Dakar 2020: Cat and mouse games in Saudi Arabia conclude with BFGoodrich®’s 16th Dakar victory!
After the rocky trails, gorges and mountainous scenery visited in the course of Week 1, the second half of the 2020 Dakar switched to significantly sandier terrain in southeast Saudi Arabia, near the country’s so-called Empty Quarter.
Despite the change of backdrops, the competition proved just as fierce and close as it had been since the rally’s start on January 5 when the crews and riders embarked on this year’s 7,856-kilometer route which included 5,097km divided into 12 competitive sections.
The longest of these was supposed to have been Stage 10, this year’s ‘marathon’ leg (534km), but it was halted 190km short of the scheduled finish line due to a sandstorm.
While Stéphane Peterhansel and Carlos Sainz traded most of Week 2’s stage victories, local hero Yazeed Al-Rajhi fought back to finish fourth in this year’s final classification, while ex-F1 star and Dakar rookie Fernando Alonso clawed his way back from 48th overall after Day 2 to 13th at the checkered flag, aided by several strong performances.
Sainz ended up topping the ‘car’ order for the third time, tailed by Nasser Al-Attiyah (2nd) and Peterhansel (3rd) who never gave up the chase. This year’s top three were blanketed by less than 10 minutes!
In the SSV class, promising Americans Blade Hildebrand and Mitchell Guthrie (OT3) posted two fastest times each before being sidelined by engine trouble. They were able to continue under the ‘Dakar Experience’ ruling, however, and that allowed them to continue their apprenticeship of the event. They were both swift to praise their BFGoodrich® Mud Terrain tires in post-race interviews.
Just a year after the BFGoodrich® Mud Terrain’s launch, two from three SSV runners chose this new tire to contest the 2020 Dakar, compared with just two vehicles in 2019.
Winners of the T2 class were Christian Lavieille/Jean-Pierre Garcin who once again took the trophy on BFGoodrich® Mud Terrain KM3s, so big congratulations to them!
The last day of the 2020 Dakar (January 17) saw competitors follow up the final proper stage with several laps of the ‘Qiddiya Grand Prix’ circuit, a show which also counted towards the official classification.
The common denominator between all these Dakar champions was their BFGoodrich® tires which had to contend with completely new, extremely punishing terrain that was very different from what competitors had become accustomed to in South America.
“It was a fresh challenge for us, but that gave us a chance us to push back our limits and prepare for the Dakars to come,” commented Jerome Hancart, Technical Manager of BFGoodrich®’s Cross-Country Rally Program. “The Dakar is the perfect proving ground to put our tires through their paces in the most extreme conditions imaginable.”
“We were delighted to see that BFGoodrich® runners monopolized the podium in the car class again this year,” added Sandrine Combeaux, BFGoodrich®’s Marketing Manager for Southern Europe. “It takes our score to 16 Dakar wins in all and we couldn’t have wished for a better way to kick off the brand’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2020. It’s going to be a big year for us and the Dakar Rally provides us with a valuable lever to reach out to the 4x4 market.”
The 2020 Dakar Rally – a huge challenge for competitors and BFGoodrich® tires alike!
The 2020 motorsport season got off to a flying start on January 5 when the 342 car, motorcycle, quad, truck and SSV entries got their first taste of the first Dakar to be hosted by Saudi Arabia.
This year’s menu features an overall distance of 7,800 kilometres divided into 12 stages totalling 5,097km of sand, dunes, rocky trails, sharp stones, camel grass, thorn bushes and twisty gorges.
Navigation skills have already been put to a tough test, while the Dakar regulars have been familiarising themselves with the event’s new venue which has led the drivers to adapt their respective styles.
It’s also been a punishing first week for our tires which have had to cope with fast, rocky portions over which a switch to higher pressures seemed to prove more efficient.
The first three days clearly unsettled numerous competitors as they came to terms with the surprises thrown at them by the terrain. The early pace-setters were effectively less well known than the likes of Al-Attiyah, Sainz, Peterhansel and De Villiers, with Lithuania’s Zala and Domzala topping the first stage’s car and SSV orders respectively. Argentina’s Terranova showed well, too.
The local experts also hit the ground running, with both Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi and Saoudian Yazeed Al Rajhi figuring inside the provisional top 10.
Meanwhile, all three Red Bull Junior (OT3) runners have succeeded in posting fastest times in the SSV class on BFGoodrich® rubber, a performance the team’s two young American Dakar rookies and their ‘coach’ Desprès are understandably proud of!
Many competitors and followers were surprised by the cold Saudi Arabian desert nights which saw the thermometer dip to freezing point in the Neom area, prompting competitors and followers alike to don their parkas, woolly hats and scarves on several occasions. The region’s camels even found themselves grazing in snow after the rally had been through.
At the well-earned Rest Day on Saturday, January 11, after completing 2,374 competitive kilometres, competitors could be heard describing how they had been won over by the breath-taking scenery, especially in the Al-Ula region, ancestral home of the Nabataeans and famous for its enormous, ochre-hued, rounded rocks.
For BFGoodrich®, the first six days proved particularly gruelling over the Saudi Arabian terrain which has been much harder than in recent years, leading to a high number of punctures, a phenomenon the firm’s technical experts have already started to address ahead of 2021.
Meanwhile, the BFGoodrich® Service Center has handled 50 percent more tires than at the same point last year, since 80 percent of the cars are competing on BFGoodrich® tires compared with two-thirds in 2019, while two SSV runners in three have chosen the American brand’s rubber this time around, compared with just two 12 months ago.
The crews took advantage of the Rest Day to relate their adventures to the media. Many of them also found time for a relaxing massage, while their mechanics refettled their respective vehicles ahead of the final week. The day was also a chance to catch up with families and post stories on social media.
The German who was able to contest the Dakar for the first time in in 2018 thanks to backing from BFGoodrich® is hoping to do better than two years ago when he was eliminated after Stage 6. “This is much more like the early Dakars that were held in Africa. We’ve got stages of more than 300km back on the menu!”
This year’s longest stage effectively exceeds 450km, while the fortnight’s longest legs exceed 800km.
With one week and 4,100 kilometres remaining (including 2,700km of against-the-clock action), Sainz, Al-Attiyah and Peterhansel have emerged as the front-runners in the fight for this year’s car victory, while the top five SSV runners – Currie, Lopez Contardo, Kariakin, Hinojo Lopez and Rautenbach – are covered by a less than a minute!
Survivors will need to take doubly care in the course of the event’s second half which is likely to be just as demanding as the first, but BFGoodrich® has a real chance of scoring its 16th Dakar victory.
BFGoodrich® targeting a 16th Dakar win to kick off its 150th anniversary celebrations
The new year marks the beginning of exciting new chapters in the histories of both BFGoodrich®, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2020, and the Dakar Rally which has switched to a new arena in the Middle East after its earlier adventures in Africa and South America.
The 2020 event runs from Jeddah to Qiddiya in Saudi Arabia from January 5 to 17 and proposes an overall distance of 7,856 kilometres divided into 12 stages totalling 5,097km.
The entry list includes previous Dakar victors Nani Roma (#301), Stephane Peterhansel (#302), Carlos Sainz (#305) and last January’s winner Nasser Al-Attiyah (#300), all of whom are competing on BFGoodrich® rubber.
Also competing on the American firm’s tires is two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso who is getting his first taste of the event’s trademark dunes and rocky trails, while multiple Dakar bike winner Cyril Despres has teamed up with explorer/adventurer Mike Horn in a vehicle equipped with BFGoodrich® Baja tires!
To spice up the navigation, the roadbook for six of the stages will be handed out just 15 minutes before each crew’s start time.
Another feature of the 2020 Dakar is the growing popularity of the class for side-by-side vehicles (UTVs), for which BFGoodrich® has developed the Mud Terrain KM3 UTV. After being put through its paces for the first time on the world-famous cross-country rally in 2019, it is the chosen fitment this time around for more than 60 percent of the side-by-side field.
The BFGoodrich® Service Center will be on hand at overnight halts to provide competitors with a daily support service, from 3pm until 11pm. Manned by 11 technicians, it is expected to fit and remove more than 2,000 tires in the course of the fortnight-long ordeal.
To finetune their respective strategies for the event’s traditional cocktail of sand, dirt and sharp stones, crews using BFGoodrich® tires can choose between soft- and medium-compound tires as the American brand targets its 16th Dakar success.
We wish all those competing the very best of luck!
DAKAR 2020 : BFGoodrich is proud to present you the RedBull Off-Road Junior Team USA !
Three youngs Americains : Mitch Guthrie Jr. (23yo, centrer), Blade Hildebrand (21yo, left) et Seth Quintero (17yo, right) will race in different off-road championship all over the World with BFGoodrich tyres !
Mitch Guthrie Jr. and Blade Hildebrand will launch theirself into their first Dakar on the 5th of January with their SxS ! Keep you eyes opened, it will be rad !
DAKAR 2020: Technical check!
Last week at Le Castellet, the technical check took place. It was the last effort before the departure to Saudi Arabia. Teams presented their vehicles to Dakar Organization: stickers were stucking, technical elements were validated, etc… And we have seen a lot of BFGoodrich tyres… Drivers and BFGoodrich brand are ready for a new adventure!
Stay tuned for more information…
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DAKAR 2020: Let’s go for a new adventure!
BFGoodrich is proud to announce officially its participation as official tyre supplier of the Dakar 2020.
For the 1st Edition in Saudi Arabia, BFGoodrich tyres will have to face news territories, but always dunes, rocks, etc... From Jeddah to Qiddiyah, drivers will race 7800km through 12 stages.
For this new chapter, you cannot imagine how news rules will challenge drivers. You are wondering: “why?” Just because for some stages of the rally raid, the roadbook of the day will be given only few minutes before the start… To come back to the essence of the most extreme rally raid in the world!
BFGoodrich tyres KDR2+, KM3 and KM3 SSV are ready to perform!
More information to come… Stay tuned!
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