That’s it. The 2017 Dakar Rally is finally over, with Stage 12 concluding today in the capitol city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. With a short 64km timed special, the results were unlikely to change much, barring some sort of unexpected catastrophe.
Anything can happen in the Dakar Rally, and in what was billed as the toughest edition of this iconic race, we bet there were still some nervous hands during today’s session.
Two stages of the 2017 Dakar Rally had already been cancelled, and we had already seen top riders withdraw from this competition, namely KTM’s Toby Price, who dropped out while leading the Dakar, and Husqvarna’s Pablo Quintanilla, who withdrew while in second place.
As such, there was much delight when KTM’s Sam Sunderland not only finally finished his first full Dakar Rally, but did so by standing on the top step. Finally bucking his bad luck, Sunderland does so by also being the first British Dakar Rally winner, in any category.
The victory is also KTM’s 16th-straight Dakar Rally win, marking the occasion with an all-orange podium, as Matthias Walkner and Gerard Farres finished second and third behind Sunderland overall, respectively.
In fourth place is surely a frustrated Adrien van Beveren, the Yamaha rider finished just 48 seconds behind Farres, which is extra disappointing considering the one-minute penalty he received during Stage 11.
That is a tough break for the factory Yamaha team, though it shows that the Japanese manufacturer is a true contender now in the Dakar Rally.
The same can be said of Honda Racing, with the Monster Energy Honda Rally team showing tremendous potential as well, throughout the 2017 Dakar Rally.
If it had not been for a one-hour time penalty for a refueling mistake during Stage 4, Honda would have had two riders, Joan Barreda and Pablo Gonçalves, in winner’s contention. They finished fifth (+43 minutes) and sixth (+52 minutes) behind Sunderland, respectively.
We can expect Honda to be a strong contender in future editions of the Dakar Rally, and despite this year’s result, the racing through the rally raid showed that KTM’s dominance is no longer assured.
There are four manufacturers now capable of winning this iconic race, which bodes well for the future.