Stage 13: La Serena  –  Valparaíso

Road connection: 122 km

Selective Section: 157 km

Road connection: 256 km

Total: 535 km

The last special stage of the Dakar 2014 was located in sinuous hilly roads of Canela, surrounded by cacti on slippery tracks due to the morning rain. All drivers were required to stay focused to avoid any mistakes before the checkered flag announced the race is over. Mission accomplished for Willy Alcaraz, Nicolas Duclos and Sebastian Delaunay that crossed the finish line, the three of them quite moved by taking the two first steps of the 2014 podium. This is the third outstanding victory for Willy Alcaraz driving the Polaris RZR Xtremeplus and for Nicolas Duclos and Sebastian Delaunay, an excellent second place.


Willy Alcaraz N°350: “It was the same special we had last year here, and also brittle, says Willy with tears in his eyes. There were dried rivers with big stones; I thought I could never get out of there. To be focused all the way was mandatory because it was very easy to slip away from the track, and I saw some traces of cars that went out. Today, it was required to show driving skills and not just to let go.”

Proudly, Willy wears the t-shirt of the winner. “This morning, I put on the t-shirt that says “Polaris Three Times Dakar Winner”. I am very moved because it was an extremely hard race. It is excellent for us to be two at the finish line, please understand it is a pity for the two RZR that had to abandon the race. I am so happy with this third victory because if the first Dakar on board of the RZR was a challenge, and that I targeted the finish line, this one was a continuous fight with Coronel as much as it was with Nicolas. This victory has a special taste for me!

The entire teams did a great job, and as I always do, I´m thankful for them. The environment within the Xtremeplus team is great among all members, which is fantastic, it´s like a big family!”

Nicolas Duclos/Sébastien Delaunay N°364: “These last kilometers were beautiful, tells Nicolas at the arrival to Illapel. In the middle of the cacti, the road was slippery at some points so you had to be very careful not to make a mistake. This morning, I had some pressure because we had to make it to the finish line without taking any risks, but at the same time, do our best. I can´t believe we are here. Compared to 2013, this was a lot harder at a physical level, but we did well and we took our place. Sebastien has done an excellent job, as usual… We didn’t make any mistake in almost 900 km of the race, and we kept our pace through all stages. This should keep on going, the Dakar is so great!”


Stage 12: El Salvador – La Serena

Special Stage: 350 km

Road connection: 349

Total: 699 km


The Dakar continues its way to Valparaiso, but a decisive stage was still to be played: El Salvador – La Serena, with the famous dunes of Copiapo. This morning, the Camanchaca was the first to come out, but the bikes were still able to take the start on time, and cars even a few minutes ahead of schedule.


In the Polaris Xtremeplus team, Nicolas Duclos and Sebastian Delaunay, in front of Willy Alcaraz in the overall classification, are still biting their nails. They are friends in the bivouac, but rivals on the roads, and none of them wants to give up a place. The lesson learned yesterday helped Willy, which is 37th in the special, while the French-Congo team Duclos/Delaunay completed the stage on the 43rd position. Overall, Alcaraz is 40, 5’01 ahead of Duclos, who takes the 41st spot. There is still one more stage to go before the checkered flag comes down.

Willy Alcaraz N°350: “I kicked out the fool guy that was in the car yesterday, tells Willy, who is smiling again and took control of his race. Yesterday I was so stressed by all the silly things that I did but today, I had a nice performance, without any problems, not even a puncture! There is just one drive shaft bellow that was damaged and the assistance changed it when I left  the selective section. We had sand today, but I was expecting something worse… There were some cars trapped in the sand, but it is so easy to get by with our RZR that we went through smoothly.”

Nicolas Duclos/Sébastien Delaunay N°364: “We had four punctures! Says Nicolas as he gets out of the selective section. And we were driving usual… At the beginning of the selective section, there were stony tracks, rivers of stones. There were stones, but less than yesterday. I do not understand why we had so many punctures. This morning, we took the start with three spare wheels, but the third one was flat after 10 meters… I think there was a problem… We repaired and crossed the dunes like that. I was expecting bigger dunes in Copiapo, but no, we crossed three sand stacks without any difficulties. I am still hungry for sand; we did not have that much sand on this Dakar.”

 “No Team instructions have been given!!” says Marco Piana.

Stage 11:  Antofagasta – El Salvador

Road connection: 144 km

Selective Section: 605 km

Total: 749 km


The eleventh stage of the Dakar was long, almost as yesterday, and joined Antofagasta with San Salvador, a small mining town located at 1612 m, where the Dakar could stay away from the Camanchaca (the heavy fog that comes up between the ocean and the mountains, next to the desert) which often doesn’t not allow helicopters to take off.

This special was another nightmare for the Polaris Xtremeplus that ate dust and stones once again. But both of them are at the bivouac now, Duclos/Delaunay in the 39th position and Willy Alcaraz as 41.

Nicolas Duclos/Sébastien Delaunay N°364: “It was another apocalyptic stage, screams Nicolas while leaving the car, all covered in dust. Besides 4 km of dunes, the rest was all fesh-fesh and stones! We went for about 500 km with Willy and then, at the exit of the dune, we lost him while we were inflating the tires. At the finish line, Sebastian admitted that he lied to me… When we inflated the tires, he said that we had damaged a tire, but in fact it was the shaft drive! What a lie! Just so that I would not worry about it!”

Willy Alcaraz N°350: “I had three punctures! The first one at km 90, then at 150km… Instead of taking off my feet from the accelerator after the first puncture, I kept attacking… I drove 350 km like if I was driving over eggs because the spare wheel was broken. The third puncture was on the fesh-fesh… I fixed it, but it didn’t last for long, so I finished on the rim for the last 5 km.”


Stage 10:  Iquique – Antofagasta

Road connection: 53 km

Selective Section: 231 km

Neutralized section:  185 km

Selective section: 215

Road connection: 5 km

Total: 688 km

The Dakar makes a U-turn and goes south next to the Pacific Ocean to the city of Antofagasta. There is no Dakar without fesh-fesh, says the brochure… but even if today´s stage was fairly long, it was not as hard as yesterday for the two Polaris RZR because it took place in opened spaces, the tracks, two selective sections separated by a neutralized section, was full of sand, dunes, mining roads and fesh-fesh. The bivoac in Antofagasta is located next to the natural monument of La Portada, which is close to the line of the Tropic of Capricorn, has brought luck to the two Polaris. Willy Alcaraz finished 34 and the crew Duclos/Delaunay closed the stage in the 38th position.

Willy Alcaraz N°350: “The stage started in the dunes, so I had to take out some pressure of the tires and I could not climb up in higher pressure. Then, I had fun crossing the dunes, without any troubles if it was not for two times that I was backing up because our small machines have limits sometimes. The second part was a lot faster on bigger roads, a bit too fast for us, but I had the wind on my back so I reached 124 km/h! That was the first time I saw the RZR going this fast. Unfortunately that made the tires to heat up and the one on the rear right exploded. I lost 7-8 minutes to change the wheel, but anyways, it was a beautiful day with zero troubles!”

 Nicolas Duclos/Sébastien Delaunay N°364: “We were on our own most of the time of the special today, besides in the dunes, where there were cars everywhere. We saw Willy climbing up while we were trying to do the same, but he disappeared. We lost 15 minutes trying to get out of a hole where we got stuck. There was less fesh-fesh today; it was faster and technical, a lot nicer. It was really a beautiful special stage, very nice with wonderful landscapes.”


Stage 9:  Calama – Iquique

Road connection: 37

Selective Section: 422 km

Total: 459 km

The Dakar continues its road to the North and the competitors had, once again, the opportunity to feel the chills of descending the dune slide before crossing the finish line at Los Verde, a 3 km downhill with a slope of 45%. The selective section took part in the Atacama Desert with sand, dunes and fesh-fesh in the menu.

The bivouac in Iquique is located next to the ocean and the breeze is blowing while the sun is in the sky. Willy Alcaraz, started in the 76th position, crossed the finish line in the 41 place while Nicolas Duclos and Sebastien Delaunay started 73rd and came in 49 after eating some fesh-fesh. Overall, Duclos/Delaunay is 48th and Alcaraz, 49th.

Willy Alcaraz N°350: “It was a beautiful special stage, but very brittle. There was so much dust and because I started far back, it was not an easy day. The wind was blowing against my face and we were going over bump after bump on a track destroyed by the trucks. The dunes were not so difficult, but there were many possibilities to get trapped in the sand. With the big uphill tracks, the small engine of the Polaris made it a bit limited, but once I took some pressure out of the tires, I went through it. Anyways, this special stage was better than the others and I am at my place in the stage ranking.

I only had one puncture and almost at the end, I was driving with the trucks and I lost 2 to 3 minutes to find a waypoint as they were gardening for it.

I am sorry for Coronel that I saw him being tolled, it´s my direct rival in the one seater class and T3… It´s a pity.”

Nicolas Duclos/Sébastien Delaunay N°364: “What a day! Says Nicolas as he lays down on the ground, exhausted. We drove over 200 km on fesh-fesh, we got stuck at km 50 and then at 180. Then, at km 200 the fesh-fesh arrived to our knees! We were able to get out thanks to the colors of the Congo flag, which sis similar to the Bolivian flag, and they came to help. They took out air pressure from the tires and helped us to get out. Unfortunately, they got trapped in the sand and we were not able to help them out. Incredible, they were smiling and we were waving good-bye, I hope they will get out. It was an extraordinary vibe, without them we would still be on it!”


Stage 7:  Salta – Salta

Road connection: 114 km

Selective Section: 533 km

Road connection: 116 km

Total: 763 km


Stage 8:  Salta –  Calama

Road connection: 510 km

Selective Section: 302 km

Total: 812 km

The rest day was beneficial for all competitors that survived the first week of the Dakar 2014, which has been particularly difficult due to the high temperatures. Unfortunately, it was not very festive as a storm hit Salta after lunch time and then, the rain was on and off over the bivouac until late at night. For this reason, the stage was delayed, but the selective section was not modified:  very fast, and unadequate for the Polaris RZR. The journey was difficult for Willy Alcaraz who faced the break of two joints. He was helped by Nicolas Duclos and Sebastian Delaunay, showing their sportsmanship. Both teams joined the bivouac on the 73 and 76 places respectively.

The following day, the first car took the start at 5h15 am to cross the Andes Mountain by the pass of Sico and get to Chile. This 8th special of the Dakar was even more sinuous, and the two Polaris Xtreme managed to complete it successfully taking the 64th (Nicolas Duclos/Sebastian Delaunay) and 68th place.

Nicolas Duclos/Sébastien Delaunay N°364: “Yesterday was a huge stage, tells Nicolas wearing bike googles and a scarf to protect his mouth from the dust, very fast and between altitudes of 3800 and 4300 meters. We then kept on going aroun 80 km/h while others were driving at 180 km/h. Willy broke a joint and we stopped to help him out. Anyways, it was not the right terrain for us.

Today, it was not too cold for us to cross the Andes, we were prepared for it. I had my feet in trash bags, technical underwear and a ski jacket and I was driving inside my sleeping bag. The selective section was in Chilean territory, it was more sinuous and fast. But as it took place at a lower altitude level, we were able to keep a nice pace. I had fun and I had only one puncture… Crossing the Andes Mountains was really something! Beautiful landscapes”.

Willy Alcaraz N°350: “Yesterday I broke a joint that I changed with the help of my team mates. But this new joint broke and I decided to keep on going like that to avoid the penalty. I still took 1h30 minutes of delay. I drove 150 km with the traction and about 200 with three wheel drive.

Today, I was scared because I heard a big noise and I thought the gear box was broken. It was a big stone that got stuck in the transmission. I was obligated to break the stone with a screwdriver. That made me lose some time, but I was rather happy that it wasn’t the gear box. Besides that, it was a nice stage with beautiful landscapes.”



Stage 6:  Tucumán – Salta

Road connection: 242 km

Selective Section: 156 km

Neutralized Section: 164 km

Selective Section: 104 km

Road connection: 28 km

Total: 694 km

The sixth stage was the stage before the rest day in Salta, where cars will stage one more day than the bikes that will start their way to Bolivia. The sky is covered and threatens of rains but everyone is appreciating the temperatures a bit lower than the days before. Under the Xtremeplus’ tent, mechanics prepare the pieces to fix the Polaris RZR as new. Willy Alcaraz finishes the stage 51 and is now 50 overall, while Nicolas Duclos, with his co-driver Sebastian Delaunay are 64 of the stage, and 56 in the overall ranking.

Willy Alcaraz N°350:  “It´s my first day without getting off of the car. The first road connection that was so beautiful it almost made me cry. During the special, even if it was a bit fast at the beginning, at the time I arrived to the sinuous part I started to have fun steering. We went on tracks and gravel, passed forests and then climbed on altitude. It was a great journey. The only thing is that when I reached 3000 meters, the engine lost about 30% of its power…

We are now in Salta, this is half of the Dakar and we really deserved the rest day because I was falling asleep during the road connection between the two selective sections. I had to put water on my face to avoid closing my eyes and when I got there, I had to start the second SS, I didn´t even had time to enjoy the landscape, it was beautiful. At those times, I would like to have a co-driver to share what I see and the emotions these amazing landscapes bring out of me.”


Nicolas Duclos/Sébastien Delaunay N°364: “The two selective sections were beautiful and much more interesting than the day before. It was nice steering and we kept a good pace, taking care of the RZR. We had one puncture, and the breaks temperature went up twice. Now we are in Salta, happy to have the rest day ahead because I was falling asleep in the road connection. It´s a hard Dakar, but we are not doing badly for the moment.”

Saturday is the rest day and Sunday, drivers get back on the roads for a loop around Salta. Monday, they will be in Chile!


Stage 5: Chilecito – San Juan de Tucumán

Road connection: 145 km

Selective section: 211 km

Neutralized section: 111km

Selective section: 205 km

Road connection: 231

Total: 912 km

The fifth stage, the longest of the race this year, was divided in two parts. For safety, the organizer cancelled the second part for the bikes as riders were falling like flies on the floor due to the heat, the second selective section for cars.

This Dakar race has been particularly difficult with hard terrains and unbearable heat. On the roads, temperatures reached 47°C, and only a bit lower at the bivouac in Tucuman, but humidity made it harder. These are the weather conditions in Northern Argentina. The two Polaris Xtremeplus that survived to the graveyard of the last stage are now in Tucuman.

Willy Alcaraz N°350: “It was another difficult day – says Willy as he arrives to the bivouac after 11:30 pm. I was not expecting those dunes of the first selective section and I arrived there with too much pressure in my tires. At km 30, I got trapped in the sand trying to go through other people stuck in the sand. It took me 30 minutes to get out. Then, further, I had another tire problem, again, trying to get through cars that would be completely stopped in the fesh-fesh. At km 162, I am sure I went through a waypoint, but the GPS did not register it. This special stage was really hard with soft sand and holes full of fesh-fesh, camel herb and so hot that it felt even hotter if I opened my googles and my helmet. David Castera gave us everything in this stage: fesh-fesh, camel herb and stones. The end of this was great, beautiful landscapes and nice people. They even brought me a meat sandwich, it was a great present!”

Nicolas Duclos/Sebastian Delaunay N°364: “What a day! The first selective section was like Vietnam War. It started in the dunes, but it turned to be “Apocalypse Now”. There was the helicopters flying everywhere, riders on the ground that could not breath, doctors running everywhere… I felt sorry for them. In the dunes, I got trapped by three times and one due to that same competitor that bother us every day, that one that has already bumped his car on us. He was playing with us and then, he got stuck in the sand right in front of us. When he got out, he didn’t even help us!

While Seb tried to put sand away, I watched at the thermometer and it marked 63°C under the sun. Seb had troubles walking, it was so extremely hot. Then we rolled in calm, we had a puncture caused by a thorn. We marked the waypoint that others missed only thanks to Seb´s skills. It was so extreme, so that we did our best to make it to the bivouac.”




Stage 4: San Juan – Chilecito

Road connection: 43 km

Selective Section: 217 km

Neutralization: 157 km

Selective Section: 248 km

Road connection: 167 km

Total: 868 km


The Dakar´s fourth stage, which joined San Juan and Chilecito, the small mining village (La Mexicana) locate at the skirts of La Famatina (6250m) became hell for a number of competitors and two of the Polaris Xtremeplus, Garry Connell/Annie Seel and Yasir Saedan/Laurent Lichtleuchter, were off of the race.

The stage was separated by a neutralization of 157 km, and the selective section was full of stones and rocks and the inevitable heat! Willy was the first to join the bivouac, at 10h30 pm. The other competitors were still driving at that time.

Willy Alcaraz n°350: “Zanirolli is back! Says Willy covered in fesh-fesh as he arrives to the bivouac. It was a hellish stage, 600 km of stones! I think that we did not have a stage as hard as this since 1995-96. About 20 years ago, none of the cars would have made it out of this; it was a huge wrecking yard. I started after Coronel on the first selective section, and after 10 km, there were competitors everywhere, all going around in circles, lost. Then, I made my trace and everyone started to follow me in a line, but when I got stuck on the sand, none of them helped me. A truck stopped and pulled me out, so I thank them. In the second special, we started in the same order we arrived so I was 2 minutes in front of Coronel´s quad when, three times, my rear tires were burst for no reason. I repaired them. Tomorrow it will be the same, fesh-fesh and a canyon. This is crazy!”

Nicolas Duclos/Sebastien Delaunay n°364: “So many things happened to us today that I can´t remember them all, tells Nicolas when he gets up at 6 am after only getting a few hours of sleep. We almost fell at a 60 mt cliff and the RZR had one tire on the air. Then, a truck almost passed over us. We had a break down and we didn´t know why, if it was fuel or anything else. It was already dark and an Astania truck was pulling us, he was going like crazy… We had to stop him because we were worried about rolling over if we kept on going with them. A buggy pulled us then, but I was not in the RZR, Seb was sitting in the passenger´s side with the driving wheel that I had not time to put back, and here we are, it was crazy!”

Garry Connell/Annie Seel n°366: “An oil hose broke during the stage and we lost oil. Marco Piana, in the T4 truck repaired it and the crew was able to keep going. Unfortunately, during the road connection, the oil pressure went down and the engine suffered consequences that made it impossible to fix. Garry Connell and Annie Seel withdraw from the race this morning.

Yasir Saedan/Laurent Lichtleuchter n°386: A stone broke the gear box of the RZR, which lost all oil pressure. Yasir and Laurent were on the neutralization at the moment it broke and it was impossible to pull them to the second selective section. They took the tarmac to the bivouac, which placed them off the race. “At least I will have no  more fesh-fesh!”.


Stage 3: San Rafael – San Juan

Road connection: 292 km

Special Stage: 301 km

Road connection: 3

Total: 595 km

The third stage of the Dakar brought competitors to the comfort of the Andes Mountains before their arrival to the bivouac located in the heat of San Juan. The rains erased part of the road in the mountains and the stones were the main dish of a very rough selective section.

Nicolas Duclos/Sébastien Delaunay N°364 – 76°: “It was a hard day.  It was so stony, beds of stones in the river, and also in the fesh-fesh. We stopped three times… The first time because I wedged in a canyon and I restarted it as we were moving. 10 meters from there, Seb made me stop because we had no oil pressure. So I mounted on a 20 meters slope to avoid narrow roads. In fact, there was nothing and we kept going. Then, we had a puncture in a left turn, on a hole full of stones that cut the tire… the third stop was because our Sentinel went on (the alert activated by the vehicle behind you when they want to pass you). I was going to go to the side of the road when the car honking bumped us. It was a Russian team, and Seb got down of the car and went to tell them his thoughts. Happily the RZR was not damaged and we are here. Another day!”

Willy Alcaraz N°350 – 78°: “For me, this was a beautiful stage and I had a nice day in spite of two punctures. You really had to pay attention all the time… it was a rough selective section with fesh-fesh and river beds. I had two punctures in the last 50 km due to the heat and the stones. I also lost my flag…. But besides that, there were amazing landscapes.”

Gary Connell/Annie Seel N°366 – 80°: “It was magnificent! And here we are at San Juan, our “turtle” has arrived to his destination at a cruiser speed aiming to avoid mistakes. We had no punctures and did not have any troubles! It was in the mountains, it was beautiful, and fresh. It was great, I enjoyed it!”


Yasir Saedan/Laurent Lichtleuchter n°386The electrical connection that brings Power for injection burnt. They finished the special on only one cylinder and with the help of Marco Piana’s trust in the critical parts.