By the twelfth day things looked already nicely set up for Stéphane Peterhansel as he started in the high altitudes of Chile and aimed for the town of Copiapó. He finished just six minutes behind his X-Raid Mini team-mate Nani Roma – who was continuing to march up the table in pursuit – and Giniel de Villiers’s Toyota Hilux. Once more Robbie Gordon impressed in his Hummer and was on track to win before Roma put in a surge towards the end of the 319km stage. Gordon had clawed his way back to an impressive 16th overall (he had dropped as low as 43rd), but was still many hours off the lead.
Gordon continued to set the pace the next day on the final long-distance stage of the 2013 Dakar: 441km from Copiapó to La Serena across some huge dunes and rolling rocky desert terrain. He set the fastest time, though there was a close fight at the top as Guerlain Chicherit was just 22 seconds behind in his SMG Buggy. The stage win moved Gordon another couple of places up in the standings. Be sure to check out Gordon cresting a dune about 50 seconds into the above video to get a snapshot of just how on the edge the cars are – the drivers can never tell what’s the other side from their high-up cabins.
Peterhansel cruised, relatively, to post the ninth fastest stage time, maintaining a 45 minute cushion to de Villiers’ Toyota. He was helped out by X-Raid team-mate Roma, who played wingman across the long stage.
With the win looking secure for Peterhansel, Roma let rip on the final day’s 128km competitive run to Santiago, split in two and sandwiched between 502km of navigational link roads. Roma set the fastest time, though his team-mate Orlando Terranova was but 13 seconds behind. With Novitskiy seventh and Peterhansel 10th, these final stage times set up the X-Raid team to take four of the top five positions, the cherry on top of Peterhansel’s 11th Dakar win.
After navigating 8,574km through South America, half of that on tough competitive stages which took 38 and a half hours to run, Stéphane Peterhansel entered the Chilean capital not only at the head of the Dakar 2013 edition but also as a back-to-back victor and an incredible 11-time winner in cars and on bikes.
88 other cars finished, alongside 124 bikes, 60 trucks and just 26 quad riders. Peterhansel suffered no mechanical problems, with the Mini running near perfectly throughout the event. There’s no such thing as a lucky win in the Dakar: but you do need luck as well as consummate skill. And Peterhansel has no shortage of both. 12 up in 2014?
Dakar 2013: Final positions after Stage 14
1: Stephane Peterhansel (X-Raid Mini) 38h32m39s
2: Giniel de Villiers (Imperial Toyota Hilux) +42m22s
3: Leonid Novitskiy (X-Raid Mini) +1h28m22s
4: Nani Roma (X-Raid Mini) +1h36m43s
5: Orlando Terranova (X-Raid BMW) +1h49m10s