The 2013 Dakar Rally is currently underway in South America as racers from all over the world with all sorts of off-road vehicles (dirt bikes, quads, trucks, buggies, et al) battle the natural and physical elements in Peru, Argentina and Chile. The 35th running of Dakar is being dubbed “The Great Escape” but has nothing to do with WWII or Hollywood, but has enough drama and suspense it could very well be its own film. The race, in its fifth season on the South American continent, takes racers through some of the world’s most challenging desert and mountainous terrain from the January 5 to January 20th (sans the must needed rest day on the 13th). When it comes to off-road endurance racing, there may be no bigger stage than Dakar.
The Can-Am off-road racing family is taking part in this year’s Dakar Rally and doing quite well in its respective class categories. Despite two early withdrawals (exits), several Can-Am ATV and side-by-side vehicle pilots remain in the race are in good position to win their class. Today, the racers are battling stage six that takes them from Arica, Peru, into Calama, Chile and the brutal-but-magnificent Atacama Desert. After five stages, we have a better idea of where the Can-Am racers sit heading into today’s action. Thanks to updates from Juan Pablo Rodriguez, Press Team Nextel Huawei by Can-Am. In the ATV (Quad) 4×4 category, all eyes are on Sebastián Palma, who finished stage five in sixth. That impressive finish also placed him in sixth overall in the quad segment (according to the Dakar rider rankings page).
Sebastián Palma, Nextel Huawei Team by Can-Am, image by Dakar.com.
Palma is the current 4×4 class leader (prior to stage 6) and had held roughly a 30 minute advantage over the second-place rider, Claudio Clavigliasso, who finished eighth in the stage was in 11th in the quad ranks after five stages. Barry Cruces (Chile) finished ninth in stage five and improved four spots in the overall ranking aboard his Can-Am Renegade ATV. Fellow Chilean Can-Am racer Rodrigo Ramirez finished the stage in 12th to climb to 19th in the overall quad rankings and fifth in the 4×4 segment. Three other Can-Am Renegade racers are also still in the mix after five stages of action. Marcelo Fernandez (Argentina) Ricardo Vinet (Chile) and Diego Martínez (Bolivia) are trying to make up ground today.
In the side-by-side class (under the Car category header), Reinaldo Varela, a Brazilian champion, of his country, finished second in the category. Behind him came Pablo Donoso. Can-Am Commander pilot Francisco Poncho Lopez took the fifth spot in the category. Three of the four Can-Am Commander side-by-side vehicles in the Dakar were in the top five of the category after stage five: Lopez (second), Varela (third) and Pablo Donoso (fourth).
Francisco Lopez Balart of Chile and co-pilot Sebastian Scholz Vergnolle of Argentina form the No. 393 Team Nextel Huawei by Can-Am Commander team, which was second in the sub-category of the Car division after five stages of the 2013 Dakar. (image courtesy of Team Sudamerica Facebook)
To follow the stage 6 racing action live, visit the Dakar LIVE link or one of these social media feedsI: