View Full Version : BMWs in Dakar Rally

01-05-2009, 06:31 PM
As you may know, last year's Dakar rally was cancelled at the last minute due to terrorist activity in the African desert country of Mauritania. Assuming the situation would not be any better this year, the event is being held in Argentina and Chile. The route starts and ends in Buenos Aires and covers 6,000 miles including 3,500 miles of "special stages" - the timed sections on which the event is scored. The 543 listed starters includes 195 "cars" (mostly SUV-sized or dune buggys), 235 "motos" (motorcycles), 20 "quads" (ATVs), and 84 trucks (huge transporters that also act as service vehicles for the other entrants. The cars include factory entries from Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, and Nissan. About ten BMWs (mostly X3s with diesel power) are entered and several are among the favorites to win. American Indy Car and NASCAR driver Robby Gordon is entered with a Hummer. Note that these cars have about as much to do with their production counterparts as Jimmy Johnson's NASCAR Monte Carlo has to do with what you can buy at your local Chevy dealer.
Gordon's Hummer has a Corvette Z06-based, mid-mounted engine. Most of the motorcycles are Austrian-made KTMs. A couple of BMWs are competing.

The Versus television network is showing half-hour daily recaps of the previous day's stage. They are on at 3:30 pm and repeated at 6:30 pm.

SPOILER ALERT: Noteworthy news after the first 3 days: Guerlain Chicherit of France was leading through several checkpoints with his BMW the first day, but suffered mechanical problems that brought him into the finish 7-hours behind the winning X3 of Nasser Al Attiyah of Qatar. Robby Gordon chose to drive convervatively and finished in 17th place, 14-minutes behind. Factory VW Touaregs held positions 2 (WRC driver Carlos Sainz of Spain), 3 and 4 (American Mark Miller). Day Two had a short 147-mile stage that was won by Sainz. Al Attiyah was 9th (6 1/2 minutes behind), Gordon 10th (9 1/2 behind), and Chicherit had his BMW running again to finish 15th. That moved him up to 140th place among the cars. The leading BMW this day was Argentine Orlando Terranova in 8th place.
If you saw the coverage you know how tough the deep sand was on part of the route.
Day Three (today) was another victory for Al Attiyah's BMW, but his margin over Sainz was only 35 seconds so he still trails the Spaniard by 3 minutes 40 seconds. Terranova (BMW) was 7th and lies 7th overall. Gordon was 10th again and is 9th overall, and Chicherit (BMW) was 9th and has moved up to 92nd overall, but still over 7 hours behind the leader.

01-05-2009, 06:44 PM
I thought you sold the M3????

01-06-2009, 03:15 PM
I did. Why do you ask?

01-06-2009, 06:35 PM
Carlos Sainz (VW Touareg) won the 285-mile stage in 3 hours, 42 minutes, and 57 seconds and Nasser Al Attiyah (BMW X3) was only 6 seconds slower! So after almost 13-hours of racing so far, Al Attiyah trails Sainz by 3 minutes, 46 seconds. American Mark Miller (VW) was fourth today and lies 6th overall. Orlando Terranova was 7th again and stayed in 7th overall (24 minutes behind), and Robby Gordon (Hummer) repeated his 10th place in class to remain in 9th overall (46 minutes behind). Guerlain Chicherit (BMW X3) was 9th today and continues his climb back up the standings, now lying 54th overall.

American Jonah Street (KTM) was 3rd today in the Moto class and is 2nd overall, 42 mintues behind the leader Marc Coma of Spain. The best placed BMW motorcycle is 59th overall.

01-07-2009, 06:15 PM
Yesterday's overall leader Carlos Sainz has flipped his VW Touareg in the sand dunes and finished today's 314-mile special stage in 8th place, 15 minutes behind his winning teammate Giniel DeVilliers of South Africa. Second today was yet another factory VW, German Dieter Depping. Robby Gordon (Hummer) was 3rd today and that puts him in 7th place overall. Nasser Al Attiyah (BMW X3) finished 5 minutes behind the winner. That was good for 4th, but he is back in first place overall, 2 minutes, 24 seconds ahead of de Villiers. Other stage results include Mark Miller (VW) 5th, Guerlain Chicherit (BMW) 10th, and Orlando Terranove (BMW) 14th. Chicherit has moved up to 20th overall after ending the first day in the 168th position.

American Jonah Street (KTM) won the bike class today and now lies in 2nd place overall to Spain's Marc Coma who suffered a flat tire today.

01-09-2009, 10:01 AM
Apparently the Dakar leading BMW X3 of Nasser Al-Attiyah was suffering overheating problems at the end of Day 5. Despite attempts to cure the problem during the overnight stop, the overheating re-appeared early on Day 6 (Thursday). Al-Attiyah and his navigator, Sweden's Tina Thoerner (not the singer Tina Turner), chose to leave the route that was strewn with sand dunes and drive a longer, but easier route to the stage finish. This was strictly against the rules and the team was disqualified from the event.

Factory VW Touaregs were the top three finishers of the stage (De Villiers, Miller, and Sainz) and now hold the top three positions for the overall event (De Villiers, Sainz and Miller). Robby Gordon's Hummer was 8th on Thursday, 32 minutes slower than De Villiers, and is now 6th overall. This leaves Orlando Terranova (8th overall) and Dutchman Rene Kuipers (9th overall) as the best BMWs. Guerlain Chicherit only placed 49th on today's stage and is now 25th overall.

Another favorite for the overall win, Frenchman Luc Alphand (Mitsubishi) has dropped out of the event due to his navigator's illness. Alphand is an ex-World Cup Skiing champion.

01-09-2009, 10:33 PM
Dakar officials realized that Thursday's terrain was a real problem for most of the team. It was huge sand dunes in some areas and deep mud in others. Since today's route offered more of the same, they shortened the special stage from 260 to 151 miles and by-passed some of the more difficult terrain. If you have seen any of the last couple of days coverage on Versus, you know how tough it is.

Carlos Sainz lead team mate Mark Miller to a 1-2 VW victory today. Robby Gordon drove his Chevy V8-powered Hummer to a 3rd place finish. Thus the only two Americans among the 195 drivers that started the event in cars made the podium today. Sainz reclaimed the overall lead from his other team mate De Villiers who was 6th today. Rene Chicherit (BMW X3) resumed his climb up the standings with a 5th place. He now stands 19th overall. The highest placed BMW in the overall standings continues to be Argentine Orlando Terranova who was 27th today, an hour and 22 minutes behind Sainz. Terranova now stands 8th as the Dakar enters Chile for a few days.

American Jonah Street was 8th in the motorcycle class and is still in 2nd place overall, 51 minutes behind the leader Marc Coma of Spain.

01-11-2009, 09:10 AM
Saturday was a rest day in Valparaiso, Chile. Surely there was no rest for the mechanics.
Apparently Jonah Street, one of two Americans that started among the original 235 motorcyles, was assessed a 15-minute penalty for something on Stage 7. He now lies 3rd overall, an hour and 6 minutes behind leader Marc Coma. Through the first 7 days, Coma has put in 26 hours of racing on the special stages. The highest ranked BMW motorcycle is in 43rd position.

There are 141 of 235 motorcycles still in the event, 115 of 195 cars, 15 of 29 Quads, and 19 of 84 trucks.

01-12-2009, 05:48 PM
Day 8 (Sunday) had a relatively short 180-mile special stage that crossed some of Chile's Atacama Desert. Factory VWs swept the podium (Sainz, Depping, and Mark Miller). Guerlain Chicherit (X3) was 6th and the top BMW. Robby Gordon (Hummer) was stuck against a rock for a while and ended up 14th, 38 minutes behind Sainz.

Day 9's 279-mile stage was shortened by 6-miles due to extremely soft sand near the end. Sainz and Miller were first and second, followed by Gordon 2 minutes behind. Two BMWs put in a good showing with Orlando Terranova 4th and Leonoid Novitskiy 6th. Chicherit had a bad day, coming in 28th place, almost 2 hours behind the Sainz's winning 5:56:08. In the overall standings Sainz and Miller are 1-2, and Gordon remains in 5th. Terranova is 8th and the next best BMW is Rene Kuipers in 9th.

Unfortunately American Jonah Street, whose KTM motorcyle won the 5th stage, has decided to withdraw from the Dakar due to a painful wrist injury.

01-13-2009, 06:50 PM
The scheduled special stage of 416-miles was shortened to 295-miles as fog held up the start for several hours. Helicopters, which carry the Dakar officials and emergency medical personnel, are necessary for the safe conduct of the event. I guess "safe" is a relative term when talking about the Dakar. Today's route started and ended in the Chilean town of Copiapo, making a big loop through the Atacama Desert. They say it hasn't rained there for 3-years.

After 5 1/2 hours of racing, Carlos Sainz (VW) won his fifth stage of the Dakar, but only 21-seconds faster than Robby Gordon (Hummer). I understand the Hummer is using the same V-8 engine as the American Le Mans Series Corvettes. American Mark Miller's VW was 3rd followed by the BMW X3 of Guerlain Chicherit. Argentine Orlando Terranova, with the leading BMW after yesterday's stage, had the fastest time through the first two checkpoints, but had a bad rollover 110 miles into the stage. Neither the driver nor navigator, Alain Guehennec (France) were seriously injured, but the X3 was determined to be too damaged to be towed in and fixed.

This leaves Rene Kuiper's X3 as the leading BMW in the overall standings. He is 8th, over 2 hours behind the 7th place car. Chicherit is now 13th after being 168th at the end of Day 1.

It has just been announced that tomorrow's stage 11 has been cancelled due to the forecast fog. The competitors will caravan as a group from Copiapo across the Andes to Fiambalo, Argentina.

01-15-2009, 06:15 PM
After yesterday's cancelled stage, the Dakar picked up with a short, but very difficult timed stage of 157-miles through white sand dunes. The competitors then had a 262-mile transit to the town of La Rioja. The big news is the retirement of Spainard Carlos Sainz. The ex-World Rally Championship star had his Volkswagen Touareg fall into a ravine and his navigator, Frenchman Michel Perin, suffered an injured shoulder. Sainz had a 27-minute lead at the start of the day and it was expected that he would drive convervatively to avoid this type of incident. Also, the sole remaining factory Mitsubishi of Spainard Nani Roma was stopped part way through the stage with mechanical ills. Roma was in 4th overall at the start of the day.

The stage was won by Giniel De Villiers (VW) by 16 minutes over team mate Mark Miller (VW), and Robby Gordon (Hummer) was a further 9 minutes back in 3rd. These three are now in the same positions in the overall standings. Fourth today was Dieter Depping (VW), followed by Leonoid Novitskiy (BMW). They are now 6th and 8th overall. Guerlain Chicherit (BMW) was 10th today and is now 9th overall.

Friday morning update: Nani Roma came in 7 hours after the leader and that dropped him to 6th overall. This drops the BMWs of Novitskiy and Chicherit to 9th and 11th overall.

01-16-2009, 05:24 PM
The long timed stage scheduled for today (338-miles) needed to be shortened to 136 miles due to portions of the route being impassable because of rains. The three factory VWs of De Villiers, Miller and Depping chose to run together so they could help each other in case of trouble. They were 4th, 8th, and 9th on today's stage, but there were no changes in the overall standings among the top 13 cars.

Nani Roma (Mitsubishi), who lost 7-hours yesterday and dropped from 4th to 6th, was the winner today followed by the Nissan of Krzysztof Holowczyc of Poland (duh!). Guerlain Chicherit and Leonoid Novitskiy were 3rd and 5th in their BMWs. Robby Gordon's Hummer was 16th but he only lost 9 additional minutes to the lead and is over 4-hours ahead of the 4th place Nissan in the overall standings.

01-17-2009, 06:11 PM
Today's final stage of 492-miles had a relatively short timed section of 141-miles over some of the dirt roads used on the Argentine round of the World Rally Championship. In contrast to the other special stages, the first 24 cars all finished within 20 minutes of the winning VW Touareg of Giniel De Villers (South Africa). Second place today was Leonoid Novitskiy in his BMW X3, only two seconds slower than De Villiers. Guerlain Chicherit's BMW was fifth, followed by Mark Miller (VW) and Rene Kuipers (BMW). Robby Gordon was 23rd, 19 minutues behind due to the need to change a flat tire.

This did not affect the final overall standings which saw the only two Americans in the starting field of 195 finish 2nd and 3rd. Two BMWs made the top 10, but a couple of non-finishing BMWs (Al-Attiyah and Terranova) impressed with their speed on several stages.
In all, 90 cars finished the event. De Villiers total race time over 13 stages was 48-hours and 10-minutes. That was over 17 hours less than the 10th place car.

Unofficial final standings (cars):

Pos. N° Name Make Time Variation Penalty

2 308 MILLER (USA)
PITCHFORD (ZAF) VOLKSWAGEN 48:19:56 00:08:59

3 309 GORDON (USA)
GRIDER (USA) HUMMER 49:57:12 01:46:15

EVANS (GBR) NISSAN 54:15:31 06:04:34

FORTIN (BEL) NISSAN 54:48:46 06:37:49



TYUPENKIN (RUS) BMW 61:26:10 13:15:13

BAUMEL (FRA) BMW 63:00:46 14:49:49 02:00:00

10 304 ROMA (ESP)
CRUZ SENRA (ESP) MITSUBISHI 65:38:43 17:27:46

01-17-2009, 06:38 PM

Thanks very much for these reports!

Alan :tongue: