessed I-T! Having great difficulties finding anythingy' conclusive on this current Endeavour, which presumably is an evolution of the truck Ford unveiled for the 2014 Dakar...

BMW's Mini Desert Raiders appear set to feature a twelve claws armada spearheaded by reigning two-time Dakar champion Nasser Al-Attiyah's #301 entry, past "Buddy" 'O Robby Dirtman Gourdoun's! (Gordon) Also having won bronze in the 2012 Summer Olympics in Skeet for Qatar. And having just celebrated his 45th birthday on December 21st.

The 12-car fleet, 'Whale I-T originally was listed as twelve before being sliced in half when I resumed workin' upon this story just under three weeks out from the Opening Day's stage...

Also included in BMW Mini X-Raid's ranks is the aforementioned Mikko Hirvonen, (#315) winner of 15 WRC Rally's - Along with finishing his career as a Citroen team-mate of Loebs, as four-times runner-up to the legendous' Frenchman.

As Mikko has eschewed longtime WRC Co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen in favour of France's Michel Périn, not only a three-times French Rally champion but scoring a Dakar Hat-trick 'O victories between 1994-96!

Meanwhile, Nani Roma, another two-discipline Dakar winner, i.e.; Motorcycles, (Bikes) 2004 and Cars in 2014 will once again be hounding Al-Attiyah, as the soon-to-be 44yr old Spaniard is still hungry to beat the elder Qatari!

With the remaining bulk 'O Mini's Claw's; Err ranks comprised of thee Unknown Soldiers, alas, relatively unheralded drivers of: Argentina's Orlando Terranova, who's name sounds somewhat familiar to me, perhaps from his recent fifth place finish? Yet Der Neederlander's Erik Van Loon and Poland's Adam Małysz are definite unknown's...

Peugeot returned to the Dakar for the first time since 1990 last year, having won the epic Paris to Dakar Rally four straight times between 1987-90 before withdrawing.

Having mounted their comeback last year, this year's challenger has been massively redesigned for what some are calling the "Dream Team." Comprising of the aforementioned French WRC legend Loeb, he'll be joined by 'El Matador, aka Carlos Sainz, winner of the Dakar for Volkswagen in 2010.

Also at the wheel of a Peugeot is Thy wily "Desert Fox," nee Stéphane Peterhansel, having been victorious a record eleven times, both on two and four wheels. So take that Monsieur Loeb; Hooah!

Whilst two DackCar' "Newby's" will race for their Home-team's Tri-colour Works effort, as Cyril Despres, former five-times Bikes winner has also made the switch to four wheels and will hope to emulate his team-mate Peterhansel's success while driving for the French Lionesses in his
sophomore campaign.

Well known French Sports Car Ace, Romain Dumas is also taking the Dakar plunge, as Dumas has won le 24 Heurs du Mans and 12-hours of Sebring plus the Pikes Peak Hillclimb overall! Having been a past Penske ALMS Porsche RS Spyder pilote - As it'll be interesting to see how this duo fairs.

Toyota meanwhile seeks its first Dakar crown, with its Hilux armada led by South African Dakar veteran and '09 winner Giniel de Villiers once again spearheading the Japanese giants Dakar assault.

As a supporting cast 'O Toy-Yoter' PickemUp trucks primary mission most likely will be to assist Villiers, a creditable Dark Horse contender for overall victory, having finished no worse than fourth since switching to the Rising Sun's machinery; third 2012 and runner-up twice in 2013 & 2015!

Meanwhile, news leaked on Dec 16th that thee irrepressible Robby Dirtman Gourdoun would once again return to the South American High Desert Plains in one of his Humdinger Gordini vehicles. (#312) With Stadium Truck champion and X-Games Gold medalist Sheldon Creed in No. 337 making his rookie debut in the Dakar, so watch out for those Gordini's Nasser; (Al-Attiyah) Hooah!

As the South American Dakar has been solely the Playground of 4X4 machinery so far. As will Mini continue crushing the competition? Will Toyota be victorious, emulating their debutant NASCAR crown? Or will one of the trick two-wheel drive Peugeot's capture Dakar and end the 4WD's superiority?

Cars Winners
2009) Giniel de Villiers: VW Touareg
2010) Carlos Sainz: VW Touareg
2011) Nasser Al-Attiyah: VW Touareg
2012) Stéphane Peterhansel,: BMW Mini
2013) Stéphane Peterhansel,: BMW Mini
2014) Nani Roma: BMW Mini
2015) Nasser Al-Attiyah: BMW Mini

Was totally unawares' of our top two Motorcyclist's career changes, with the aforementioned Cyril Despres move to Peugeot, longtime team-mate and arch nemesis Marc Coma announced his retirement last year, having become the Dakar's newly appointed Sporting Director.

Naturally KTM hopes to see a seamless transition towards a new pair of winning riders, with the likes of Great Britain's Sam Sunderland hoping for glory, although I'll admit I'm pulling for Aussie' Toby Price instead.

While the Honda's look to be KTM's stiffest competition with a massive nine Factory "Works" bikes taking part, including American RickyBrabec making his DackCar' debut at the tender age of 24 - Supporting last year's runner-up Paulo Goncalves, who's hoping to capitalize upon Despres and Comas departures from the class. Whilst Yamaha, Husqvarnna and Sirocco will also be nipping at KTM's heels.

with the Dakar being cancelled in 2008 due to security fears, hence the gap in these two mighty KTM rider's glory, having dominated the last decade's outcome! Hence, as already mentioned,  the Scooters' (Bikes) category is wide open and will see a new name atop thy leader-board...

Bike Winners - An All KTM Affair...
Cyril Despres: 2005, 2007, 2010, 2012-13.
Marc Coma: 2006, 2009, 2011, 2014-15.

ARSE-Sumin' "Peacock-lite," nee NBCSN will once again be featuring 30min vignettes this year, presumably with Leigh Diffey narrating.

With NO disrespect meant to either of the other two Dakar classes, i.e.; Quads and Trucks, just simply ran outta steam, not to mention I primarily follow the Cars & Bikes instead,.

Although Ill confess to having a passing fancy towards the Trucks, especially since I enjoy the Dutchy' B-I-G' Rig pilot Gerard de Rooy, this year in the #501 Iveco, who's seemingly fighting a mighty skirmish vs. the Rooskies' Semis', Ya Sure Yuhs Betcha!

And a certain Trucks co-driver named Jan Lammers got my Attenzione, as surely that's the ex-Formula 1 and 1988 24 Heurs du Mans winner sharing the #520 MAN, right?

Meanwhile, although the Quad riders are simply overlooked, they're amazing athletes who also endure astonishing competition during the grueling Dakar, so be sure to check I-T out if Y'all are Uh-hunkerin' for some motor racing...