Three-time Le Mans winner, Romain Dumas, and his co-driver Alexandre Winocq have retired from the Dakar Rally following a large fire that occurred in the first stage of the rally.
Dumas was driving this year’s rally in a Rebellion DXX, backed by WEC LMP1 competitors, Rebellion Racing. Alexandre Pesci, the president, and owner of Rebellion Racing is also competing in this year’s rally in an identical car. The Rebellion DXX buggy was developed by Team RD Limited, a rallying manufacture led by Dumas.
The fire engulfed the entirety of the rear of the car and soon spread to the cabin. Dumas and Winocq were uninjured in the incident.
— DAKAR RALLY (@dakar) January 5, 2020
“We had to give up in the first stage of the Dakar following a fire in the car. My co-driver Alex Winocq and I are OK. We did not have time to intervene on the car.” Dumas said in a French-to-English translated Facebook post.
Footage uploaded to Youtube by longtime World Touring Car Championship driver and regular Dakar competitor, Tom Coronel showed that the bottom of Winocq’s backpack he was wearing when the fire occurred had been completely burned off.
This was Dumas’ third attempt at the Dakar Rally after attempts in 2017 and 2016. His best finish is eighth in 2017
The fire occurred roughly 65 kilometres into the first stage of the rally — which for the first time is being held in Saudi Arabia. The Dakar Rally is one of the hardest races in the world. For most entrants, just getting to the finish of the Dakar Rally could be considered a victory. In 2019 only 53% of the 334 entries at the start of the rally made it to the finish line.
Fernando Alonso is also partaking in this year’s rally with the Toyota Gazoo Racing effort. After a strong start in the first stage, a suspension failure cost Alonso and his co-driver Marc Como significant time in the second stage.
Alonso is ranked 47th and is two hours and thirty-eight minutes off of Orlando Terranova who leads the rally.
Image courtesy of Romain Dumas