Surprises And Trophies At The Dakar Rally
The 2023 Dakar Rally is over, and the results are in. As always, some of these results are a bit surprising.
It’s no shocker that one of the Red Bull teams dominated T3 (also known as the Lightweight Prototype class), given the wealth of experience each driver and co-driver has. What is surprising is that it was the Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team that took first and second place, not the Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team. The top ten finishers are:
- Austin Jones, Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team: 51H 55' 53''
- Seth Quintero, Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team: 52H 47' 58''
- Guillaume de Mevius, Grallyteam: 53H 31' 35''
- Cristina Gutierrez Herrero, Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team: 54H 52' 13''
- Francisco Lopez Contardo, Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team: 54H 55' 41''
- Saleh Alsaif, Black Horse Team: 56H 10' 01''
- Ebenhaezer Basson, Grallyteam: 56H 49' 59''
- Hans Weijs, Arcane Racing: 58H 08' 58''
- Santiago Navarro, FN Speed Team: 58H 30' 40'
- Ignacio Casale, X-Raid Yamaha Supported Team: 58H 49' 20''
The final Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team member, Mitchell Guthrie, finished in 23rd place with a time of 79H 54' 01''. Guthrie entered Stage 5 in the lead, then suffered from a seized steering rack, forcing him to stop and wait for the team to come repair it. As if that wasn’t bad enough, his clutch gave out in the sand dunes later in the stage, forcing him to exit and incur a 25-hour penalty, knocking him out of contention.
Don’t count Guthrie out, though. By a strange coincidence, his actual pace without penalties would have given him an overall finishing time of 51H 55' 53'', identical to his teammate’s winning pace down to the second! Only mechanical failures held Guthrie back, not his skill or his speed.
Out of the 47 T3 vehicles that started the race, 38 finished, which says a lot about their overall durability in such harsh conditions. Thirty-seven finished in 2022.
There was no such upset in T4 (Modified Production SSV), but a friendly family rivalry got turned on its head. Here are the top ten finishers:
- Eryk Goczal, Energylandia Rally Team: 53H 10' 14''
- Rokas Baciuska, Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team: 53H 26' 58''
- Marek Goczal, Energylandia Rally Team: 53H 28' 29''
- Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli, South Racing Can-Am: 54H 17' 14''
- Gerard Farres Guell, South Racing Can-Am: 54H 59' 32''
- Bruno Conti de Oliviera, South Racing Can-Am: 56H 12' 35''
- Michal Goczal, Energylandia Rally Team: 57H 12' 53''
- Sebastian Guayasamin, South Racing Can-Am: 57H 57' 48''
- Pau Navarro, FN Speed Team: 58H 01' 14''
- Florent Vayssade, Sebastien Loeb Racing - Bardahl Team: 59H 21' 58''
While Michal Goczal was unable to achieve his dream of putting the entire family on the podium, his older brother Marek took third place, while Marek’s 18-year-old son Eryk won the class. Eryk is also the youngest Dakar entrant in the history of the race. Rokas Baciuska split the father and son by taking second place, living up to the Red Bull Can-Am Factory Team’s expectations.
Out of 45 T4 entries that started, 39 finished, another low attrition rate. In 2022, 44 entries completed the rally.
While the T3 and T4 classes enjoy at least a little bit of protection from the elements, quads don’t have that luxury. They also lack a co-driver to help with navigation and other duties. Here are the top 10, and only 10, quads to finish:
- Alexandre Giroud, Yamaha Racing - SMX - Drag’on: 56H 44' 30''
- Francisco Moreno Flores, Dragon: 57H 27' 41''
- Pablo Copetti, Del Amo Motorsports by Motul: 58H 37' 25”
- Juraj Varga, Varga Motorsport Team: 59H 35' 52''
- Giovanni Enrico, Enrico Racing Team: 61H 41' 41''
- Toni Vingut, Visit Sant Antoni - Ibiza: 65H 22' 32''
- Laisvydas Kancius, Story Racing S.R.O.: 76H 00' 23''
- Carlos Alejandro Verza, Verza Rally Team: 81H 35' 00''
- Marcelo Medieros, Taguatur Racing Team: 86H 47' 55''
- Alejandro Fantoni, Drag’on: 94H 47' 16''
As a more grueling class than T3 and T4, the quads suffered from a great deal of attrition, as only these 10 out of the original 18 competitors actually finished. That’s still better than 2022, when only seven quads completed the race.
It is interesting to see where penalties did, and did not, have an effect on the final standings. Alexandre Giroud won the class despite incurring a 15-minute penalty. Runner-up Francisco Moreno Flores ran a clean race with no penalties at all, but his time was still 43 minutes slower than Giroud’s, even after his penalty was applied.
Meanwhile, at the bottom of the class, Carlos Alejandro Verza was by far the slowest competitor who finished. Only he and Flores collected no penalties, however. This enabled him to finish in eighth place, ahead of Marcelo Medieros and Alejandro Fantoni, who received 18 and 10 hours of penalties respectively.