RENO, Nev. — Leaving the snow and the snowplows behind for another summer of sun and fun in the desert, Minnesota’s Peter Hajas has earned the Dakar Challenge 2013 special program that provides him with the opportunity of a lifetime to race in the 2014 Dakar Rally in South America.
Earning his entry package into the Dakar by recording the fastest adjusted time combined from two major desert races—the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 in June and last weekend’s Eldorado HDRA Reno 500, Hajas and his team now must begin making their plans for next January’s Dakar Rally.
Hajas, 53, of Wayzata, Minn., was seventh in his class at the Tecate SCORE Baja 500 out of 22 starters and won his class at the Eldorado HDRA Reno 500 out of 10 starters in a Chevy-powered Kreger open-wheel desert race car. After factoring his class coefficient to adjust his time, Hajas earned the top spot in the Dakar Challenge 2013.
“It’s a huge honor to win the first Dakar Challenge in North America, but it is also a bit intimidating,” said Hajas. “It is a big opportunity for us as we have always been intrigued by the Dakar Rally just like we grew up always wanting to race one of the legendary SCORE Baja races. We have to sort a lot of things out, but now it looks like we will be fulfilling another longtime dream my brother Steve and I have had.”
Presenting his Dakar Challenge 2013 trophy and award package during the awarding ceremony last Sunday for the Eldorado HDRA Reno 500 was Xavier Gavory, the Head of the Competition Department of the Dakar Rally.
SCORE President Roger Norman, who owns both SCORE and the High Desert Racing Association, negotiated the deal that will earn the prize package for the declared car/truck racer from the two major desert races in the U.S. and Mexico who will receive a free entry by way of the Dakar Challenge 2013 into the 2014 Dakar Rally to be in Argentina on January 5-18.
The Dakar Challenge was free to enter for any four wheel competitor entered in Trophy Truck, Class 1, Class 10 or Class 7200.
“The Dakar Challenge was initiated to help provide a wonderful new opportunity for talented up-and-coming SCORE and HDRA racers the possibility of competing in one of the most popular motorsports events in the world,” said Norman, a former champion racer who is in his first season as owner of the iconic SCORE International, producers of the world’s foremost desert racing series. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the racers as well as for SCORE and HDRA.”
To level the playing field a coefficient was applied to adjust elapsed times with SCORE Trophy Truck being at the baseline.
Hajas, originally from Chicago who is a hedge fund manager and started racing in SCORE about five years ago in the UTV class before moving up to Class 10, won the Dakar Challenge 2013 with a adjusted combined time for the two races of 19 hours, 52 minutes, four seconds.
Second in the Dakar Challenge 2013 was Jonathan Brenthal, Newport Beach, Calif., in Class 7200 with a combined time of 23:32:12 while third was Mike Shaffer, Alameda, Calif., in Class 10 with an adjusted combined time of 25:01:31.
The two North American desert races joined the Dakar Challenge project that involves four other rallies on four continents for a total of five car/truck teams who will earn the entry package into the next Dakar Rally. They are the first races in North America to be part of the Dakar Challenge.
The Dakar Rally, originally known as the Paris to Dakar Rally is an annual rally raid type of off-road race, organized by Amaury Sport Organization (A.S.O.). Most of the events since the inception in 1978 were from Paris to Dakar, Senegal. The rally has been run in South America since 2009. The 2013 Dakar Rally started in Peru and finished in Chile while going through Argentina. The race is open to amateur and professional entries.
The timetable of Dakar Challenge 2013 events:
-May 31-June 2, 2013: Dakar Challenge USA 1: Tecate SCORE Baja 500**
-June 15-22, 2013: Desafio Ruta 40 – Dakar Series
-June 20-23, 2013: Toyota Kalahari Botswana 1000 Desert Race
-July 12-14, 2013: Dakar Challenge USA 2: Eldorado HDRA Reno 500**
-Sept. 20-27, 2013: Australasian Safari
-Oct. 3-6, 2013: Desafío Inca Peru
Complete regulations and other information on Dakar Challenge 2013 are available at http://www.dakar.com/dakar/2014/us/dakar-challenge.html
Covering a racing distance of over 3,000 miles over a two-week period, among the SCORE stars who have participated in the Dakar Rally include Robby Gordon, Larry Ragland, Mark Miller, B.J. Baldwin, Mark McMillin, Kellon Walch and Andy Grider in car/trucks.