Dakar: final with a podium among the Argentine participants

The 44th edition of the Dakar Rally came to an end today and in its two main categories it delivered two champions who already knew glory: the British Sam Sunderland (GasGas KTM) in motorcycles and the Qatari Nasser Al Attiyah (Toyota Gazoo Racing) in cars.

Sunderland, 32, winner in 2017 on the roads of Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay, inherited the throne from Salta Kevin Benavides (Red Bull KTM), who said goodbye today with an 11th place in the twelfth stage that united the Arab cities of Bisha and Jeddah.

The Briton secured his second crown in the most demanding motor competition in the world with eighth place in the last 164-kilometre special, which he completed with a difference of 3:25 over his winner, Chilean Pablo Quintanilla (Monster Energy Honda).

In the general classification of the category, the GasGas rider -the team in which he made his debut this year after six seasons at Red Bull KTM- accumulated a time of 38:47:30 and was in the lead with a meager advantage of 3:27 over Quintanilla, who for the third time occupied the podium, since he was third in 2016 and second in 2020.

Kevin Benavides could not fulfill the dream of retaining the title.

Third place in the bike division went to Austrian Matthias Walkner, 2018 champion and Kevin Benavides’ teammate at Red Bull KTM.

The Argentine, who finished in 101st place overall, gave up all his chances on Wednesday, when he had to abandon the tenth stage due to a broken engine when he was occupying an expectant 5th place at 10:22 from the lead.

The next day, the man from Salta was able to rejoin the competition and had the pleasure of obtaining his first and only partial victory in the Dakar 2022, which was his sixth personal experience.

Benavides, 33, was aiming to retain the title at a different make, after winning the title last year with Honda. His younger brother Luciano, 26, was also unable to meet his goal of achieving his best ever performance, which remains the sixth step taken in 2020 when the rally landed in Saudi Arabia.

After entering 6th in today’s stage, the factory Husqvarna rider finished 13th. in the general classification, a position that represents his third best result, since he was also 9th in 2019. In his other two participations (2018 and 2021) he was unable to finish the race.

Quads: an Argentine was 2nd

The Argentine rookie Francisco Moreno (Yamaha) prevailed today in the twelfth and final stage of the Dakar Rally, earning him the runner-up position in the quad category, behind Frenchman Alexandre Giroud. The man from Mendoza covered the 164 timed kilometers between the cities of Bisha and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in 2:14:13, ahead of Pole Kamil Wisniewski (Yamaha) and Brazilian Marcelo Medeiro (Yamaha).

In the general classification, Moreno finished in 2nd place with a difference of 2:21:11 in relation to Giroud (Yamaha Racing SMX Drag’on), a clear favorite since the second week of competition due to the elimination of other contenders for the title.

The Argentine Manuel Andújar, who defended the crown, left the rally in the sixth stage due to an accident and the Cordovan representative of the United States Pablo Copetti was left without a chance in the tenth due to a mechanical failure.

Some mechanical problem stopped the continuity of the “Pato” Silva (MAN) in trucks.

Trucks: Silva could not

On the last day of the Dakar Rally, Juan Manuel Silva from Chaco was unable to start with his MAN truck from the Puma Energy Rally Team, due to an engine problem, which did not allow him to complete the competition together with his navigators, the Argentine Carlos Mel Banfi and the Spanish Pau Navarro.

Silva provided a message on social media:

Cars: Al-Attiyah, hegemonic

In cars, the Qatari Al-Attiyah conquered his fourth Dakar after the editions won in 2011, 2015 and 2019 in South America.

Winner of the prologue and a stage, the Qatari finished on top of the podium ahead of Frenchman Sebastien Loeb (Prodrive), at 27 minutes and 46 seconds, and Saudi Yazeed Al-Rajhi (Toyota), at 1 hour 1 minute and 13 seconds.

Leader of the general classification from the first stage, Al-Attiyah managed to hold a 48-minute lead before slowing down to manage the advantage in the final stages.

Together with the French co-driver Mathieu Baumel, the 51-year-old Qatari, also an Olympic medalist in the men’s Skeet shooting event in London 2012, completed his 18th personal Dakar, which makes him a legend for the organization.

The same label is enjoyed by the Argentine Orlando Terranova (Prodrive), who finished in 4th place in the cars with a difference of 1:27:23 compared to the champion.

The 42-year-old from Mendoza, 6th in the last stage, achieved his best position in the 16 editions disputed. He had been 5th in 2013 and 2014.

The other Argentines participating in the category were classified as follows: Sebastián Halpern (Mini), 8th; Lucio Álvarez (Overdrive Toyota), 18th and Juan Cruz Yacopini (Overdrive Toyota), 20th.

For the first time, the Dakar was part this year of the World Rally Raid Championships of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM).

The 2022 season will continue with the rallies in Abu Dhabi in March, Kazakhstan in April, Andalusia in June and Morocco in October. (Telam).

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