Dakar – Quad Edition

2013 saw some changes to the entry list for the quad category. Last years winner, Alejandro Patronelli was notably absent from the list, his brother Marcos, (who has been a runner up twice as well as the winner in 2010) also initially choosing not to race, accepted a last minute offer off Yamaha Argentina to compete. Patronelli was joined on the starters list again by two of last years top 5 finishers – Tomas Maffei and Ignacio Casale – as well as genuine Dakar contenders Lukasz Laskawiec and Rafal Sonik, who were both excluded from the 2012 Dakar on technical grounds.


Adding to the mix of the Yamaha Raptor 700 mounted Argentinean, Chilean and Polish riders were some new threats. Dutch born, Dubai based Sebastian Husseini – the 7 time UAE Desert Challenge winner was attempting his first Dakar on a Honda TRX700XX; Peru’s hopes rested on the shoulders of Yamaha’s Ignacio Flores Seminario and Dakar Challenge Quad Category winner, Honda’s Alexis Hernandez. Sarel Van Biljon flew the flag for South Africa onboard his German built E-ATV 690 in his first Dakar attempt. Another first timer for Dakar was twice Australasian Safari Quad winner, Paul Smith, riding a similar machine to his 2012 Safari TRX700XX.


Surprisingly out of the 38 quads set to cover 8420kms over the 14 stages only 4 brands were represented, Yamaha being the most popular choice with 19 Raptors entered in the event over the 9 Can Am Renegades, 8 Honda TRX700XX’s and the 2 KTM powered E-ATV 690’s.


Stage 1 Lima – Pisco

Liaison -250km

Special – 13km

Total Km – 263km


Stage 1’s short special is prologue to the first long stage of day two, the quads given the front running off the start line. Local Yamaha rider Ignacio Flores Seminario gave himself his first Dakar stage victory taking the special in the sand dunes by 11 seconds over Husseini with Patronelli a further 4 seconds behind and another 5 seconds back to Casale. Smith took his first day at Dakar cautiously, a little over a minute off the pace in 13th place.


Stage 2 Pisco – Pisco

Liaison – 85km

Special – 242km

Total – 327km


In the 37 degree heat of the Pisco sand dunes Seminario was the first quad away. The lead was soon taken by Patronelli, who went on to win the stage by 1:06 over Husseini and gaining nearly 10 minutes over Casale and Maffei while Seminario was relegated to 5th on the stage. Smith was riding to the conditions, trying to come to terms with the size and flow of the dunes, and also his temperature gauge, managing 20th on the stage.


Stage 3 Pisco – Nazca

Liaison – 4km

Special – 243km

Liaison -96km


In another day with the majority of the special being sand it was Patronelli again who took the honors – after suffering a flat tyre – by just 3minutes again over Husseini. Maffei had problems, dropping him down the order to finish just 5 seconds ahead of Smith in 20th place. The Polish riders brought themselves to the fore today, Sonik and Laskawiec finishing 30 seconds apart over the 243km special in 3rd and 4th place respectively. Alexis Hernandez ended his Dakar aspirations with a massive crash, getting out of the special but ending up 8 hours behind the leaders.


Stage 4 Nazca – Arequipa

Special – 290km

Liaison -430km


The order at the front seeming to settle down today with Patronelli again dominating the stage, 9:48 ahead of Husseini on the special and 15 minutes ahead of the Honda rider in the overall standings after the stage. The gap back to Sonik in 3rd overall was drawn out to 1 hour. Laskawiec managed 3rd for the day on the stage ahead of Sonik’s Yamaha while Maffei made up for stage 3 with a 5th place 28 minutes behind the leader.


Stage 5 Arequipa – Arica

Special – 136km

Liaison -275km


Stage 5 saw the rally’s first border crossing, into Chile from Peru and a change in terrain too, with less sand the first 5 days. Husseini’s 2nd place in the overall standings was lost today, a gearbox problem seeing him towed out of the special by his teammate Kees Koolen. This gave Patronelli the opportunity to extend his lead again, now out to 1:18 minutes over Casale who was 3rd on the stage behind Laskawiec. Luciano Galgliardi and Sarel Van Biljon snuck into the top five while Sonik and Maffei struggled. Our own Paul Smith almost made it into the top ten, just sitting in 11th for the stage.


Stage 6 Arica – Calama

Liaison – 291km

Special – 455km

Liaison – 22km


Casale pipped Patronelli for the stage win by 6 minutes in his first stage victory at Dakar, while Van Biljon took advantage of Laskawiec’s technical problems to take third in the stage, moving to 4th in the overall standings. Husseini began his comeback, 4th on the stage but now 17th overall with a seemingly insurmountable 5:30 gap to make up to the race lead while fellow Honda rider Smith, brought his overall position up to 13th with another 11th on the stage.


Stage 7 Calama – Salta

Liaison – 417km

Special – 218km

Liaison – 167km


Stage 7 was the beginning of the marathon stage for the bikes and quads, with no overnight service scheduled for the day the riders would have to fend for themselves. It was also the day for another border crossing into Argentina, being one of the longest days of the rally at 802km, coupled with extreme altitude of the Andes Cordilleras, the highest point of the event at 4975m. Sebastian Palma gave Can Am its only stage victory today with Patronelli managing his overall lead with another 2nd in the stage while Van Biljon again got himself into 3rd with only 38 seconds separating the top 3. Smith lifted his pace, sneaking inside the top ten with 9th place.



Stage 8 Salta – Tucuman

Liaison – 19km

Special – 492km

Liaison – 228km


In the second part of the marathon stage and heading for the rest day the special was severely shortened due to extreme rain making some of the course impassable. Sorel Van Biljon broke through for his first Dakar stage wins, ahead of Patronelli, moving to 3rd in the overall standings. Patronelli still had a commanding lead and knew that he could easily win the rally without needing to win another stage. Palma kept the big Can Am in the top three for stage 8, just ahead of Husseini with Lucas Bonetto and his Honda adding another name to the list of top five riders in the stage.


Stage 9 Tucuman – Cordoba

Liaison – 176km

Special – 593km

Liaison – 83km


After the rest day in Tucuman, Laskawiec broke through for his first stage win of 2013, Patronelli happy again in 2nd. The rest of the names in the top five a return to earlier in the rally with Husseini, Sonik and Casale all getting back on the pace though none are able to make an assault on Patronelli’s overall time. Van Biljon found himself at the back of the field after mechanical issues knocked him out of an early lead, 27th in the stage and now 22nd overall, while Smith was looking to get himself on the 26 minutes Dakar tv coverage with a top 5 place, the rocky soil tracks suiting him better than the sand from the first week.



Stage 10 Cordoba – La Rioja

Liaison – 37km

Special – 357km

Liaison – 242km


Stage 10 was again a day of tough rally roads in dense scrub interspersed with river crossings coupled with extreme heat, temperatures on the track over 45 degrees. The order at the front only changed a little today with Laskawiec again leading the way to the finish ahead of Casale and Sonik. Patronelli dropped 6 minutes to Laskawiec in his only finish outside the top 5 for the rally, but is managing his overall lead of around 1:30 over Casale. Quote of the day goes to Paul Smith, knowing the reputation of the Fiambala sand dunes “I don’t care for results tomorrow just want make it through.” Turning out to be a big understatement.


Stage 11 La Rioja – Fiambala

Liaison – 256km

Special – 221km

Liaison – 6km


Totally unpredicted by yesterdays quote, Smith lead from early in the stage, not suffering from any of the navigational errors that afflicted some of the other front-runners. Smith giving Honda their first quad category stage win by 4 minutes over Gaston Gonzales with Patronelli just another minute and a half further back. The soft sand of Fiambala was more forgiving again this year due to recent rains and the ambient heat was down from pervious days.


Stage 12 Fiambala – Copiapo

Liaison – 392km

Special – 319km

Liaison -4km


The second crossing of the Andes saw another Honda rider rise to the front, this time it was Husseini who was feeling at home in the big dunes as the race made its way through the southern part of the Atacama desert. Just 1 minute behind Husseini was Patronelli; consolidating his overall lead though, now almost out to 2 hours. Smith dropped off the pace through the mountain stage with a badly damaged rear tyre for the last 100km of the special but after his stage 11 win is now in 7th overall.


Stage 13 Copiapo – La Serena

Liaison – 90km

Special – 441km

Liaison – 204km


Van Biljon again put himself to the front of the pack by just 41 seconds, leading the way as the course made its way down to the Pacific. Only 3 minutes separating the top five riders in the 441km special that saw the last of the sand for this years rally. The Quad category staying largely drama free for the last few days of the event with everyone seeming to be happy consolidating their overall positions.


Stage 14 La Serena – Santiago

Liaison – 122km

Special – 346km

Liaison – 158km


The final special of the 2013 Dakar saw Husseini challenging at the front though is was Van Biljon again who took the stage victory, his 3rd for the event although his previous problems see him down in 21st overall. Only 30 seconds separated Van Biljon and Husseini while only 1-½ minutes again separated the top 5 places and 6 minutes the top ten places for the stage. Patronelli was the hero of the day though, a convincing win by almost 2 hours over Casale and over 3 hours ahead of Sonik. With 7 different stage winners it was Patronelli’s consistency and experience at the rally that won him with his early lead never called into question for the whole event.  Bonetto was the best of the Honda riders, a further 30 minutes behind Sonik. Can Am’s Sebastian Palma filled out the top five in the overall (and was the first of the 4×4 quad class) followed by the Honda’s of Husseini and Smith, 6th and 7th respectively in their first attempts at the race.