The MINI of Frenchmen Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret claimed outright victory in the 2013 Dakar Rally at the weekend, repeating their 2012 win for the German X-raid Team in the Countryman-based MINI ALL4 Racing model.
The win was Peterhansel’s 11th class victory in the notorious event - his fifth Auto category win after six earlier crowns on two wheels.
Second outright was the Toyota HiLux of 2009-winner Giniel De Villiers and his co-driver Dirk von Zitzewitz, crossing the line with an overall time just 42 minutes shy of Peterhansel’s 38:32:39 winning figure.
Peterhansel’s X-raid teammates Leonid Novistkiy/Konstantin Zhiltskov rounded off the outright podium with an overall time 1 hour, 28 minutes behind Peterhansel - while further X-raid teammates Juan (Nani) Roma/Michel Perin crossed the finish just 8 minutes later to claim fourth.
The top-placed Australian driver to complete the 8600km event between Peru, Argentina and Chile was Geoff Olholm, who teamed with UK co-driver Jonathan Aston to finish 11th in the Auto category, with their HiLux crossing the line 4:46:13 behind Peterhansel.
Olholm finished just 25 seconds behind the tenth-in-class Argentinian pairing of Lucio Alvarez and Bernardo Graue.
Sydney-based team Isuzu Motorsports ended their 2013 Dakar assault with mixed results, with the historic pairing of Bruce Garland and Harry Suzuki forced to retire their 2012 Isuzu D-MAX on Day 12 with engine troubles caused by polluted fuel.
Garland and Suzuki had hoped to better their career-best 11th outright placing in the 2009 event with their first return since crashing out in 2011, having missed the 2012 event due to Garland requiring quintuple heart bypass surgery.
Isuzu Motorsports’ second D-MAX entry of Dakar rookie Adrian Di Lallo and experienced co-driver Steve Riley went on to finish the race 29th in the Auto category, and 38th outright with a time of 57:01:00.
This was not the first impressive result for Di Lallo and Riley’s D-MAX - it being the very same vehicle that secured Garland and Suzuki’s 11th outright result in 2009.
Speaking with TMR via Twitter, an Isuzu Motorsports spokesperson has suggested the team “will return (to Dakar) with the mighty D-MAX.”
Of the ten other Australians to enter the 2013 Dakar in the Moto, Quad and Truck categories, eight managed to complete the race.
Rod Faggotter managed 14th place in the Moto class, finishing in 45:54:58 ahead of Ben Grabham in 15th, Warren Strange in 24th, Todd Smith in 34th, Simon Pavey in 59th, and Matt Fish in 111th.
Paul Smith finished 7th in the Quad category with an overall time of 55:28:51, but his race was highlighted by a category-fastest time on Stage 11 - the first stage win by an Australian since 2006.
Isuzu Motorsports service crewmember Richard Hayes teamed up with Spanish drivers Alex Aguirregaviria and Jordi Comallonga in the Truck category, with their MAN finishing 54th in class with a time of 122:35:28.
Top 10 Overall Auto Placings
Stephane Peterhansel / Jean Paul Cottret MINI 38:32:39
Giniel de Villiers / Dirk von Zitzewitz Toyota HiLux +00:42:22
Leonid Novistkiy / Konstantin Zhiltskov MINI +01:28:22
Juan (Nani) Roma / Michel Perin MINI +01:36:43
Orlando Terranova / Paulo Fiuza BMW X3 CC +01:49:10
Carlos Sousa / Miguel Ramalho Great Wall +02:38:16
Ronan Chabot / Gilles Pillot SMG Buggy +03:18:05
Guerlain Chicherit / Jean-Pierre Garcin SMG Buggy +03:27:44
Pascal Thomasse / Pascal Larroque Buggy MD +04:35:32
Lucio Alvarez / Bernardo Graue Toyota HiLux +04:45:48