The 2017 Dakar has lived up to the promise of its organisers as one of the most closely fought in recent years. Rain and even a little snow have further spiced up the challenge while crews climbed as high as 4, 960 metres in the course of a road section on Day 3. Peugeot technical director Bruno Famin takes a look at the race so far.
Team Peugeot has taken the difficulties encountered so far in its stride, claiming four fastest times from five. The team’s three crews still in contention have taken turns at the top of the leaderboard. They all won at least one stage each. The podium is locked out by three 3008DKRs. Although Sébastien Loeb is the only one with two stage wins, last year’s winner Stéphane Peterhansel is currently in front, 1m09s clear of his teammate.
Distance completed so far: 4, 036km, including 1, 386km divided into five stages (Stage 6 cancelled).
Distance remaining: 4, 787km, including 2, 025km divided into six stages.
Stage victories: 4/5>Loeb (SS2 and SS5), Peterhansel (SS3), Despres (SS4).
Top speed reached: 203kph (Leg 2)
Hottest temperature reached: 45°C (Leg 2)
“This year’s Dakar has already produced plenty of drama. There have been incidents every day, including the accidents of Nasser Al Attiyah and Carlos Sainz, mechanical problems, some complex navigation and a cancelled stage. The leaderboard underwent big changes in the course of the first week but tonight’s top four are still blanketed by less than six minutes. That’s practically nothing.”
“Nobody has managed to pull out a big advantage but we’ve seen some crews lose 45 minutes due to navigation problems, and we’re not immune to suffering the same sort of misadventure. It’s nice to have our three cars in the lead but we are obviously disappointed to have lost Carlos. Nani Roma is sitting on our tail and even those who have lost ground during the first week still have a chance of getting back into an event like this year’s. When you look at what’s to come next week, including an 800-kilometre marathon stage, followed by the Super Belen stage, it would be rash to try to predict the winner of the 2017 Dakar Rally.”
“We don’t have a big lead but it’s nice to be in front, even though I can’t help feeling that I took a little too much time getting into the swing. We have made a few navigational errors. Thankfully, they didn’t cost us too much time and we are first overall this evening despite a relatively poor first week. This year’s stages have been more in keeping with the spirit of cross-country rallying than last year. We’ve had a nice mix and good variety. I am expecting to see more dunes next week, and some more challenging navigation, but that suits us. I hope our car will continue to be just as reliable because we haven’t had a single problem so far.”
“It’s great to see three Peugeots in front. Daniel and I aren’t far behind Stéphane, so there’s still everything to play for. Being just a minute down after the time we have lost so far – including our engine problem which cost us 25 minutes, plus a puncture – is very encouraging. There were times when we were convinced we were no longer in contention. The stages have been real cross-country rally tests, including off-road driving and hard navigation. Even the more experienced crews have had problems, so it’s good to be still in the fight.”
“We wanted to win a stage. That was a big boost to our morale because it showed we have the speed. It put us ahead of our game plan. And it was a nice reward for the work we have put in since our switch to four wheels, as well as for the team’s ability to provide us with a great car which is fast on all types of terrain. Apart from the bird-inflicted damage to our Sentinel antenna early on, we haven’t had a single problem with our 3008DKR and we are really looking forward to the second week!”