One of the most gruelling and challenging motorsport events in the world, the Dakar Rally pits the world’s greatest off-road drivers against amateur competitors, for whom the race is often the culmination of their dreams and who come to take up the challenge.
The 2014 edition will run from 5-18 January across Argentina, Bolivia and Chile and will include 34 Motul-supported entries covering all four main categories – bike, quad, car and truck. The 450 vehicles due to take the start of the rally will go on to cover 9000 kilometres in South America. New for 2014 is a separation for 40% of the total distance of motorcycles and quads from the cars and trucks. With safety as a driving force, five special stages have been marked out on completely separate routes covering around 2,000 kilometres of timed sections.
The Dakar is the world’s greatest rally raid adventure and there is no room for any mechanical weakness. Motul has proven technical reliability in this arena, and its technical partners will be using specially adapted lubricants, maintenance products and coolants from its Motorsport Line (Auto) and Factory Line (Moto), particularly from the 300V range for high performance and maximum protection. The terrain, climate and endurance conditions endured by the Dakar’s competitors can be punishing, and offer the international lubricant company an excellent living laboratory for its products. From the icy cold of the mountains to the searing heat of the desert, Motul’s products must withstand every extreme.
Headlining the Motul line-up is Team HRC which is returning to the Dakar with full Honda factory backing and aiming for victory in the motorcycle category. A five-time Dakar winner in the past, the Honda HRC squad will field a 5-strong international rider line up: 2013 World Cross Country Rally Champion Paulo Goncalves and Helder Rodriguez from Portugal, Briton Sam Sunderland who won the 2013 Merzouga Rally, Javier Pizzolito of Argentina and Spaniard Joan Barreda, who was particularly impressive in the 2013 Dakar event by winning four stages.
Also in the motorcycle class are the four riders of the Honda LATAM team, led by 13-time Women’s Trials World Champion and 10-time Women's Trials European Champion in Outdoor Motorcycle Trials, Laia Sanz of Spain. Jean de Azevedo of Brazil, Claudio Rodriguez of Chile and Frenchman Thierry Traccan will be riding Honda LATAM CRF 450s, and 3 other individual South American entries will also receive Motul’s support including Pablo Quintanilla, 2013 winner of Dakar Series - Desafío Inca. In the Quad class, Motul is backing the Uruguay Rally Team and Hernandez Racing from Peru.
The largest representation of Motul-supported teams is in the Cars category and will include Motul’s newest Dakar partner, Xtrem Plus. The team benefits from the support of Polaris USA, and the line-up includes the winner of the 2013 Dakar (category T3), William Alcaraz. However, the spotlight will also be on the totally revised EVR Racing Buggy of former FIA World Cup Champion Eric Vigouroux, hungry for victory after a relatively disappointing 2013.
No fewer than seven MD Rallye Sport entries have been submitted by the largest privateer team in the field, including a Springbock for Etienne Smulevici who will enter the Dakar for a record-breaking 32nd time. Driving an Optimus, Pascal Thomasse and Pascal Larroque will be keen to improve upon the 9th place finish they claimed last year. Two entries from Toyota Auto Body, a multiple past winner in the T2 category, round out Motul’s representation in Cars. Finally, in Trucks, the trio of vehicles from the Belarus MAZ factory team will be supported by Motul Russia.
The competition is likely to be intense even before the route is taken into consideration. Could you last the distance? Motul certain can!
Photo credits: Rally Zone