Lima, Peru, January 24, 2012 — BRP’s Can-Am ATV and side-by-side teams reached their respective class podiums in the 34th edition of the most famous rally in the world, the Dakar Rally.

This year’s edition, noted by some as “the most challenging Dakar thus far,” kicked off in Mar del Plata-Argentina, leading 30 hopeful ATV racers through approximately 9,000 kilometers (5,592 miles) of unparalleled terrains across Argentina, Chile, and finally, Peru. Only 11 teams crossed the coveted finish line, among them BRP racers Daniel Mazzucco, Barry Cruces and Petar Cenkov (Team Rally Raid / Can-Am), who finished first, second and third in the 4×4 Quad category.

“Out of my three Dakar participations, this was without a doubt the toughest,” Argentinean pilot Mazzucco (Team AGO-MD / Can-Am) declared upon receiving his first-place trophy. “The ATV performed extremely well … the Renegades filled the podium on the 4×4, which was a great result! I also must commend my technical support team for providing excellent support and assistance.”

Tire manufacturer BFGoodrich secured its 12th Dakar triumph – its 10th in a row – in Lima, Peru on January 15th, 2012. Victory on the world’s most gruelling cross-country rally went to Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel (ALL 4 Racing MINI) who took his personal score on the event to 10 wins.

BFGoodrich’s maiden Dakar success dates back to 1999, and the company hasn’t been beaten on the world’s most exacting off-road rally since 2002.

The 2012 event proved particularly challenging thanks to a menu of more than 4,000 kilometresof against-the-clock action between the New Year’s Day start in Mar del Plata, Argentina, and the finish in Lima, Peru. The route featured a punishing cocktail of rough and rocky trails, plus Chile’s sandy Atacama desert and the awesome dunes of southern Peru which competitors discovered for the first time this year.

The Dakar regulations dictate the use of a single type of tyre for the entire route. BFGoodrich’s principal partners in the T1class (MINI, Toyota, Mitsubishi, etc.) chose the All-Terrain+ tire which is reputed for its durability, versatility and performance.

The American brand faced stiff competition this year, notably in the form of the Hummers driven by last year’s winner Al-Attiyah and the USA’s Gordon. These powerful machines were entered in the so-called ‘Open’ class which permits the use of wider and bigger-diameter tyres (+13cm), as well as a system that permits tires to be inflated and deflated from the cockpit. This solution is especially useful when crossing terrain which alternates between stones and sand dunes.

That, however, didn’t prevent the ALL4 Racing MINIs and their BFGoodrich All-Terrain+ tires from claiming a one-two finish thanks to Stéphane Peterhansel and Spaniard Nani Roma, while South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers and his new Toyota Hilux made it an all-BFGoodrich podium.

Today’s result sees Stéphane Peterhansel establish a new record for the highest number of Dakar wins, and the Frenchman only suffered from loss in tire pressure four times during the entire two-week competition which was run at an extremely quick pace from start to finish. “Most of these punctures were due to bad luck, including one where a sharp branch pierced a hole in the sidewall, while another was caused when the rear tyre was hit by a big rock that was dug up by a front wheel. I was very happy with my BFGoodrich tyres. The team’s engineers worked hard on the chassis, suspensions and tyres this year to make sure that the three functioned in perfect harmony. I would like to thank my co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret, everyone in the X-raid team and all my partners. They all deserved this win!”

Red Bull KTM factory rider Cyril Despres on Sunday rode into Lima in triumph to seal his fourth career Dakar title and to present KTM with its eleventh consecutive win in this, the toughest event on the annual motorsports calendar.

His KTM teammate Marc Coma finished second overall in what was one of the most epic two-way battles in the rally’s history.

KTM has now won the motorcycle division of the Dakar rally every year since 2001, with the exception of 2008 when it was canceled because of security threats. In the 2012 edition, eight of the top 10 finishers and 15 of the top 20 rode KTM machines underlining the dominance of the Austrian brand’s sports bikes.

The race was a personal triumph for French-born Despres who first won in 2005 and repeated the victory in 2007, 2010 and again in 2012. His KTM factory teammate Marc Coma, who won the rally in 2006, 2009 and 2011 finished second after one of the Dakar’s most historic and closely fought battles. Both riders set the scene for a two-way competition right from the first stage and remained minutes apart until the penultimate stage on Saturday. Coma won five stages in the 2012 edition and Despres four but it was the turn of the Frenchman to ride in triumph into Lima.

Cyril Despres went into Stage 11 of the Dakar Rally on Thursday with the slimmest of overall margins just 21 seconds ahead of KTM factory teammate Marc Coma. At the end of the 534 km timed split section, Despres was first across the line and had extended his lead to 2 minutes 22 over his rival.

Given that the race is around 9000 km and there are still three stages to the finish, the competition is still wide open.

The two KTM riders, who are more than an hour in front of third-placed Helder Rodrigues of Portugal, are both aware that the slightest mistake can cost them their fourth title in the world’s toughest rally.  They have also now both won four stages each in this edition. Other KTM riders in the forefront of the action in today’s stage were Gerard Farres Guell of Spain who was just 1 minute 39 behind Despres in second place and Johnny Aubert, KTM Enduro factory rider, competing in his first Dakar Rally on a series model KTM 450 Rally Replica bike. Farres led the bikes for much of the day and Aubert had his best ever day so far finishing fourth in the stage.

So with the two lead riders so evenly matched, from the same team and riding the same factory bikes it is now largely a matter of tactics. Coma and Despres finished 2-3 in yesterday’s stage so Coma went out first. Despres shadowed his opponent all day and only went into the lead in the last part of the ride. It was the Frenchman’s thirtieth Dakar stage victory.

Despres said today was all about attacking. ”In the beginning there had been a modification to the road book and the tracks weren’t very visible. I rode 100 meters too far but then I saw Marc was turning round, even though he started two minutes in front of me. The day was a tough one and started with pushing the bike through a stream. It could be an important development to have someone between Marc and me. With Farres at second it’s not good for me. Tomorrow will be complicated, but anything can happen on the Dakar.”

That is exactly what will happen tomorrow on the second of four stages in Peru. Despres will have to open the road as the first out of the start gate, then Farres Guell, a friend and Spanish colleague of Coma’s will go off two minutes later setting up a possibility for the title holder to quickly gain on Despres. Coma will also be assisted by Aubert who moves up to be his support rider after his water carrier Joan Pedrero was forced to withdraw after Stage 10.

CYPRESS, CALIFORNIA – Excitement is building in anticipation of crowning the overall winner for the 2012 Dakar™ this coming Monday. Robby Gordon is focused on capturing that glory, winning today’s Stage 9 by 1-minute 38-seconds over race-leader, Stephane Peterhansel. Gordon’s charge has reduced Peterhansel’s lead to less than six minutes with four days left of competition.

Today’s 556km stage ran from the coastal cities of Antofagasta to Iquique, northward along the Pacific Ocean coast of Chile. Competitors were faced with a variety of terrain including canyons, hills and perilous silt-beds known as “fesh fesh.”  Throughout the rally, Gordon has relied on Toyo® Open Country M/T®-R tires to help keep his two-wheel drive #303 SPEED Energy / Toyo Tires HUMMER on a searing pace.  As of today’s Stage 9 of the 2012 Dakar, Toyo Tires® has recorded eight podium finishes with Team SPEED, three of those being stage wins.

Gordon’s teammate, Nasser Al-Attiyah was chasing Gordon in second place after Checkpoint 2 in today’s stage.  Misfortune then struck the hard-charging Al-Attiyah’s #300 Qatar HUMMER as he was sidelined with a mechanical problem.  Al-Attiyah won Stages 2 and 7, while also finishing third in Stage 3 in this year’s race.

It was business as usual for the two lead KTM factory riders, Cyril Despres and Marc Coma on Tuesday when riders set out for Stage 9 of the Dakar 2012 on a large arc from Antofagasta to Iquique in Chile. Despres, who had a dramatic day on Monday landing in a mud hole, went out like a man possessed, led throughout to claim the stage and reclaim the overall lead.

It was the French rider’s third stage victory in this edition. Coma has won four stages and with Stage Six scrapped, KTM has claimed seven of eight stages so far. Both riders are chasing their fourth Dakar Rally title and if either of them succeed it will represent KTM’s eleventh successive victory. The Austrian sports motorcycle specialist has shut out all the competition in every Dakar Rally since 2001 (the 2008 edition was cancelled).

Despres ended yesterday with a deficit of around 12 minutes after sacrificing the overall lead to Coma. The mud hole turned out to be a natural hazard that occurred after the final official inspection had been done by organizers and was not marked on the road book. Cyril and six other riders got stuck in the mud and race officials decided a detour was in order rather than deal with the obvious chaos. They later reinstated lost time to the riders disadvantaged and when they left on Tuesday Cyril trailed Marc by just over a minute.

It was with this in mind that he put down the hammer on his KTM 450 Rally bike and rode with a passion to lead throughout the special. His reward for such a doggedly determined ride was his third stage victory in Dakar 2012 to level with Coma’s three stages and a narrow lead in the overall standings.

CYPRESS, CALIFORNIA – International fans were treated to American V8 thunder as Robby Gordon launched an all-out attack on today’s Stage 8 of the Dakar™ rally.  The determined Gordon surged forward with his #303 SPEED Energy / Toyo Tires HUMMER to finish second place in the stage, moving him to second overall in the 14-stage rally.  The route traveled 477km northward from Copiapó, Chile to the town of Antofagasta on the Pacific Ocean.  Gordon is now easily within striking distance of the overall lead of the Dakar.

Teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah, drove his #300 Qatar HUMMER to a fifth place finish in the stage and sixth overall.  Both HUMMERS are equipped with Toyo® Open Country M/T®-R tires.

During Saturday’s Stage 7, the HUMMERS delivered a 1-2 punch by finishing in first and second place.  Nasser Al-Attiyah scored a victory in the 419km Copiapó Stage in the Atacama Region.  Robby Gordon finished in second place for a historic first-ever 1-2 finish for the U.S.-based Team SPEED and for Toyo Tires

When riders set out at Mar Del Plata on the Atlantic coast of Argentina on January 1 there were 178 in the start list of Dakar 2012. Now in Copiapo, Chile for the one rest day of the 2012 rally after nearly 4500 km the 33rd edition of the world toughest motor sports event it has again evolved into the tale of two riders: Cyril Despres and Marc Coma of the KTM factory team.

French rider Despres is in the overall lead with a cushion of almost eight minutes on teammate Marc Coma of Spain. But that is only half of the story. Third placed Helder Rodrigues of Portugal is almost 50 minutes behind Despres and that will be very difficult to overcome. Both KTM riders are attempting to win their third Dakar title and KTM, the Austrian sports bike specialist is looking at a potential eleventh consecutive title. KTM’s riders have one every edition since 2001, except in 2008 when the rally was cancelled on the eve of departure from Lisbon following security threats in North Africa. KTM also overcame a surprise change of engine size imposed by the rally organizers that reduced allowable engine size down to 450 cc. This was a move that was largely viewed as an effort to break the company’s stranglehold on the bike category.

At Stage 2 of the Dakar Rally on Monday, Darren Skilton experienced fuel delivery issues in his Revolution VI buggy that pushed him to the back of the pack, yet Skilton and navigator Skyler Gambrell were still able to complete the stage under their own power.  That evening Skilton’s crew made aerodynamic modifications to provide additional airflow to the fuel pumps in an effort to remedy the issues.  In short, this was not successful.  Just 40 kilometers before the beginning of the special stage, the General Grabbers on Skilton’s car stopped turning due to the same fuel problems.  The team was able to coax the car to the start line without any time penalties, but that was just the start of the special stage!

While pushing hard to close the gap on the competition, Skilton slid into a sharp rock and damaged a tire, then later on the fuel issues surfaced yet again.  “The pumps were actually not that hot,” Gambrell explained.  “The fuel in the tank is cool, but with three separate fuel cells there is a collection point with a filter ahead of the pumps.  We bypassed this system and did not experience any more fuel delivery problems after that.”  Already starting in the back of the pack, once they stopped the team was caught in traffic with the huge T4 trucks, which quickly degraded the track conditions and visibility.

Skilton finished 118th for the day, completing the 208 km special stage in 4 hours and 52 minutes.  “I am heartbroken that my teammate Mark McMillin was not able to continue the rally,” Skilton noted.  “He has graciously offered his support to my race effort and that has been extremely helpful already.”  The team now heads to Chilecito in the shadow of the Andes mountains, with elevations on Stage 5 topping 10,000 feet.

Darren Skilton would like to thank the following sponsors for their support: General Tire • King Off-Road Racing Shocks • Method Race Wheels • Baja Designs Lighting Solutions • Neo Synthetic Oil • Redline Performance
PCI Race Radios • Signpros Custom Lettering

Follow the latest action from the Dakar Rally at Baja Automotive’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Baja-Automotive-Adventures/298123813554060.

Alister McRae has tackled the Dakar Rally the past few years in the ProDakar McRae Buggy and has finished what is considered one of the most grueling off-road races, if not the most grueling, in the world. The race – which previously ran from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal – moved to South America in 2009 due to security threats and now travels through Argentina, Chile and Peru. With more than 5,500 miles covered during the race, it’s an enormous feat just to finish. For 2012, McRae is upping the ante, however, looking to be the first team to race an electric vehicle at the Dakar.

This new electric McCrae buggy will feature a custom-made Lithium Ion batter designed to recharge to an amazing 90% in 15 to 30 minutes. The press release from the team provides more information:

The new evolution will be powered by a 54KW/h Lithium Ion battery pack through a PM motor with 2000Nm(but it will be limited to 120 NM) of Torque and 200 KW power rating with a weight less than 40 KG … An aerodynamically optimized body is been developed in conjunction with energy recovery shock absorbers that will turn kinetic engine from the ruts and bumps in to electrical energy.