x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Dakar Rally: Who is going to be at the front

Matt Majendie looks at who will be challenging for honours in the four main categories of the Dakar Rally.

Matt Majendie looks at who will be challenging for honours in the four main categories of the Dakar Rally. Cars Stephane Peterhansel's previous record means he enters the event as the top seed and the favourite for victory, with Jean-Paul Cottret co-driving. However, potentially his biggest threat comes from within his own Mitsubishi team, with Luc Alphand, Joan Roma and Hiroshi Masuoka all capable of victory. Qatar's Nasser Saleh al Attiyah has the potential to cause an upset as he heads BMW's bid.

Motorbikes It's a simple case of France versus Spain as the world's top two endurance riders, Cyril Despres and Marc Coma, go head to head. Despres' policy is to consistently plug away at the lead while Coma is always fast out of the blocks and tries to fend off his chasers as the days wear on. Also worth looking out for on two wheels is David Casteu, who was third in 2007. Quads Joser Machacek has undeniably dominated this class in the 21st century. He boasts wins in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2007 and is the red-hot favourite to pick up win number five in Buenos Aires later this month. His last victory in 2007 was his most dominant to date. Among those trying to cause an upset in the event will be Carlos Avendano and Jose Maria Pena.

Trucks The general consensus is that, come the end of the 16 days of action, two crews will be battling it out for overall victory. The No 1 seed is Holland's Hans Stacey, who won in 2007. But bidding for revenge will be the Dakar's most successful truck driver of all time, Vladimir Chagin. Heading up the Kamaz team, the Russian will be aiming to add to his five titles he won in 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006. mmajendie@thenational.ae