Sainz, Loeb, Walkner and Nikolaev give final thoughts ahead of rally raid race.
The first stage of the 2019 Dakar Rally gets underway on January 6 with the high quality field prepared for everything that the world’s most dangerous rally raid race can throw at them. Here is all you need to know:
- The crews, drivers and riders have arrived for the 11th edition of the race in South America with a host of former winners primed for another fascinating battle.
- Defending car champion Carlos Sainz, who lines up in a MINI John Cooper Works Buggy this year, revealed: “I haven’t changed the way I prepare after winning last year. You try and adapt to the car and its characteristics. The Dakar challenges you in every way both physically and mentally. It taxes all your strength and that of your team, so victory brings maximum satisfaction.”
- Frenchman Sébastien Loeb, who returns for his fourth attempt as a Red Bull privateer in a Peugeot 3008DKR of which he has recently tested, added: “To take part with my co-driver Daniel Elena is a fantastic challenge. Several teams will have a shot at winning and I hope we are one of them. I like the dunes. I haven’t forgotten everything I’ve learned these past three years and I’m still hungry for success!”
- Reigning bike champion Matthias Walkner, who faces a tough task against former winners Toby Price and Sam Sunderland, explained: “There is a little bit of added pressure for me but my plan is exactly the same as always – stay safe and do my best at the event. Strategy will be very important as your start position for the day can make a huge difference to the results.”
- Last year’s truck winner Eduard Nikolaev knows the 5,000km over 10 days will be a gruelling affair when he said: “We know that our rivals will be fighting for place on the podium. Iveco, Renault, Tatra and others are very strong opponents that we’ve got to know very well over the years. We’ve had a very intensive year. Preparing the trucks, racing and testing as well as physical training. Now we go to Peru for a serious exam.”