❏ The Dakar Rally is so absurd it
verges on greatness. It is the most
extreme off-road adventure in the
world, combining speed, danger and
fatigue, and only the most intrepid
riders even attempt it. The 2014 run-
ning of the rally started in Rosario,
Argentina, and covered almost 3000
miles en route to Valparaiso, Chile.
This year might have been the most
difficult ever for the quad riders.
Usually, the motorcycles, ATVs and
cars follow the same course, but this
time much of the course was sepa-
rated. The motorcycle riders want-
ed slower overall speeds, so their
sections were much more technical
than the car and truck sections. The
quads were grouped with the motor-
cycles, which left them with the most
difficult challenge of all. With the
more technical terrain designed for
two-wheelers, the quads were often
on the course longer than anyone
and working hard the whole time.
Often, a quad racer would come
into the finish with a few short hours
before the start of the next day’s
stage. On top of that, there were
several Marathon stages where the
rider has no outside mechanical
assistance at the end of the day. The
UTVs had challenges of their own.
They were grouped with the cars, but
were capable of half the top speed of
the multi-million-dollar factory rally
cars, so their days could also be
This year the results took on a
very different look, at least for the
ATVs. For the first time in years,
one of the Patronelli brothers didn’t
win. Argentinean Yamaha riders
Alejandro and Marco have won the
rally twice each, but this time it was
Chilean Ignacio Casale in front of the
standings on a Yamaha Raptor 700.
Marco fell victim to the treacherous
course early in the race and was
unable to proceed past stage three.
Can-Am rider Daniel Mazzucco was
the top man in the four-wheel-drive
class and eighth among all quads.
For the UTVs, it was a repeat of last
year. Frenchman William Alcaraz
drove his Polaris RZR to the top of this
class and was 40th overall among
cars—exactly where he placed in
2013 and 2012. His teammate, Nikolas
Duclos, was only 14 minutes behind
at the end of it all. For complete
results, go to www.dakar.com.
For most of the spectators, the rally
is the biggest thing to come into their
town or village in a very long time. The
course changes each year, so it can be
a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
You don’t have to go to Africa to find dunes.