The running of the 43rd annual edition of the Dakar, from January 3rd – 15th, 2021, has been a testament to the power of world-class sports events to lift the collective mood. It’s also entirely appropriate that an event that is all about overcoming extremely tough odds should be one of the first signs of renewed resilience in this new year.
Motul has continued its partnership with Dakar for the fourth consecutive year, both as a major sponsor and by supporting individual teams and competitors. Among these are the Monster Energy Honda Team with defending champion, Ricky Brabec, who last year made history by becoming the first American winner of the Dakar, plus the Sherco Racing Factory team of Lorenzo Santolino (Spain), Rui Jorge Goncalves (Portugal) and Harith Noah Koitha Veetil (India), competing as part of the 360 Degree partnership with Motul.
Watch DAKAR 2021 Sherco
The T2 Class for Production Cars has been contested by Motul-backed SRT Racing and the Team Land Cruiser Toyota Auto Body factory team. Motul’s range of top-quality lubricant products is reflected in their support for teams from multiple categories, including – but not limited to – teams in the SSV category (Polaris Factory Team and the South Racing Can-Am team); the Quads category (2019 winner Nicolas Cavigliasso and Pablo Copetti, both on Yamahas); the Trucks category (SSP); and even the innovative new Classic category (Maxime Lacarrau in a Toyota Land Cruiser).
Motul also renewed their sponsorship of the Original by Motul category for unsupported riders – reckoned by many Dakar veterans to be the purest way to experience this iconic event.
“Motul is delighted to continue our association with the Dakar – an event where anything can – and often does – happen,” “That has made the Dakar 2021 the perfect testing ground for the latest formulation of Motul’s premier lubricant, Motul 300V, which Toyota are putting through its paces for us. In this way, we’re able to underscore our commitment both to motorsports and to producing quality lubricant products,”.commented Mercia Jansen, Motul Area Manager for Southern and Eastern Africa
Motul’s support has also included providing onsite oil analysis for all teams after each stage. This service was highlighted by Stuart Thompson who is looking after the eight South Racing Can-Am’s in the SSV category.
“Our team has gone from strength to strength throughout this year’s Dakar, and we’re proud to have all eight of our vehicles still in the event with just one stage to go,”.commented Thompson
“Motul’s oil analysis service has allowed us to plan better and ensure optimum reliability from our SSVs,”.added Stuart, whose team has the leader in the SSV category at the end of Stage 11
As in 2020, this year’s edition of the Dakar has been run entirely within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This alleviates the need for international travel during the event, but also presents unique terrain, temperature and navigational challenges. The end result is an increased emphasis on skills rather than speed.
The Dakar 2021 has comprised 12 stages and a total of almost 5 000km of timed route, at least 80% of which has been entirely new. The dunes and gravel plains of Saudi Arabia have once again proved immensely challenging for all participants and have led to one of the most competitive Dakar events in many years. On the eve of the final, decisive stage, several of the categories are nicely poised – promising Dakar fans a potentially nail-biting last stage into Jeddah.
At the time of going to press, with one stage left to go, Brabec lies in third place, just over 7 minutes behind teammate and two-time podium finisher, Kevin Benavides. They are separated by Red Bull KTM Factory Team rider and 2017 Dakar winner Sam Sunderland.
There’s a familiar name at the head of the Cars category, with Stéphane Peterhansel – “Mr Dakar” and navigator Edouard Boulanger (X-Raid Mini JCW Team) holding a lead of 15 minutes over stage 11 winner, Nasser al-Attiyah and navigator Matthieu Baumel (Toyota Gazoo Racing). Still another Dakar legend lies in third, just over a minute further back: Carlos Sainz with Lucas Cruz (also X-Raid Mini JCW Team).