Like the earlier edition, the 2017 Dakar Rally proved to be a test of endurance, patience and, experience.
Russia’s Eduard Nikolaev of the Kamaz-Master truck team claimed his second Dakar rally title on January 14, 2017. Nikolaev completed the final stage between Rio Cuarto and Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a 19-minute lead over his nearest rival to repeat his Dakar success of 2013. Second place was taken by another Russian Kamaz-Master driver, Dmitry Sotnikov, who left defending champion Gerard de Rooy of the Netherlands and his Iveco in the third spot. The Russians were a dominant force in the Dakar truck category with Kamaz bringing home 14 titles since 1996.
In what would be a fierce competition, Martin Kolomy of the Czech Republic surprised the trucks field in the opening stage of 2017 Dakar rally with a first place finish in exactly 30 minutes. Martin Van den Brink and Ales Loprais were placed thirty seconds behind the leader, whilst the title holder Gerard de Rooy (piloting an Iveco Dakar truck) managed to limit the damage to 42 seconds with his left rear wheel catching fire in the last kilometre! Winner of the 2016 title, Gerard DeRooy, started first. He started ahead of the Kamaz driven by Airat Mardeev and the Iveco of Federico Villagra. An announcement by Mark Coma, Dakar Sporting Director, before the start of the event, that the route of the 2017 Dakar preserves rally-raid traditions, held true through out the event as the truck teams fought it out. Coma mentioned that the physical challenge will push the competitors into the world of extreme endurance as they cover seven selective sections over 400 kms with one of them stretching to more than 500kms. “The rally will be held over six days at more than 3,000 m above sea level. The level of difficulty will increase just until the rest day, then a second increase in power will be necessary, to reach one’s ideal level for the ‘Super Belén’. Nothing will be decided until the very last special stage at Río Cuarto,” he added.