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Peterhansel takes Dakar Rally crown for the 14th time
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 16 - 01 - 2021

Stephane Peterhansel, with co-driver Edouard Boulanger of the X-Raid Mini JCW team, won the 2021 Dakar Rally in the car category.
At the finish here, Kevin Benavides also wrote his name into the history books as the first South American winner of the bike category, whilst one of his countrymen, Argentinean Manuel Andújar, was victorious in the quad race.
As in 2019, the lightweight vehicle category was dominated by another Latino, Chilean "Chaleco" López. As for the 100% Kamaz colored podium in the truck race, its first step was conquered by Russian Dmitry Sotnikov.
Finally, in the Dakar Classic category, which for its first edition welcomed vehicles from the 20th century enrolled in a race for consistency, was won by Marc Douton behind the wheel of a Sunhill Buggy.
On completion of a race he drove masterfully, Peterhansel, taking part for the first year with Boulanger as his co-pilot, added a 14th victory to his roll of honor, tasting success 30 years after his first victory on a bike in 1991.
"It's still the same emotion for the 14th victory. Like I said, to win the Dakar is always really complicated. There are no easy victories in the Dakar. This one from the outside maybe looked easy, but it was not easy every day to manage the small gap over Nasser. There was a lot of pressure," Peterhansel said.
During his transfer by medical plane from Jeddah to France on Thursday, Jan. 14, Pierre Cherpin died from the injuries caused by his fall during the 7th stage from Hail to Sakaka on Jan. 10.
The rider crashed at km 178, around 1:00 p.m. Doctors found him unconscious when they reached him by helicopter. Taken to Sakaka's hospital, the medical report revealed a severe head trauma with loss of consciousness.
Urgently operated in the neurosurgery department, he had since then been kept in an induced coma, his condition having remained stable over the past few days. He was airlifted from Sakaka to Jeddah's hospital from where he was going to be transferred to Lille's hospital.
After 12 stages and more than 8,000 kilometers covered in total since Jan. 3, 193 vehicles (in comparison to the 286 starters) completed the 43rd edition of the Dakar, the second organized in Saudi Arabia.
The rally's final general standings include 63 bikes, 11 quads, 49 cars, 41 lightweight vehicles and 29 trucks. What's more, 19 competitors who had to withdrawn from the competition prematurely took advantage of the Dakar Experience formula, allowing them to continue the adventure to Jeddah.
The closing ceremony, which was held in King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, and attended by Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Abdullah Al-Faisal, chairman of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation (SAMF), witnessed the crowning of the heroic contestants in this rally of various categories.
On this occasion, the Minister of Sports, said in a press statement: "First, I extend my sincere thanks and gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and to Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman for the great and unlimited support that the sports sector in the Kingdom enjoys at all levels and levels, which enabled us to organize and hold many international sporting events in the beloved land of the Kingdom."
The Saudi Dakar Rally 2021 race, was held for the second time in the Kingdom for a period of 13 days, from Jan. 3 to 15, and organized by the Ministry of Sports, in coordination with the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation.
Bahrain Raid Xtreme driver, Nani Roma, competing in his 25th Dakar, completed the final stage in 11th place with a time of 02:27:21, +9:48 behind the leader. This was enough to secure 5th place overall, holding his lead over sixth place Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi of Abu Dhabi Racing by +6:43.
The 43rd edition of the Dakar Rally was Bahrain Raid Xtreme's debut, with Roma's result the best performance by any new team on its maiden Dakar.
Commenting from the finish line in Jeddah, BRX driver Roma, who drove the No. 311 Hunter, said: "We have secured fifth position overall and have shown we have built a really strong car, with a lot of potential. We are just at the beginning of our journey.
"We have done an incredible job, even more so in the current covid situation. There have been a lot of challenges over the past few months, but the team have continued to believe the whole time.
"Now it is time to analyze everything and come back even stronger next year. Alex and I are really happy, and we just want to say a big thank you to the whole team — all of the mechanics and everyone else working behind the scenes to get us here to the finish line. They have done an amazing job and it's been a pleasure to work with everyone." — SG

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