Dakar 2015

Saturday, January 17

Stage 13: Arrival to Buenos Aires

Road connection: 77 km – Selective Section: 174 km – Road connection: 142 km – Total: 393 km





This year, the Dakar, a loop “Buenos Aires – Buenos Aires” was marked by the natural elements unchained through each stage that made it harder by the day. Willy Alcaraz, without a windshield, unprotected just like bike riders, faced the heat, the cold, the rain, the hail, the salt, temperatures below zero, the altitude… And to crown this all, a storm and mud sea in the last special stage!


At the Dakar’s bivouac, Willy is admired by the greatest. Alone, steering his Polaris RZR 1000XT+30, he obtains his fourth win in T3 and the third victory in Solo, all based in his experience, talent, mental, and his tenacity.


At the arrival of the selective section, cancelled after CP1, Willy arrives covered by mud, with tears of joy for his accomplishment, after drying a bit during the road connection.


“I am exhausted! This Dakar was hard until the very end, but I am happy to get the fourth victory inT3 and the third in Solo. The 2015 edition was very difficult and not so nice, selective sections were too rough, not great steering so not very interesting or fun to drive.

I had my problems, like everyone else, but I am sure I had less because I was able to make it every day and I am here, I crossed the finish line 46th out of the 67 remaining cars (there were 140 at the start). At the end, in spite of the bad weather, I was able to manage my distance and make it to the end. I suffered the cold in Bolivia, I was shivering all over, even my teeth. That is my worst memory, my best is to be here in Buenos Aires, with the entire Xtremeplus team, and they are awesome.

The Polaris RZR 1000XT+30 is a well-made machine that has been magnified by the preparation of one of the most professional workshops in Pont de Vaux. I want to thank Nico, Manu, Thierry, Francis, Sylvain, Alexis, you guys do an extraordinary work every night to make the RZR as new, and in a very friendly environment and good humor which makes me feel better when I get to the bivouac every evening. Also, want to thank Marco Piana, Norberto Cangani and Steven Griener in the T4 truck (race truck), because we know that in case of a problem, they are not very far.”


Dakar 2015

Thursday, January 15

Stage 11: Salta – Termas Rio Hondo


Road connection: 184 km – Selective Section: 194 km – Road connection: 142 km – Total: 520 km




After the flood yesterday, the heat wave was waiting for competitors at the MotoGP circuit in Termas Rio Hondo with 45 Celsius degrees. The special stage, relatively short, was once again too fast for the Polaris RZR 1000XT+30. Nevertheless, Willy Alcaraz finishes 51 of the day and reaches the 46 place overall, leading the T3 and Solo class.


“The first part of the selective section was way too fast for us, tells the driver. When it became sinuous, I reached the trucks that passed me and I found myself blocked… it was impossible to pass them.


At the end, there were about 10 km of fesh fesh with incredible ruts, of about one meter… The trucks were waiting on line for cars to get out of there. Besides that, it was a beautiful special stage, with lots of spectators and that is always fun.


The Polaris RZR 1000XT+30 did not have any problem, it is perfect, a machine well designed and extraordinary to drive”.



Tomorrow, 900 km to arrive to Rosario, only 298 will be timed.


Dakar 2015


Wednesday, January 14


Stage 10: Calama – Cachi


Road connection: 385 km – Selective Section: 368 km – Road connection: 116 km – Total: 859 km




After the rest day, car competitors expected a hard special stage, but this one was relatively easy, but way too fast. Before arriving to the start of the timed section, all competitors had to cross the Andes Mountains through the Paso Jama at 4,800 meters above sea level and cross the frontier to get to Argentina.


Willy Alcaraz, in spite of the handicap of the high altitude and the top speed, finishes 59 and keeps heading the T3 class.


“This was not a special stage for us, it was way too fast, not interesting and at the moment I could have attacked, there were tons of trucks. I was going full gas all the time, except for the last 50 km that required some steering. Besides, the special stage took place at 3,500 meters above sea level so the engine was in lack of oxygen.


I finished the stage and the RZR had no troubles, everything is perfect. Except that during the road connection to Salta, it would not stop raining, the roads were flooded and I am completely wet!”


Tomorrow competitors will face a stage that will arrive to Termas Rio Hondo, with 520 km.


Dakar 2015

Tuesday, January 13

Stage 9: Iquique – Calama

Road connection: 51 km – Special Stage: 450 km – Road Connection: 37 km – Total: 538 km




The last special stage in Chile was not the easiest one. It contained dunes in the beginning, some fesh fesh, rough and fast tracks, all spiced up by a very acute navigation. But Willy Alcaraz and the Polaris RZR 1000XT+30, excellent in complicated tracks, was even driving with Toyota factory cars. Unfortunately, when he left the main track to fix an electrical issue, the French was hit on the front left side of the Polaris by a buggy…


“The first 150 km went well, with no incidents and I was well placed. Then, I had some electrical problems due to the passage on the salt in the Salar de Uyuni. I left the main track to avoid bothering others, without using the Sentinel, a buggy cut and hit my front left side, I thought my tire was broken but I was lucky. I changed the direction joint and worked on it to continue, but the rim and the suspension were damaged.


I lost a good hour in this and then, when I arrive to look for the waypoint in the fesh fesh, I decided to keep going… there were trucks everywhere going in every single direction and a wall of fesh fesh. I told myself it was better to take the 40 minutes penalty than a truck on my face, it was crazy!”


Tomorrow, the Dakar goes back to Argentina and arrives to Salta. Willy Alcaraz leaves Chile leading the T3 class and with the 49th overall place.


Dakar 2015

Monday, January 11


Rest day in Iquique




The Dakar´s cars competitors started their marathon stage in Bolivia, meaning, they reached Uyuni without service trucks, no spare parts, tools or mechanics… Just carrying what they could in their machines and their own tools.

To arrive to Uyuni, the stage was composed by a 329 km road connection plus a timed section of 321 km. The way back had two selective sections: one of 472 km, a neutralized section of 274 km and another special of 38 km that ended up with the big downhill slide of the great dune of Iquique.


Willy finished in the 62 position at the camp. It was a very difficult marathon stage due to the rain, the cold temperatures and the mud that caused electrical breakdowns in the machines.


“When I started my way to Bolivia, it was as cold as always, and the road connection was calculated very short on time. I made it to the start and barely had time for anything else than putting my helmet and go, I didn’t even had time to eat. The special stage was beautiful, and everything was going fine until it started we were hit by a heavy rain … I was already freezing, and the cherry on top of the cake was that rivers went up to one meter, and the road book was marked to go in the banks. I had to look for ways how to go along and crossed the river many times… Not to say that being wet with the wind blowing and the cold at high altitude… I´ve never been so cold in my life!


While passing in the cold water, a universal joint broke due to the thermal shock and I had a slow puncture but I kept on going. I couldn´t see at all, I had mud in my eyes and my helmet was covered. When I arrived to Uyuni, I spent like half an hour in the shower trying to warm up, I was so cold that my teeth were chattering.


Then, I worked in the car until 11 pm and in the morning; we took a lined start in the Salar de Uyuni. It was fun, but with our top speed we could not do much. Then, in the mountain roads I was able to reach competitors and the first part was fine. Then, in the neutralized section I had an electrical breakdown. I was lucky to find the outlets that had problems and solved it but I took a late start.


I am glad that the rest day is finally here. The team will work in the Polaris RZR 1000XT+30 and then, we have another five stages to go!”


Tomorrow, the stage will take competitors to Calama, in the skirts of the Andes Mountains.

Part of the special without Road Book for Willy Alcatraz

Dakar 2015

Friday January 9

Stage 6: Antofagasta – Iquique

Road Section: 322 km – Special: 69 km – Neutralisatión: 22 km – Special: 186 km – Road Section: 48 km – Total: 688 km



The sixth stage of the Dakar 2015 arrives to Iquique, city located in the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Like every year, the bivouac is located at the skirts of the big downhill of the dunes but yesterday, the competitors arrived through a different path and were received by the public at the podium installed downtown before going to the bivouac.

The special was again hard, and a big part of it was on fesh fesh and dunes at the end. Willy had a good start and was going to be placed among the top 40… but when the bikes path was split from the cars, at km 150, Willy realized that his road book was not right for cars…

“I am alone (in solo), and I use a bike boad book like the bike riders, explains the Polaris RZR 1000XT+30. All of a sudden I found myself alone in tracks with no fesh fesh and only bike traces. I already covered 19 km when I realized that there was a mistake. I had a bike road book and not the car one! So I did a U-turn and went back and followed traces stopping every once in a while to verify if I was going in the right direction and treating myself like an idiot for the rest of the special stage. I lost more than one hour and I was disappointed because I would have made a good time.

At the bivouac, I went to speak to the organization and they have me back 30 minutes to share responsibility. They should have not made the mistake and I should have checked it.

I start then 53, in front of Jes, for the marathon stage in Bolivia.”




Dakar 2015


Thursday, January 8


Stage 5: Copiapo – Antofagasta


Road connection: 174 km – Selective Section: 458 km – Road connection: 65 km – Total: 697 km




The Dakar climbs up North and places its fifth bivouac in Antofagasta, next to the Pacific Ocean. The selective section starts closer to the hills about 174 km from Copiapo, aiming to escape from the camanchaca, the morning fog that raises due to the proximity between the ocean, the desert and the mountains.


The fifth special stage is played on tracks made of sand and soil cut by fesh fesh and reached up to 3000 meters!


For Willy Alcaraz and the RZR Polaris 1000XT+30, the day went relatively well, in spite of a difficult end due to a sandstorm.


“It was a great special stage, explains the RZR driver that arrives to the camp at night. It was difficult, on very rough and fast tracks. Everything was going well for me until 10 km before the finish line. Two trucks passed me and the sandstorm came up. Visibility became 0 in the dust and I could not see a thing. Even less the stones in the fesh fesh. I had two punctures and I lost time there. But I am here, in Antofagasta, and I haven’t said my last word yet.”  

First beautiful day for Willy Alcaraz and his Polaris XT100+30

Dakar 2015

Wednesday January 6

Stage 4: Chilecito – Copiapó (Chile)

Road connection: 594 km – Selective Section: 315 km – Liason: 0 Km – Total: 909 km


It is in Chile that Willy Alcaraz finds his marks and finally spends a “clear” day, meaning, a day without troubles, dust or hot weather! Up at down to cross the Andes Mountains through the magnificent Paso San Francisco (4725 meters above sea level) and pass the frontier to arrive to Chile, Willy only took the start of the special stage, located in the Chilean side, at 4 p.m.!


In spite of this late timing, the Polaris Xtremeplus driver arrived to the Copiapo bivouac right after the sunset and did not have to cross the dunes in the dark. The result is satisfying and the triple champion of the T3 class finished the special in the 54th place.


“In the last stage in Argentina – tells Willy at the arrival of the bivouac in Copiapó. I broke the transmission and Marco (Piana, Xtremeplus Team manager) tolled for 170 km behind the T4 truck (race truck)… in the fesh fesh! It was the most horrible day of my life! And I took the fixed time penalty and the team worked all night and I was able to start, that is what matters!


Today, I started the special stage late and it was a beautiful and varied special stage, with rough tracks, some fesh fesh, fast tracks WRC like, and at the end of the special, sand and dunes. Here is the Atacama Desert, the dunes are real  cathedral dunes, huge dunes, mountains made of soft sand. I lost time finding the all the waypoints and even passed the same place three times, they were hard to find!


In these famous dunes, I found the other Polaris RZR 1000XT+30 and Marco Piana with his Unimog truck. It was fun to find the Xtremeplus team together in the sand. But I had to stop to deflate the tires, I didn’t want to take the risk of being trapped in the sand… and I did well because I lost five minutes and got back with still some daylight. Jes arrived at 5 am because he waited for the track after hitting a rock and breaking a tire and Marco slept in the dunes, inside the truck.


For me, it was a good day!”


The fifth stage of the Dakar will head North along the Pacific Ocean and will arrive to Antofagasta after 647 km and a timed section of 186 km.


A short but fast stage

Dakar 2015


Sunday, January 4


Stage 1: Buenos Aires – Villa Carlos Paz


Road connection: 144 km – Selective Section: 170 km – Road connection: 519 km – Total: 833 km




The Dakar leaves Buenos Aires early on Sunday morning to arrive to Villa Carlos Paz, 800 km from the Capital. As everyone knows, you must leave the dry pampa area and the surrounds of the Argentinean Capital to find interesting tracks. It was no surprise for the competitors, the first selective section was short, 175 km, composed by straight lines and right angle turns in the middle of the fields. The high temperatures that were giving us a break have now returned.


For Willy Alcaraz, triple champion of the T3 class, this first stage was not quite interesting, but amusing. “I had fun with the Polaris 1000XT+30 in this flat tracks, quite fast for our top speed. There were lots of dust and some water and mud pools due to the rain of the past days. Unfortunately, I lost 10 minutes; I had to cover 50 kilometers at a speed of 90 km/h due to the speed variator.”


Tomorrow, things will be more serious, with the second stage of 500 kilometers that will take competitors to Chilecito.

Willy Alcaraz launches his pursuit for the fourth victory!

Dakar D -2

Friday 2nd January 2015

Technical and administrative checks at Tecnopolis Park in Buenos Aires

An air of spring with nice a light breeze can be felt at the Tecnopolis Park in Buenos Aires. All competitors know that they must enjoy these moments because Argentina is well known by its unbearable hot weather.


It is time for the technical and administrative checks for the Polaris Xtremeplus Factory Team. The most important part of the technical check has already been done in the port of Le Havre last November, before embarking to Buenos Aires, so the afternoon goes by without stress. The entire team is ready to face the pitfalls and traps that the Dakar 2015 has waiting for them.


For Willy Alcaraz, triple winner of the Dakar in T3 class, it is time to put his title in the game. “This is my 24th Dakar -tells the French that rides in a single seater. This is my forth time driving a Polaris RZR, but this time I take the race with the RZR 1000XT+30, and not the 900TX+40. The technical team has done an extraordinary work developing this machine and this RZR is truly piece of jewel. During the tests, I was astonished by its performance, its shock absorbers, chassis, breaks… The way the RZR works has been improved and now, it can reach 125 km/h.


I hope the tracks are hard because that is an advantage for our RZR, just like the sand, but unfortunately this year we will not have too much of that. My ambition is, of course, to win the T3 class and to improve the overall result. The challenge is that the car goes faster, so it is harder to take the dangers and navigation while being alone, but I have the advantage of the weight…

We also have new tires from Maxxis. This should prevent punctures and will allow me to go faster in rough tracks. If everything goes well, I should be able to climb up overall because the Polaris RZR 1000XT+30 is truly performant and our team has experience and it is effective!”


Tomorrow, Saturday January 3, it will be the starting podium. The real start of the race will be on Sunday January 4 with a special stage of 838 km between Buenos Aires and Villa Carlos Paz. 175 kilometers of this stage will be timed.

Marilyn Urtubia
Journalist & Translator 
+56 9 6686 9857 | Santiago, Chile