Published on : 15/01/2021 – 20:20
Stéphane Peterhansel (Mini) once again won the prestigious Dakar rally-raid, organized this year in Saudi Arabia. Argentina’s Kevin Benavides (Honda) won in the bikers, a first for a South American.
His multiple victories have earned him the nickname “Monsieur Dakar”. At 55, Stéphane Peterhansel (Mini) won on Friday January 15 his 14eDakar rally, his first in Saudi Arabia, 30 years after his very first victory in the premier rally-raiding competition.
Peterhansel, who now has eight wins in the car and six in motorcycles, edged Qatari driver Nasser Al-Attiyah (Toyota) by 15 minutes, and Spaniard Carlos Sainz, his Mini teammate.
Africa, South America and Saudi Arabia: Peterhansel has now triumphed on all the continents where the Dakar has landed.
At the time of his first victory, in 1991, Peterhansel was 25 years old, rode a motorcycle in the colors of Yamaha and did not yet suspect that his destiny would be linked forever to a competition born thirteen years earlier, in his head. of a certain Thierry Sabine: the Dakar.
Winner in 1991, he was again in 1992, 1993, 1995, 1997 and 1998. Six titles on two wheels, the record remains unmatched on “the most difficult race in the world”. Before winning eight more in the car, hence his nickname “Monsieur Dakar”.
“I dreamed of the Dakar”
Among the bikers, it was the Argentinian Kevin Benavides (Honda) who won the prestigious race.
“You know, it’s an incredible moment for me, I dreamed of the Dakar. I fought so hard for it, trained so much, I sacrificed so much, that what I’m experiencing there, at the moment, is is just … wow! “, says, moved, the pilot a few meters after having crossed the last checkpoint of this 43e edition of the Dakar.
He still wears a bandage on his broken nose, a memory of that famous 5e stage between Riyadh and Al Qaisumah. A stage that he wins when a poor landing at the bottom of a dune made him violently hit his head on the motorcycle’s navigation equipment.
This is how he took the lead in the general, under the nose and beard of his competitors, starting with his teammates at Honda: the American holder of the title Ricky Brabec, with whom he fought until at the last kilometer on Friday, and the Chilean José Ignacio Cornejo Florimo, forced to retire after a crash during the 9e step.
One double for Honda
Benavídes is a consecrated Argentinian enduro rider, who burst onto the Dakar in 2016 with a beautiful 4e up to the key. Absent due to injury in 2017, he had so far won only three stages in four participations. He added two more and the final victory in 2021.
On the Dakar 2020, Benavídes had shown a high-level racing pace, but the engine of his Honda had finally died 44 km from the finish of the 6e step. Staying in the middle of the dunes, the Argentinian had lost four hours to get out.
This year, for this “Dakar of the toughest level” according to Stéphane Peterhansel’s own admission, Benavides had prepared himself, on the strength of his past experiences.
“Of course I made some navigation errors, it’s impossible to have a perfect Dakar I think, but what is important is to stay focused and calm and to think day after day”, a entrusted the Argentine.
With Brabec, Benavides enabled the Japanese manufacturer Honda to obtain its first double since 1987 on the Dakar. That year, Cyril Neveu was crowned in front of Edi Orioli.
This 2021 edition was marked by the death of French biker Pierre Cherpin, five days after having crashed heavily.